Homes can be broken into and cars can be stolen, so how about RVs? It's a devastating proposition: RV thefts can leave you stranded and broke, with not only your RV but all of your possessions inside it potentially gone forever. We've taken the time to research this topic in-depth to bring you a detailed guide on how to prevent your motorhome, travel trailer, or 5th wheel from being stolen.
Since RVs are essentially mobile homes - they can not only be broken into but also stolen altogether (even travel trailers and 5th wheels). Fortunately, there are things you can do to prevent thieves from taking away your RV. These measures include -
- Installing an electronic security system
- Placing and locking the X-chocks (X stabilizers on wheels)
- Locking your tire boots
- Using hitch locks (for travel trailers and 5th wheels)
- Placing steering Wheel Locks (for motorhomes)
- Avoiding leaving your RV unattended in high-crime areas
- Never leave valuables inside the RV
- Insisting on a secure storage facility
- When in a campground, getting to know the people around you
When it comes to RVs, there's actually quite a lot you can do to protect your property. In fact, with so many possible measures, this is going to be a fairly long post! Keep reading as we go through the ins and outs of how travel trailers, 5th wheels, and motorhomes get stolen - and what you can do to prevent that.
How RVs are Stolen
Just like any other kind of theft, thieves can be quite creative when it comes to stealing RVs. Of course, if the RV owner is careless and fails to take safety measures, it doesn't take much ingenuity to make off with one.
When Owners are Gone
As you would expect, most RV thefts occur when the owners have left their RV unattended. The challenge for these criminals varies with the type of RV they are dealing with, but without proper precautions, any type of RV can make for an easy getaway.
Hitching a Trailer/5th Wheel to the Thief's Truck and Driving Away
Imagine how easy it would be to hook up to an unattended, unprotected trailer and simply drive away. Anyone with the proper truck and hitch can back up to an unattended trailer and hook up if sufficient preventions are not put in place. In fact, an experienced team of thieves could take off with your trailer in as little as 60 seconds.
Breaking Into a Motorhome and Driving Away
Motorhomes are only slightly trickier. After breaking through the locked door, all it takes is a simple hotwire, just like in any other vehicle. Like most other thefts, these criminals tend to look for targets that make for the easiest and fastest getaways. This is why it is so important to take measures to make these thefts harder and more time-consuming for potential thieves.
Where RVs Can be Stolen From
Unfortunately, there is no place that's absolutely safe from theft. While there are things you can do to secure your travel trailer, 5th wheel or motorhome - you need to be on the alert for theft pretty much anywhere you park.
Here are a few tips based on the location where your RV is -
Thieves often study their targets before acting. RVs tend to be easy to spot when parked at home, so these criminals will wait and watch your patterns - when you leave, when you are at home, and how much security you have in place. It is impossible to never leave your home, so a well-protected RV is key to deterring theft.
Many RV owners rely on a storage facility to keep their RV parked and safe when not in use. This can be appealing, especially for those of us without an RV pad at our homes. And these well-lit, public spaces can even seem like a safe alternative to home storage.
Unfortunately, thieves target RVs in these facilities as well. This is why asking about security measures and the facility's theft insurance is crucial when choosing where to store your RV.
When Parked on the Street
An RV parked on the street is perhaps the most appealing target for criminals looking for easy money. Few bystanders would take notice of someone hooking up a travel trailer and pulling away, and these RVs tend to be harder to monitor than those kept closer to home or in a storage facility. That's why the proper safety precautions are especially important for street-parked RVs.
In a Campground
A busy campground can make for a good theft deterrent. After all, there are usually people outside that are in view of your RV any time you are not with it. And while this can serve as a measure of security, don't let your guard down because of it. Some thieves feel emboldened by high-traffic campsites. With so many people coming and going, it's entirely possible to make off with someone else's trailer, even in broad daylight.
Every campground is different, from jam-packed areas where trailers are practically touching, to quiet and desolate campgrounds where the next trailer over cannot be seen. The challenges presented by each campground will be unique, but the importance of properly securing your RV before leaving it remains the same.
How to Prevent RV Theft
The first steps you should take are to chock and lock your RV. A locked door and chocked wheels mean it will take that much more effort to break in and move off with the trailer or motorhome. These steps are not enough to truly deter crime, however. Even newbie thieves can likely break into a door and move unlocked chocks out of the way. Read on to discover all of your options when it comes to RV security.
Install an Electronic Security System
A good security system can provide you with great peace of mind whenever you leave your RV. Today's ever-advancing technologies offer many ways to monitor and secure your RV, from motion sensors to glass-break sensors to text alerts, these advanced systems will deter an opportunistic thief.
Some systems will simply sound an alarm should someone enter the RV when you are gone. Others offer video surveillance and cellular alerts any time activity is detected near your RV. Taking it a step further, other services, for a small monthly fee, will provide you will 24/7 professional monitoring. Make sure to advertise that a security system is in place, as this will likely turn away many would-be thieves before they even try to steal your RV.
Place and Lock the X-chocks (X stabilizers on Wheels)
RVs with multiple axles can use what is known as an x-chock to secure their possession. As the name implies, these are "X"-shaped mechanisms. By sliding it between your tires and ratcheting it securely in place, your wheels will be chocked and unable to move freely. Once you have locked the X-chock in place, locking it will prevent a thief from easily rolling your RV off into the sunset.
X-chocks can be a relatively easy and inexpensive means for securing your RV. And they serve a double purpose by chocking your wheels AND locking up for security. Make sure you check your X-chock after a couple of days of use to ensure it hasn't settled and fallen out of place. Unfortunately, single-axle RV owners will have to turn to another option.
Get And Use Tire Boot Locks
That brings us to tire boot locks. These devices, a favorite of city parking enforcers, wrap around your tire and through your wheel to prevent the vehicle from driving. Because they are more conspicuous than most other options, they can be a great advertisement to thieves that they should look elsewhere. And because these locks are made of thick steel, it will be very difficult for a thief to cut all the way through or break it off of your wheel.
Use Hitch Locks (For Travel Trailers and 5th Wheels)
Locking the hitch pin can be a simple and effective theft deterrent for trailers. There are many types of hitch pin locks, however, so let's discuss the options out there.
1. Coupler Locks - These types of locks prevent the use of the hitch pin. One advantage they offer over other types of locks is that they can be used when the trailer is hooked up to your tow vehicle.
2. Tongue Locks - Tongue locks incorporate the chains into the locking mechanism. Why is this important? Well, when the hitch is locked up, some thieves will resort to using the chains alone to pull a trailer away
3. Hitch Locks - These locks fit into your hitch and prevent a thief from using it. Because they lock with a key, it is extremely difficult for thieves to break them when properly installed.
4. King Pin Lock - These standard tongue-type locks will not work for most 5th wheels, of course. That's why there are dedicated king pin locks made specifically for 5th wheel trailers. While there are a few different designs, they all incorporate a locking mechanism that goes around the kingpin and locks in place.
The last two types of hitch locks are often used on trailers, but they are not in fact dedicated trailer locks. Because of that, they are easier for thieves to cut off of the trailer. While they are better than nothing, we recommend using a lock made specifically for trailers.
5. Cable Lock - A simple thin cable lock, like the kind you use for your bicycle, can be used to lock your hitch pin in place. This is an easy solution, although a prepared thief will likely be able to cut through such a lock with little problem.
6. Padlock - Most padlocks can be used to lock up your hitch pin as well. While these tend to be slightly stronger than a thin cable lock, again, a thief with bolt cutters will be able to snap it in little time.
Use Steering Wheel Locks (For Motorhomes)
Because motorhomes are basically just big cars you can live in, the safety devices used in them are usually the same as those used in other vehicles. A steering wheel lock is a quick and easy way to deter motorhome thieves. Consisting of a large metal bar that locks in place over your steering wheel, these locks make steering the vehicle virtually impossible. Because it would take a lot of effort to remove one, the sight of these on a steering wheel will turn most thieves away before they even try to break into your motorhome.
Avoid Leaving RV Unattended in High-Crime Areas
A great preventative safety measure is to pay attention to where you are leaving your RV. The sad truth is, some areas are much more prone to theft than others. Whether you are choosing a camp, storage, or short-term parking spot, try to find the safest area available to you. Not only will this give you more peace of mind when you are away from your RV, but it can greatly decrease the likelihood of someone trying to steal your possession.
Don't Leave Valuables Inside the RV
Not all thieves want to take your whole trailer; some are just after what's inside. Before leaving your RV unattended, take as many of your valuable possessions with you as possible. That includes electronics, jewelry, and even pets. Before setting out on your adventure, make sure you have a plan and a dedicated bag to store your most valuable possessions in. That way, when it's time to leave, you can just grab the bag and go.
When Storing, Find a Secure Storage Facility
Not all storage facilities are the same. That's why it is important to do your homework when choosing your facility. Make sure your storage company is using good methods, like video surveillance, guards on duty at all times, and proper screening before allowing people into the facility. If your facility is too lax in any of these areas, it's time to find a better option.
When in a Campground - Get to Know People Around You
The best thing you can do when camping is to be social. Get to know your neighbors so they can keep an eye on your RV when you are away. If your fellow campers know you and your trailer, they will be better equipped to spot thieves. After all, they will know that a thief attempting to steal your trailer is not the actual owner of the RV. By the same token, you can help keep an eye on the RVs of other campers. Plus, you just might make a few new friends!
Make Sure Your Insurance Covers Theft
Although your vehicle policy should cover your trailer as well, not all policies include theft. Call your insurance agent or go online to verify what your policy covers and adjust it as needed. Sometimes your homeowners or renters insurance will cover those items inside of your trailer as well. Either way, make sure you are covered in case of theft. This will give you peace of mind that, should a theft occur, you are at least covered by your insurance policy.