I'm sure everyone will agree that their camper is among one of their most prized possessions. Not only do they represent a wealth of sentimental value, some campers will be one of the biggest financial purchases that a person can make in their life. So it is in your best interest to make sure that you protect it against would-be thieves.
Camper theft is a much bigger problem than many people realize. Though many have no experience of even attempted theft, your camper only has to be stolen once for you to potentially lose it forever. A typical thief will assess if they can steal your camper within a certain time limit, say 10 minutes or so. Therefore, the harder that you make it for them to steal it; the less likely they are to try stealing it in the first place. Here are some top tips for protecting your camper from being stolen in the first place:
How you park your camper can help reduce the risk of it being stolen. Just about everyone will reverse their camper into its parking spot and then drive off. However, turning the camper around and pushing it into place so that the hitch is facing the wall is a good way to prevent theft. You'll of course need a jockey wheel/tongue wheel to do this, but many campers will already have one of these. Putting it in this way will mean that the thief will be deterred from attempting to steal it, as they'll have to physically turn it around to get it out, this will take time, hence put them off trying.
A really effective anti-theft initiative is to remove the wheels. Jack up your camper and support the chassis around the axle with wood and/or axle stands. Then you can remove the wheels and store them either inside your camper or elsewhere. This may sound like hard work, but it should take no more than 20 minutes to complete and will certainly deter would be thieves.
Remove items that aid hitching up/towing. This could be a jockey wheel/tongue wheel if you have one (make sure the camper is supported underneath) and any lighting attachments.
Park your camper nose down and jack up the rear. This option is especially helpful if point 1.1 is not possible. Parking your camper with the hitch as low to the ground as possible and the rear jacked up will stop a thief from hitching it up, as the camper has to be at least level for it to be hitched. If the thief tried to do this, the jacks at the rear would prevent this.
It’s very likely that your unique vintage camper will be easily identifiable - but should it be stolen, you can guarantee that it can be traced by police by creating a unique marking. The best way is to paint a unique number on the roof of the camper in huge letters so that police helicopters can trace the camper from above. This number is usually related to the chassis number (first/last four digits etc…). The letters should be big enough so that they can be easily read from a distance and you could even have the letters made from vinyl or create large stickers to apply to the roof. This code will be invisible from ground level so you’ll never notice it, but it could be vital in the recovery of your camper.
Remove any important documents (such as title documents, insurance documents, servicing documents) from the camper when not in use so that a would-be-thief would have trouble trying to sell your camper. As they tried to re-register it, this would alert the registry office that your stolen camper was being re-registered and appropriate action to recover it could be made.
One of the most effective, yet cheapest ways to secure your camper is to buy a strong metal chain and run it through the chassis and the wheel and then padlock it. This will prevent the wheels of the trailer from turning should someone try to move it. Make sure it’s a strong chain and a good quality padlock to stop the lock from being picked. These should be cheaply available from your local DIY store. Also, if you keep your camper at home, consider installing a steel loop into your driveway to anchor the chain to.
Invest in a hitch lock. These can be found for way less than $100 and will prevent a thief from hitching your camper. They also act as a visual deterrent. If a thief sees a hitch lock, they’ll most likely pass on your camper, as it will take them longer to break the hitch lock. Always look for the very best quality one you can find, as this will be the strongest. Cheap price = poor protection. It’s just one of those things that you need to spend money on.
Invest in a wheel lock. This also includes the chain and padlock method. But a “proper” wheel lock will be just as, if not more effective. These can be found for less than $100, but as above, you need to spend the cash to get the best protection! Make sure that it will fit over your tire before buying.
If your camper has fixed/permanent corner steadies/legs/jacks, you can buy corner steady locks (may have to import from Europe) that will stop these from being lifted. Wind them down when storing your camper, fit the lock, and this will stop a thief from being able to raise them should they make an attempt to steal it. These are the cheapest type of lock at less than $50.
Have you camper tagged by the police. This can be done in many ways: they could insert a coded chip into the bodywork somewhere, making your camper identifiable should it be stolen, but this could also be done using “hidden” ink or a secret code imprint somewhere in your camper. This is a cheap method of security, but it is not an anti-theft deterrent as a thief would not be able to see it.
Fit a more secure door lock. The chances are that the door lock on your camper will be decades old, and modern replacements will withstand an attempted break in much better. Remember – theft doesn’t always mean stealing your camper physically; it could get broken into too.
Insure your camper. I’d say this is an absolute must. It not only covers you in the event of theft, but also covers you in an accident on the road. Specialist camper insurance is available (also, do NOT expect your camper to be included on your car’s policy – many policies don’t cover cars and trailers together!). Camper insurance is usually much cheaper than car insurance and also reduces in price when you build up a no-claims bonus.
Fit your cover/tarp for your camper if you have one. This would have to be removed before the camper could be towed. This will deter would-be-thieves.
Invest in an alarm. These can be found on the Internet and fit somewhere inconspicuous in your camper. Unlike house alarms, they’re activated with a key fob and not only detect movement inside the camper, but also have a built in tilt sensor to detect movement of the camper. Some run off the campers' 12v system (so you have to keep an eye on the battery level during storage) but the best ones have an independent supply so they cannot be tampered with. These are excellent and are 100% effective in preventing the theft of a camper.
If you keep your camper at home, consider investing in a removable security bollard/post. These are usually solid steel or cast iron and lock in place to block your camper into its storage space. This will physically stop the theft of the camper unless the bollard is removed (which is impossible without the key) and will also act as a visual deterrent.
Consider a tracker. This will track your camper should it get stolen. It’s an expensive way to prevent theft, but 99% of the time it means the full recovery of a camper in the event of it being stolen. Be prepared to pay subscription fees though which can be expensive.
Make sure that all anti-theft initiatives are conspicuous (where possible). For example: If you park your camper against a wall, it’s no use putting a wheel lock on the wall side. Put it on the visible side so passers by would see someone trying to break the lock and could alert the police.
Make security markings obvious. Some locks come with window stickers stating, “this trailer is alarmed” or “this trailer is security protected”. Use these and place them somewhere easily visible.
Remove what you can from the camper. If you used the wheel method as described in section 1, point 1.2, place the wheels elsewhere so that a thief would have to supply their own – something they’d never bother with. Also, make sure that all keys and spare keys are removed from the camper when in storage.
Invest in conspicuous locks. Yellow/orange/red locks are best. These instantly attract the eye and will warn off potential thieves.
It needn't cost a lot to protect your camper. Any prevention method is better than none. Just be vigilant with security and a protected camper will mean that it will be around forever for you to enjoy!