Using RV locks safely — and wisely


    By Greg Illes

    My RV has a LOT of locks. Cargo bay locks, water filler lock, two door locks, ignition lock. And then there’s the toad. At first blush, the way to be safe is to just lock everything up — right? Maybe, maybe not. It depends on where I am and what I am doing.

    Personal safety is a delicate and contentious matter. That’s fine — everybody needs to manage their own safety. So I’ll state very clearly that these thoughts are MY considerations, and yours may vary. I’m not going to suggest that you do what I do, I’ll just describe my reasoning.

    First, the door locks. There’s a handle lock and a deadbolt. I used to lock them both, while parked or traveling, but I’ve changed that plan.

    I don’t lock the deadbolt when I’m parked and inside. Reason: If I have to get out in a hurry (sleepy emergency), I’ll forget about that extra lock for too long a delay. Parked and outside? I always lock ONLY the deadbolt. Reason: It requires a key to lock the deadbolt from the outside, so I’ll be very unlikely to lock myself out.

    I don’t lock the door when I’m traveling. Reasons: I might have to get out in a hurry. Also, an accident or impact might jam the lock. Yes, there’s a risk that some evildoer might run alongside my RV and jump inside. I have decided to take that chance.

    Cargo Bays
    I lock all the cargo bays except the ones (one on each side) with my “outdoor” fire extinguishers in them. No explanation needed. I do try to keep less-valuable items in those bays.

    Ignition Lock
    I never leave the key in the ignition, even when I’m staying in the coach. Not for theft reasons (valid), but because it’s too easy to accidentally leave my ignition switch in the “accessory” position and drain the battery.

    The Toad
    Four-down toads need to have the ignition key in and turned, to unlock the steering. I keep the toad alarm keyfob separate so that I can lock the toad with its ignition key in it. I lock the towbar to the hitch, because those things cost $1,000 and they’re way too easy to sell.

    Spare Keys
    I have a full set of spare keys on the outside of the RV, in a really secret place. I’ve used them twice in three years, very gratefully.

    I hope these ideas give you some valuable food for thought. Be safe!

    Greg Illes is a retired systems engineer who loves thinking up RV upgrades and modifications. When he’s not working on his motorhome, he’s traveling in it. You can follow his blog at