All you wanted to do was to give your travel trailer a good spring cleaning, stock up, hook up and go. The problem is, it isn’t where you left it. You thought putting it in a secured storage facility with security cameras would be enough. It wasn’t. Someone has run off with your trailer. What else could you have possibly done to avoid this?
How to prevent travel trailer theft – here are 13 steps that work:
- Use a hitch lock
- Use x-chock locks
- Use a wheel lock
- Put your outside light(s) on a motion sensor
- When camping, pull into your site rather than backing in
- Leave your RV hooked to your rig
- Invest in a security system
- Paint your initials or a personal code on the top of your RV
- Befriend your neighboring campers
- Replace all external locks
- Use your deadbolt
- Keep the blinds closed
- Leave a light on when you are away from your RV
This article will dig into each of these solutions and will also provide some additional camping tips.
Protecting Your Home Away from Home
People have travel trailers for different reasons. Your travel trailer may be your way to have a blissful escape from the harried world. For some of you, though, it’s your full-time home and if you lost it, you’d lose nearly everything you own.
Here, you can find an article from our website about the topic: Renting an RV to Live In: Everything You Need to Know
Here are some practical tips for protecting your RV (recreational vehicle).
Use a Hitch Lock
The best way to keep your travel trailer from being stolen is to make it so thieves can’t attach to, or steal, the hitch. There are a couple different options you could consider, or you may want to use a combination of them:
- Trailer Tongue Locks
These locks fit over the trailer tongue’s coupler and incorporate locking up the chains so they can’t be used by thieves to tow your trailer away either. With 674 verified reviews and a 4.4 out of 5 star rating, the Trimax UMAX 100 Premium Universal “Solid Hardened Steel” Trailer Lock is an example of this type of lock.
- Coupler Locks, Hitch Locks, and Kingpin Locks
These types of locks all fit on the actual hitch to keep thieves from being able to use it. There are also Kingpin locks that are specifically designed for Fifth-wheel trailers. Tow Ready 63251 Fifth Wheel Kingpin Lock is an example of the specialized Fifth Wheel lock. This 4.4 rated lock has ratings from 66 reviewers.
- Cable Locks and Padlocks
These are things you’re accustomed to using if you have a bicycle. That said, make sure you get very strong locks that are not easy cut. The great thing about these locks is they’re pretty easy to find and you can make sure you make your tow chains inaccessible too.
X Up Your Tires
X Chock Locks are for travel trailers that have dual axel wheels. A secondary benefit of this option is they provide additional stabilization for your travel trailer.
The X Chock fits between the adjacent tires and keeps them from rolling. You also have the ability to lock the chock so it can’t easily be removed.
The BAL 28014 X-Chock Tire Locking Chock-Extended can spread to a 17-inch wide brace. These have an impressive 4.7 out of 5 possible stars from 298 raters. You would want to make sure that you have one for each side of your travel trailer.
Put Your Boot On
You’ve seen law enforcement use them on vehicles when the meter has run out, but have you ever considered that you could have your own wheel boot?
It’s a great theft deterrent.
If you were to use a wheel lock (boot) on your travel trailer, you would be able to rest assured it isn’t going anywhere until you remove it.
The 4.2 out of 5 possible stars-rated Hurbo Wheel Lock Clamp Adjustable Tire Boot Lock for… RV, Trailer, etc, comes with:
- Disc covers to prevent access to the wheel’s lug nuts
- Strong construction that is resistant to cutting and/or sawing
Light it Up!
Depending on your travel trailer, your exterior lights may have the option of adding:
- Motion sensor lighting
- Day/night sensors
If you’re concerned about the possibility of having to hire an electrician to update the wiring on your trailer, consider the option of solar-powered lights.
The Outdoor 118 LED Waterproof Solar Motion Sensor Lights can attach directly to the outside of your travel trailer. The key is that these lights need to have access to sunlight (direct or indirect) to work properly. These 4.4 out of 5 star-rated lights have a 180-degree sensor angle that is effective up-to 9-17 feet from their location.
Most times when parking a travel trailer the practice is to back into the space. In order to make it more difficult for thieves to access the hitch to your trailer, consider pulling into your camping or parking spot.
Clearly, if you’re using a “pull-through” spot, it’s a moot point.
If you don’t need to use your vehicle to go anywhere while you’re camping, consider leaving your travel trailer connected.
The key to this one, is that you want to make sure you aren’t putting undue pressure on the hitch on your rig. Even though you still have your trailer hooked up to your truck or SUV, you’ll want to make sure that you use your leveling jacks for better security and balance.
If the tongue of your trailer is sloping toward the ground, strongly consider putting a jack underneath it as well. This will:
- Take the extra load off your vehicle’s hitch and frame
- Prevent unintended damage
Keep it Secure
One thing you could consider, is to invest in a security system something like you may have at your house.
Some of these systems, such as a satellite-powered system, can be rather expensive and like traditional systems require monthly subscriptions.
More toward the moderate side of the spectrum is the solar powered Vosker V200 Outdoor Security Camera with Built-in Solar Panel. This system has a 4.1 rating out a possible 5 stars. The camera doesn’t require either wi-fi or a wired connection to be able to transmit the photos to your cell phone. This system has a solar charging station, but also requires 8 AA batteries as a back-up power source.
The 3G/4G LTE Outdoor Solar Powered Cellular Security Camera could be another choice to look at. This camera uses infrared LEDs to provide night vision up-to 33 feet even with poor light. This option works with limited or no WiFi access.
If the unthinkable happens and your RV gets stolen, police suggest making sure that you have placed an identifiable mark somewhere that isn’t very conspicuous.
You may be wondering why you would want it to be inconspicuous. Even though that doesn’t seem to make much sense on the surface, it does in the long run. By putting an identifiable mark somewhere that isn’t obvious, it’s less likely to be covered up by bandits.
With that in mind, consider painting your initials or a personal code on the roof or on the inside of one of your external storage doors.
Trailer Anti-Theft Tips: How to STOP a Thief in their Tracks! >> Check out the video below
Protecting the Contents of Your Home Away from Home
We’ve discussed several ways you can protect your travel trailer from being stolen. Now it’s time to go over some suggestions as to how you can keep the things around and inside your RV safe.
It Takes a Village
The community around the RV-lifestyle is wonderful. People who are camping are usually really friendly and protective of one another.
One way to make sure that your belongings are safe is to get to know the people around you. Sitting around the campfire or enjoying happy hour together is a wonderful way to break the ice.
You’ll look out for them, and they’ll usually look out for you too.
It isn’t uncommon for people to become friends with individuals they meet at a campground or RV resort and begin to schedule trips so they can vacation together.
Related reading: Do RV Parks Allow Travel Trailers? – Read This Before You Go
Back to those Extra-Strength Cable Locks
If you have items that you leave outside, it’s a good idea to secure them to your travel trailer while you’re away exploring or at night.
This is particularly true of your generator. Portable generators are becoming so lightweight, that they are the second most common item that is stolen from a campsite. The most common item that seems to grow legs is your lantern.
By taking the time to secure a cable lock to your
- Chairs, and
- Table, etcetera…
you’re more likely to make sure you still have it when you’re ready to pack up and go home.
Also… always, always, always secure your fishing gear inside your rig when you’re away and at night. You never know who the fish might bribe to keep you from catching them.
Invest in New Locks
Speaking of locking things up, RVs are like any other vehicle. There are only so many factory-released locks per manufacturer. Chances become pretty good that someone else who has, or has had in the past, a model by the same builder has the same locks as you.
Your travel trailer has locks not only on the entrance/exit door, or doors, but also on all of the outside storage bins. It’s in your best interest to get all of those locks changed.
Throw the Deadbolt
Now that you know you have a unique set of keys for your trailer, make good use of those locks – especially the deadbolt on your door. Deadbolts are much more secure than the regular lock on the door’s handle.
By making sure you use the deadbolt, you are providing yourself with an extra layer of security.
Keep Things Private
Sure, it’s nice to let the natural light and the breeze in, but if you’re worried about people seeing the toys you have inside your RV, you might want to consider keeping the shades pulled and the blinds closed. Especially when you’re away from your camp site.
People are naturally curious and when they’re passing by a window, the instinctive reaction is to look inside.
There’s a huge difference between a casual glance and nosiness. Most will only throw that casual, curious glance in the direction of a window. It’s those exceptions that you want to avoid.
Another option is to be strategic about which blinds you open. If the plasma television and WiFi router aren’t visible from certain windows, only open those to let the sunshine in.
Make it Look Like Someone’s There
If you’re going to be out and about until after dark, it’s a good idea to leave not only your outside light on, but also one inside.
Here’s the thing about that, though. Unless you are connected to some sort of electric service, you don’t want to drain your batteries or waste your generator gas.
If you’re dry camping, that simply isn’t always an option.
In those instances, you can plan ahead. Pack lots of extra batteries and leave a battery-operated lantern on your table or kitchen counter.
Granted, batteries can be expensive, but they’re much less expensive than coming back to your travel trailer and finding it ransacked and emptied of any valuables and precious memorabilia you had in there.
These thirteen steps may seem a bit overzealous but ask someone who has experienced the loss of their travel trailer whether or not they wish they had taken some of these precautions. They will tell you, “yes!”
Do Travel Trailers Really Get Stolen?
Unfortunately, they do. And they don’t just get stolen from winter storage. Some thieves actually have the nerve to hit campgrounds or popular dry-camping spots.
During a news report, one Oregon trailer retailer said he hears from people “about two or three times a week” because their trailer was stolen.
Granted, he sells utility trailers too, but the same principles apply.
Regardless, there are several sites online that have posts about stolen RVs.
It really happens. And when it does, it’s devastating.
Are Travel Trailers Easy to Steal?
If someone is going to heist a recreational vehicle, it is usually a planned event.
Driving past someone’s camp site and stealing everything that’s sitting around, well… that’s typically a crime of opportunity.
Taking off with someone’s travel trailer requires some advanced preparation and planning.
They have to have access to a vehicle that can pull a travel trailer.
- This not only means that they need to have a hitch receiver mounted, at a minimum, they really need to have the hitch too.
- Most campers are savvy enough to remove their hitch from the receiver and stow it away while they’re parked. Unless, of course, they’ve left their travel trailer attached to their vehicle.
- It also means they need to find a travel trailer that isn’t too heavy for their vehicle to pull.
- Travel trailer thieves would generally know that they’ll burn up their motor if they try to pull too much weight.
- Note: People who steal travel trailers don’t usually stick with stealing one. This is what they do for a “living.” They steal the RVs, sell them, and steal more.
Places Where Travel Trailers are Most Often Stolen
Because this is a crime of preparation, thieves seldom steal travel trailers from campgrounds. Make no mistake… it happens, just not as often as other locations. They really like it when they find travel trailers parked:
- In an unsecured storage lot. Maybe there’s a combination padlock on some gate, but… how many people have access to that combination? It’s probably many more than you would think.
- On a side street, in an alley, or in an empty lot/parking lot. Thieves love areas that don’t have a lot of traffic and aren’t well lit. If you’re parking your travel trailer in the back alley behind your house, or the quiet side street or lot around the corner, you’re going to want to keep the tongue and wheels locked.
- At your home in your driveway or on your RV pad. Whether we like to admit it or not, we are typically creatures of habit. We have established routines that often become somewhat like clockwork. It isn’t difficult for a professional thief to watch and learn when the windows of opportunity could exist.
- The RV storage lot. It may seem strange, but some thieves love to steal from RV sales lots. They’re under the impression that because there are so many travel trailers available that one won’t be missed.
Maybe You’re Wondering About Your Motorhome
Many of the newer motorhomes come with strong theft deterrents.
The classic RVs, though, aren’t as sophisticated. From a criminal’s perspective, what could be better than not having to worry about having to hitch up when you can just drive it away?
In addition to the steps discussed earlier, one thing you would want to consider is investing in a steering wheel lock.
The Tevlaphee Steering Wheel Lock for Cars has been given an average of 4.5 out of a possible 5 stars by 247 eligible raters. This particular extendable steering wheel lock will work for your vehicle as well as your motorhome. The manufacturer says it not only has a lifetime guarantee, it is also resistant to:
- Freon Attacks,
- Prying, and
Using something like this would make it nearly impossible for a thief to drive off with your motorhome. In fact, one reviewer said, “I have used this in a few places I have traveled and had to park while shopping or boondocking [dry camping] overnight… Makes me feel better…”
Keep Your Information in a File
Before you find yourself in the unenviable position of having to report your travel trailer as stolen, make sure you have created a file and have gathered the following information:
- The title to your travel trailer
- Your travel trailer’s VIN
- Your travel trailer’s license plate number
- The insurance policy for your travel trailer
- Service records
Speaking of Insurance…
Make sure you understand the details of the insurance policy you have on your travel trailer. Some policies do not cover theft while the RV is in storage.
It’s a good idea to have a specific conversation with your insurance agent about what is and what isn’t covered in your policy.
Replacing a Stolen Travel Trailer
If the unthinkable has happened and you find your self in need of replacing your stolen travel trailer, you can consider buying:
- A shiny brand-new current model
- A shiny brand-new previous year model
- A new-to-you (used) model
If new-to-you sounds like the direction you want to go, you can look just about anywhere and find used travel trailers for sale:
- RV dealerships
- Classified ads
- Local neighborhood message boards
- Restaurant bulletin boards…
And the list could go on.
The thing is, you will want to know whether you’re looking at a stolen RV or if it’s a legitimate sale. Here are some steps you can take to protect yourself:
- Do an internet search for “stolen travel trailers.” You will find several sites that have listings and photos of RVs that have been stolen from around the United States and Canada.
- Ask if the seller has the title. If you’re really interested in the travel trailer and the seller gives an excuse as to why they don’t have the title,
- Ask for the VIN so you can ask the DMV to do a title search. If the seller gladly gives you the information, it’s less likely that you’re looking at a stolen RV.
- Ask the seller if the title is in good standing. Sometimes a lien has been placed on the travel trailer. You don’t want to have to pay back taxes on an RV when you didn’t own it.
- Ask the seller if the travel trailer locks have ever been replaced.
- Ask the seller if anyone else has keys to the RV.
Taking Dogs Camping for Theft Prevention
There aren’t many things that make a dog happier than getting to go with you when you go on an adventure.
Another advantage is that dogs are wonderful alarms and protectors.
If you have small dogs, you should just know that thieves hate them because they’re noisy – some would even say yappy. So what? If someone’s there that doesn’t belong, the whole neighborhood will soon know.
If you have medium or large dogs, they’re an incredible visual deterrent. Who wants to face those teeth?
We wrote an article listing pet friendly rental companies you need to know. Find the article here.
Things to Keep in Mind When Taking Your Dog with You
Of course, you know your dog is the best thing that’s come into your life, but everyone may not feel that way.
Most campgrounds and RV resorts have pet policies that relate to:
- Number of pets allowed and, in some cases, an additional site fee for each one
- Maximum size of pets
- Potential breed restrictions
- Leash requirements
- Cleaning up after your pets
- Keeping your pet with you and not leaving them at the camp site
Something else you will want to keep in mind when it comes to camping with your pets is where you keep their food. You will not want to leave their food and water dishes outside while your camp site is unoccupied unless you’re interested in attracting additional visitors like:
- Field mice
Wildlife is great, but sometimes they’re better observed from a distance instead of up close and personal.
Related reading: Dogs in Travel Trailers: Here is What You Need to Know
Camping Safety Tips to Keep in Mind
You have a lot of information about how to keep your travel trailer safe while you’re out and adventuring.
But what about you?
Here are some basic things to keep in mind when you’re enjoying yourself out in the midst of some incredible nature:
- Always go hiking or exploring with a buddy. Solitude can be a wonderful thing, but not when you’re in the wild. Accidents and injuries can happen. Make sure you have someone with you to help.
- Always be prepared for the unexpected. Make sure your backpack has:
- Snack bars or trail mix,
- A flashlight, and
- A water repellent poncho or space blanket.
If a storm pops up and you need to take cover and wait it out, you’ll be glad you were prepared.
- Always stay on the marked trails. It can be tempting to go exploring, but keep in mind that even experienced adventurers can get turned around in new environments. Don’t be one of those stories on the news where a search party has been dispatched to find a missing hiker.
- Remember, your mobile phone may not work where you are. Always let someone know where you’re going and when you plan on returning. It’s just good safety practice.
At the end of a long day of fresh air and incredible scenery, you’ll be glad that you have your travel trailer to return to.
A little bit of comfort, a soft bed for the night, and freshly brewed coffee in the morning will get your ready for your next day’s adventure.
Staying Safe In Campgrounds and While Boondocking >> Check out the video below
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