RVelectricity: Do Not shock thieves on purpose!

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By Mike Sokol

Dear Readers,
Yes, I know we all worry about a thief stealing stuff from our RVs, especially if we’re away from the campsite on a day trip. After all, it’s obvious to any would-be thief that an RV is likely a treasure trove of expensive items, many of which are highly portable and fence-able.

And I also know that some of you may have considered installing an active deterrent to anyone breaking into your RV, such as electrifying the door handle so that any would-be thief would be painfully shocked if they attempted to break into it. After all, isn’t this what we do for cattle with electric fences?

And I will admit that all sorts of movie and television comedies as well as pop stars have made the idea of “electrocution” on stage or in print “funny” for decades. Here’s one such example of Lady Gaga faking her own “electrocution” on stage. Didn’t happen, it was just a staged joke for a concert. NOT FUNNY, LADY G.

In fact, I’ve had a number of readers over the years seriously suggest that creating an RV hot-skin voltage and electrifying the RV ON PURPOSE would be a good deterrent to thieves. Sounds simple enough, right? However, to install something like that on your RV would leave you open to all sorts of liability issues if someone touching your RV was shocked or electrocuted (killed by electric shock). Doing so would be the equivalent of an old B-movie about gangsters setting trip wires that would pull the trigger on a shotgun if someone entered the front door of the house (another very bad idea).

So when RVtravel.com editor Chuck Woodbury sent me a link to the Shock Plate door lock cover last month I was a bit disturbed by the idea. Here was a new (2019) company advocating installing a gadget over the door handle of your RV that would produce a painful (but supposedly non-lethal) shock for any would-be thief who tried to open the door of your RV. Here’s what their website says about this device.

So let me make this perfectly clear. You should NEVER install any sort of theft deterrent device on your RV that could harm someone from electric shock, even if that person was attempting to break into your RV. Even if you only startle them enough to fall off the RV steps and hit the ground, it’s still an injury that you caused by installing such a device. Everything I read about this type of gadget says it’s illegal for you to do so, and the lawsuit potential is enormous.

Should you add better door and compartment locks, YES. Install a GPS tracker that will activate if someone steals your RV, YES. Put up cameras that will record and automatically upload pictures of any thieves to the authorities, YES. Get the best insurance you can find, YES. But creating a shock hazard, on purpose, for anyone touching the door handle of your RV, NO. It’s a terrible idea that could come around to bite you if someone gets hurt, even if that someone is a thief.

Also remember, if a thief really wanted to bypass this Shock Plate device, all they would have to do is wear gloves. So the only ones getting shocked (and potentially injured) will likely be non-thieves such as your campground neighbor (maybe with a heart condition?) who wants to visit, or a small child who can’t read the warning on the sign. DON’T DO IT!!!

Let’s play safe out there….

 

 

Mike Sokol is an electrical and professional sound expert with 50+ years in the industry. His excellent book RV Electrical Safety is available at Amazon.com. For more info on Mike’s qualifications as an electrical expert, click here.

For information on how to support RVelectricity and No~Shock~Zone articles, seminars and videos, please click the I Like Mike Campaign.

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14 Comments
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David D
6 months ago

Are we in the wrong country? criminals’ rights are now more important than victims’ rights.

John
7 months ago

The courts need to be straightened out and get back to what is right is right. Perp tries to break into your RV and gets a massive shock. Too bad, he shouldn’t have been trying to break into your RV. They need to look at things like this and stop protecting criminals.

jane shure
7 months ago

Personally I like the gun idea better. I have no use for thieves.

Robert LaKarrza
7 months ago

You might want to study up on your knowledge of Personal and Property Protection Laws.
Non-deadly force can be used to protect property that is in the defendant’s lawful possession if the force that the defendant uses reasonably appears to be necessary to prevent or terminate an unlawful intrusion onto, or interference with, that property. See People v. Payne, 8 Cal. 341 (1857).

ThreeQuarterTon
7 months ago

ANY kind of booby trap meant to injure or kill is A FEDERAL FELONY OFFENSE period!
DON’T DO IT!

Old Prospector
7 months ago

Nothing in the laws that says you can’t just post only the warning sticker itself upon the door (and not even install such an electrical shock system), just as a possible anti-thief deterrent warning. It might just possibly deter any would-be thieves, and wouldn’t create, or leave you wide open for any chance of lawsuits because of such a shock system. – Just saying.

TravelingMan
7 months ago

Smith & Wesson, Mossburg, Berreta, Glock, Browning, Remington, Colt and others provide plenty of deterrent INSIDE the RV while protecting your domain. A short barrel shotgun will be the most effective at short range or close quarters. And in most states, you don’t need a senseless/wasteful background check. Just stay within the legal barrel length limits. You’ll have to decide what to do if you are in a National and some State campgrounds. Many state that it’s illegal to carry there.

Mace, Bee and Wasp Spray are also effective deterrents.

Stun Guns are yet another option.

When a criminal breaks in with you present, you have no choice except to defend yourself and/or your family. One of the parties will suffer a more severe consequence than the other… You only have seconds to decide who that will be.

What happened to honesty and integrity? Most places you go will be safe. But all it takes is one incident.

Unfortunately, outside your domain brings a different set of rules…

Al B
7 months ago

Hey Mike, are you old enough to remember the early ’60s, when there were tube radios in cars, powered by a little device called a ‘vibrator’? I remember guys taking a stand-alone vibrator and hooking it to the car frame…. if someone came up and touched your car, they would get a pulsating DC shock because they completed the circuit.

Wolfe
7 months ago

I know I mentioned this before but I once saw a guy wrap his external Surgegard in tinfoil shunted to the hot lead. Because a giant silver blob was obvious enough to me to ask, I asked him how he removed it himself and he of course said with gloves. Apparently criminals don’t notice foil, and dont wear gloves…

220v@mA for this device? Done right would be 50KV@uA, but the liability is still stupid… a warning sticker actually *raises* that liability, especially as it shows forethought and malice.

TravelingMan
7 months ago
Reply to  Wolfe

I am beginning to think it would be better to just install signs that say “Welcome and take anything you want so I don’t get sued. BTW…Its OK to kill me in the process. That’s why we serve in the services so that we can protect your rights”.

I just wonder when we’ll have rights that protect us from lawyers”.

Cameras and better locks will seldom resolve the issue. If they want it or the opportunity is right, they are coming regardless what you do. Especially when they are hyped up on drugs (legal or otherwise).

May sound negative but my heads not in the sand and I don’t intend to cover reality.

John
7 months ago

Just for fun I did a Google Search on this and found the website that your images are from. Even though a price is mentioned, I did not see anywhere on there to order it. So I wonder if it is legit or just a web page posted as a gag.

Fox
7 months ago

I find it disturbing when the thieves have the right to come into your property and steal and you don’t have the right to protect it.

Jeff
7 months ago

The same thing applies to your “Sticks and Bricks” home! You cannot setup a Booby Trap to protect your property from Thieves! It is illegal in all 50 states. And if you decide to do such a thing, plan on spending some time in the “Grey Bar Motel”!

Security Systems and Cameras are your best bet!