Everything You Need to Know About Security for Your RV

Let’s face it, there are those in our society who choose to steal. Contrary to what you may think, there are already numerous reports of stealing on caravans, camper trailers and other RVs (or even stealing the whole RV itself). Usually, they are stolen from front yards and unsecured areas. 

There is a story of a couple who had their caravan advertised for sale. The caravan was in the front yard of their home and the husband came home from work and noticed the caravan was gone. Confused, he went inside to discuss the success of the sale with his wife only to find out that she did not know what he was talking about. Someone had pulled up at the front of their home, hitched up the caravan and left without anyone being aware.

So, the first thing that you should do is secure your belongings especially if you are in a public area. If your RV or things are located outside, it’s easy pickings for thieves. This is the first, and albeit, simplest step to prevent things from being stolen.

If you want to have more security when travelling, then we have listed all the things that you should know. Read more to find out!

How Do I Stop the Theft of My Caravan Or RV?

If you have experienced a theft with regards to your RV or Caravan, follow these simple steps the you can do:

  • Make sure you have adequate insurance to cover your caravan/RV. It is important that you know what is covered under the policy or if it is necessary to take out extra cover under your home contents policy. You should do so because it depends upon the policy if it covers items away from your residence. Usually, an extra premium is likely to be applied.
  • When storing your RV in your yard, you could cement an anchor point into the ground. You also need to attach a chain and padlock from the caravan or trailer drawbar to secure it.
  • Always close all points of entry including the sunroof, hatches, windows, and the door when you are leaving your RV (even for a short time).
  • Consider leaving the radio on and close the curtains. Doing so can fool thieves and lead them to think that someone is inside.
  • Put outside tables and chairs away or secure them with a stainless-steel cable threaded through the wheel of your RV and secure it with a padlock. Stainless steel cables can be tailor-made for your RV from any boat shop or chandlery
  • Fit an alarm or purchase a remote sensor alarm. You can purchase these from stores like Dick Smiths or DIY electrical stores
  • Use a timer switch. When you are out for the day and expecting to be back late these time switches can activate a light giving the impression someone is present
  • Don’t leave valuable items such as watches and other jewellery inside the RV. As mentioned earlier, don’t leave out in the open too. 
  • Secure your registration paper works. Don’t leave them inside because you’ll need it in case your RV gets stolen.
  • Mark small items – permanent marking engravers can be obtained from your local Neighborhood Watch. Invisible ultraviolet (UV) marking pens can be borrowed for the purpose of item identification
  • Install a small safe
  • Write the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number)/Chassis Number of your caravan/RV in less obvious places within the caravan/RV i.e.: cupboards, under fridge cavities, etc. This assists in identification when recovered if the official VIN has been removed.
  • Have a separate record of your RV registration number, VIN, make and model as well as serial numbers of items like TVs and microwaves. Even a photograph is handy to assist for identification purposes

There are some products you can buy to deter theft and there are other products that provide tracking or tracing of your RV.

What Are Travel Safes?

Travel safes are devices which can secure important things like money, documents, and jewellery. Their function is much like the safes that are found at home. The only difference is their weight. 

There are many brands that make travel safes in Australia. One such model from an Australian brand is the Lightweight Lexan Impact modified polycarbonate travel safes are available for motor vehicles, caravans, and motorhomes. Caravan Safe is another brand that we recommend. It weighs about 1.5 kg, comes in a variety of sizes, and is excellent for storing valuables, including confidential information, laptops, and hard drives.

Another model is called the “Hide-Away Safes” which is manufactured in Melbourne and endorsed by the Security Construction and Equipment Committee (SCEC). The Hide-Away has a ‘docking station’ which can be mounted anywhere. Once the safe box slides into the docking station, it is locked with a key which renders the mounting screws inaccessible. With the addition of another docking station, the safe could be easily moved from say your tow vehicle to the RV or even your residence.

These safes come with a choice of two Abloy Security Locks. The manufacturer claims the locks are drill resistant and virtually pick proof and come with a 15-year warranty. The locks can be keyed to differ or keyed alike.

Locks Galore have a Helix Car Safe which they state will house a laptop computer and power adaptor or conceal documents and valuables in the boot of your car. The Helix Car Safe includes two keys and a security anchor cable to secure it to the boot of your car or a fixed object. The dimensions are 457mm x 315mm x 124mm.

What Is Wheel Security?

To prevent your wheels or spare wheels being stolen there are wheel nut locks available. The locking wheel nuts may be operated by a key or it can be a specially shaped nut that requires a compatible socket for their removal.

How Can I Secure Gas Bottles/Cylinders?

For gas cylinders on the drawbar or ‘A’ Frame, padlock them onto the gas bottle fixing bracket. For gas cylinders kept in compartments (i.e. boot or a specially designed compartment), these areas need to be kept locked.

What Should I Do to Prevent Hitch Receivers/Couplings from Being Stolen?

Hitch receivers are removable from the tow bar and are quite expensive to replace. To prevent the hitch from being removed from your tow bar, it is recommended that you acquire a hitch pin. The hitch pin goes through the hole on the tow bar and a keyable lock fits on one end of the pin shaft. The key entry point usually comes with a plastic cover to keep out dust and moisture. Hitch pin locks are available from Hayman Reese, boating, automotive and caravan accessory stores.

What Are Tow Ball Locks/Hitch Locks?

These locks can be used to secure your RV by clamping onto the ball coupling which prevents the coupling from being transferred to another vehicle. The angled guiding plate on the tow ball lock pivots and the other side slots into the rear enabling the other side to shield the tow ball. 

It is recommended that the trailer or caravan chains attached on the drawbar or ‘A’ frame be looped through the clamp on the “Lock Mate Coupling Lock”. This will prevent the RV being towed away by the chains.

There are several devices available to secure the coupling

  • Couplemate Dual Trailer Safety Lock
  • 2” Dual Safety Lock / Lock Mate Coupling Lock

The trailer guide makes hitching up your RV a breeze as it guides the ball coupling into place directly over the tow ball. This accuracy of lining up the RV coupling to the ball prevents damage to the back of your tow vehicle and the need to try to drag the RV into place. These locks, however, are unsuitable for ORCA, Tregg or load leveling coupling devices. 

Couplemate also supplies a Tregg lock. This lock replaces the ‘R’ clip and it can be used when your trailer is connected to the vehicle. It can also be used when the trailer is stored at home by inserting the pin and lock into the poly block. There is also another lock with a Spring/Pin/Lock with a ‘T’ bar handle.

Another available brand is Talon. The Talon Locking Pin suits the Tregg Poly Block ¾ inch off-road coupling.

What Is A Hitch Helmet?

This is a solid device that can lock the RV alone or when connected to the tow vehicle. It clamps over the coupling and under the tow ball.

Should I Use Wheel Clamps?

Heavy-duty wheel clamps are highly visible devices that protect your RV from theft by clamping onto the wheels thereby preventing the RV from being driven away. However, tyre size may reduce its effectiveness, so you need to ensure that you buy one that’s compatible with your wheels.

Two brand names that we recommend are ‘Keep It Klamp-It’ and ‘Stretchmaster Wheel Lock’. Klamp-It claims that its product is Australian designed and manufactured while also being preferred by the insurance industry. The clamp is powder-coated and highly visible and it also has a steel plate that prevents the wheel nuts from being removed. In addition, they are lightweight and fold up for easy storage.

Another manufacturer, Stretchmaster, makes wheel clamps that are made of hardened steel that weighs under 3 kg and fits up to 290mm tyres. Then there is the ‘Protector’, ‘Enforcer’ and ‘Supreme’ One Size Fits All Wheel Clamp. The products are Australian made and come with a 25-year guarantee. All of these are manufactured from solid steel and is secured to the wheel with a high tensile chain and an Abus 83/45 padlock.

How Does Tracking Devices Work?

Monitoring and GPS tracking systems or devices offer a variety of features and can also provide personal duress notification. These GPS tracking systems are ideal for caravans, trailers, 5th wheelers, and motorhomes. Sadly, an engine immobiliser won’t stop your motorhome or campervan from being towed away, so these GPS tracking systems can be used to recover vehicles after it was stolen. As well as track the location of cars, boats and RV’s in “real-time” or 24 hours a day. If someone opens the door and tries to steal your vehicle, the automatic vehicle location and tracking system are activated. These devices normally require some type of constant battery power supply.

Which Tracking Device Should I Get?

We recommend the following brands and devices for you:

  • Polaris You-Trac System enables the vehicle owner to track the vehicle’s location via the internet on any computer. Other features include a power supply which ranges from 6-37V DC, password-protected log-in, real-time monitoring, remote engine immobiliser, and panic button for emergencies. If the motion sensor is triggered, it can send an SMS to your mobile phone to warn you that someone is trying to break into your RV.
  • SmartTrack: a brand that offers internet-based tracking solutions. This makes it very accessible because it can be accessed from any internet-connected PC.
  • IntelliTrac Advanced GPS Tracking Systems have four systems available which include features like an SOS button. Additional monitoring is also available if you opt to pay the monthly fee.
  • QuikTrak CarWatch: a device that is designed for passenger and light commercial vehicles. The system features remote engine shut down, tilt/towing alert, vehicle tracking, and 24/7 response. Like the IntelliTrac, the brand also offers a monitoring period of up to 12 months when you pay for the service.
  • Cobra Car Alarms Sales & Service Pty Ltd: this brand makes alarm systems for caravans and motorhomes. This system incorporates a wireless Passive Infrared (P.I.R) sensor, wireless smoke detector, and a two-stage shock or impact sensor. In addition, the alarm requires constant 12V as the sensors are battery-operated. It also transmits a radio frequency to the alarm unit when triggered. DIY kits are available and other features like GPS self-tracking and monitoring (sent via SMS on your mobile phone) is an optional add-on.

How Does DataDot Technology Work?

The Motor Vehicle DataDot System has the vehicle VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) written on each DataDot. This technology consists of tiny discs, about the size of a grain of sand, etched with multiple lines of code. It can be brushed or sprayed onto your RV, tow vehicle, and other assets. In addition, the dots are invisible to the naked eye but are visible under UV light.

You can order through DataDot Technology (Australia) Pty Ltd. Smaller DataDot Kits for household items are sometimes available through your local Neighborhood Watch. Mongoose Australia Pty Ltd also has a product called ‘idMicroDot Australia’. Each kit has a unique PIN code which is recorded on their database along with your details so any stolen items can be traced back to you.

Which Caravan/RV Door Anti-Theft Device Should I Buy?

Fiamma makes the ‘Helping Hand Door Handle’ (46 cm, 03513A01 – Part No. 50145305). This handle attaches to the exterior of the caravan and serves to make entering and exiting the RV easier. When the RV door is closed, the handle then folds back onto the door and works as an anti-theft device. The Helping Hand Door Handle is available from Caravans Plus, 22 Endurance Avenue, Queanbeyan NSW 2620. They mainly conduct an internet-based business for RV parts and accessories.

What Are Brake and Clutch Pedal Locks?

Brake and clutch pedal locks are another alternative to secure your RV. One device that we recommend is the ‘Clutch Claw’. This anti-theft device clamps over the clutch and brake pedals, locking them into position and that ensures neither pedal can be depressed. The updated version of the Clutch Claw features a flashing LED light to draw attention that the device is fitted. Any would-be thief would see this light and would hopefully be deterred from forcing entry into your RV. The Clutch Claw is available from European Motorhomes and Caravans on (08) 9581 5995, 296 Pinjarra Rd, Mandurah WA.

What Are The Various Alarm Systems for RVs?

Car Alarm

An Australian Standard car alarm will complete protection must have the following:

  • sensors that provide perimeter and internal protection;
  • anti-movement, anti-jacking, and glass breakage detection;
  • a siren linked separately to all doors, the boot, and the bonnet;
  • comply with noise regulations – no louder than 115 decibels;
  • passive arming immobilizer; and
  • suppliers and installers must be licensed under the Security Industry Act 1997.

Some car alarms brand names that meet Australian Standards are – Autowatch, Antitheft Autopage, Cobra, Mongoose, Piranha, and Night Vision.

Caravan & Motorhome Alarm System

These are the best brands for us:

  • Cobra Car Alarms Sales & Service Pty Ltd (refer to Which Tracking Device Should I Get?)
  • Cobra CarMinder GPS Tracking System: it does not require a subscription to a base monitoring service. Instead, you contact your vehicle or it contacts you. As soon as the alarms sounds, the system sends you a text message informing you of your vehicle’s position, the direction of travel, UBD page, and grid reference. You can also view the coordinates of your vehicle’s location. By using your mobile phone, you can close doors, shut off the fuel supply and apply hazard lights. 
  • Kratzmann’s Caravan Security System: designed for travel in the outback and is powered by the main control unit with 12V backup. The system also includes passive infrared movement sensors, two security coded long-range remote controls, and a high-powered internal siren. The Kratzmann’s security systems can be added to an existing RV or incorporated into a newly built caravan.

Security Lighting and Security Alarm for RV’s

If you are looking to deter unauthorized entry to your RV or annex why not try a security light and alarm device. You should seriously consider these devices:

  • Mobi Secure: provide a portable security light and alarm. It has two models where one is just a sensor light while the other also includes an alarm. The device is powered either by 240V mains power or by 12V through an inverter. There are three settings – distance (up to 12m at 110 degrees), lux (day, dusk or night), and time (10sec to about 12 min).
  • Narva Automotive Lighting & Electrical has three types of awning lamps where one has a large white base that incorporates a Passive Infrared Sensor (PIR). The PIR sensor is activated by movement within a 3-metre radius. It can also be adjusted to remain illuminated for as little as one second or one minute. A three-way switch can also be used to leave the lamp turned on or off permanently as well as turning the sensor on separately only when the sensor is activated.

Engine Immobilizer

Insurers assess security using 6 categories – ease of entry, ignition lock/switch construction, engine immobiliser, original equipment (OE) car alarm, stereo security and other devices (such as locking wheel nuts and VIN (vehicle identification number)).

Since July 2001, all new passenger cars must be sold with an engine immobiliser that complies with Australian Design Rules.

For motorhome and campervan owners, consideration should be given to installing an engine immobiliser or upgrading your alarm system to incorporate an engine immobiliser if one is not already in the vehicle.

What Is an Engine Immobilizer?

It is an electronic device that interrupts the power supply required to start a vehicle’s engine. A good immobiliser should isolate at least two electrical circuits (starter, ignition, and/or fuel system) to prevent the engine from starting. The device should be hidden away in the control box so that it is harder for a thief to locate it.

Immobilisers that comply with Australian/New Zealand Standards (AS/NZS 4601) ensure that the immobiliser will not affect the safe operation of your vehicle or be easily overcome by thieves. In addition, the engine immobiliser should be automatically activated (passive arming) when you turn off the engine.

Motor vehicle insurers recommend the use of black wires when installing, instead of coloured wires, as this would make it more difficult for thieves to identify the wires should be cut to bypass the immobiliser. Some engine immobiliser brand names that meet AS/NZ 4601 are – Cobra, Mongoose, Piranha, and Flashpoint.

Related Questions

Will Homeowner’s Insurance Cover A Stolen Trailer?

If your car is stolen, your homeowner’s policy will not cover that cost either. You need comprehensive insurance through an auto policy to be covered for car theft.

Can A Keyless Car Be Stolen?

This device only works on cars that have a keyless remote and push-button start. It talks electronically to the vehicle. And still, unlocked cars or cars with keys in them are the most likely to be stolen. As for the relay attack device, it’s more challenging for thieves to use because of the sophistication.

Are Steering Locks Worth It?

That means the wheel can’t be cut to remove the lock. It’s a little bulky and more expensive than most, but the Disklok is worth it in our view. And because it is approved by Thatcham, the organisation that tests vehicle security for the insurance industry, it’s recognised by insurers and may help keep premiums low.

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