There are a number of security devices on the market which can help deter a thief and protect your caravan or motorhome.
- Look for the Sold Secure badge when purchasing a security device – this is the industry standard which tests and approvessecurity products. The Sold Secure logo provides gold, silver and bronze ratings. Wheel locks can obtain a diamond rating.
- Products can also be approved by Thatcham, or by European bodies such as TUV and SCM.
- There are hundreds of caravan security devices on the market, with some being better than others. As with most things you generally get what you pay for so do some research before buying to check if a product has been independently tested or reviewed.
Caravan Security Products
- As well as being a visual deterrent to thieves, hitch locks fit over the towing hitch and assembly fixing bolts to prevent your caravan being towed away by a thief’s vehicle.
- You should look for a hitch lock that is made from heavy steel and make sure that it covers the hitch fixing bolts. It should also be noted that whilst a hitch lock does give a reasonable level of protection, it is wise to use one in conjunction with other security devices.
- Hitch locks should not be fitted during transit as it may cause problems for the Emergency Services.
- Some insurance companies will require that a hitch lock and wheel clamp to be fitted to a caravan as a condition of your policy.
- Wheel clamps work in a similar way to hitch locks and are quite often required as the minimum form of security by caravan insurers. These fit over the wheels to prevent them from rotating and will prevent the caravan from being towed away.
- Some clamps leave the unit’s wheel nuts exposed meaning the clamp can be removed by removing the wheel, so it might be worth using locking wheel nuts alongside the clamp.
- Wheel clamps come in various sizes and not all are suitable for alloy wheels so make sure you get the right type and size for your caravan.
- Remember to consider the strength of the material the device is made of and the lock. A wheel clamp made of thick high-grade steel is worthless if secured by a cheap lock that can be defeated in a minute.
Wheel stands/winter wheels
- Wheels can be taken off your caravan whilst in storage and replaced with wheel stands.
This should make it more difficult for a thief to drive off with your unit. However, make sure you check your insurance policy – if it stipulates the use of a wheel clamp of wheel lock, using wheel stands would invalidate your insurance.
- Security posts are concreted into the ground and used to anchor the caravan to the spot with a heavy duty chain and padlock.
- For maximum protection the posts need to be set in concrete and have an internal locking mechanism, as padlocks can be vulnerable. Some posts have towballs on top so the caravan hitch can be locked on top, but in general most posts will just physically stop the removal of the caravan.
- Corner steady locks allow the corner steady legs to be locked in the down position. They are easy to fit, relatively cheap, and are a good addition to an existing basic security system.
- For motorhomes, steering wheel locks are a good visual deterrent.
- Caravan and motorhome door locks are not generally very robust security and can be supplemented with additional locks or fitted with a more secure locking mechanism. There are also devices that bolt onto the body of the caravan and swing across the door to protect the door lock.
- Remember to make sure that you are still able to easily exit the vehicle in an emergency.
- From small alarms which can be fitted to doors and windows, to devices which have sensors to detect corner steady vibration or internal movement, there are a range of caravan alarms available to provide you with warning should someone attempt to steal or gain access to your caravan.
- Do your research to make sure the alarm is reliable – false alarms are a nuisance and risk being ignored if there is a genuine incident.
- Some caravan alarms can be connected to home alarm systems, and similarly, some can be linked up to a tracker device if you have one fitted.
- Caravan immobilisers bolt the wheels to the axle preventing the caravan from being towed away without first being unlocked.
- The Caravan Registration and Identification Scheme (CRiS) is a national register for caravans in the UK and provides registration documents similar to the DVLA for motor vehicles as well as information relating to the history of the caravan.
- All UK caravans manufactured since 1992 are automatically given a CRiS number which is etched onto the body of the van. It is also possible to register pre-2002 caravans and imported caravans.
- In the event that a stolen caravan is recovered or sold on, a CRiS number will allow the owners to be contacted. When purchasing a used caravan, buyers are advised to contract CRiS to confirm that the unit has not been registered as stolen.
- Remember not to keep your registration documents in the caravan – store them in a safe place at home.
- The roof of your caravan can be marked with the last 6 digits of its CRiS number.
- It is also recommended that fixtures and fittings are marked with an ultra-violet pen. Microdot security systems are also available.
- GPS Tracking devices are installed inside the caravan and linked to a central database. Should your caravan be stolen, your vehicle can then be tracked by the control centre, located and recovered.
- Some tracking systems will automatically send out an alert whilst a theft is in progress, and those with VHF signal technology work even if your vehicle has been moved into a container or stored underground.
- Having a tracking system installed can reduce your caravan insurance premium, but it is important to find out whether you are required to get it professionally installed. Most require a Thatcham or Sold Secure approved tracking system.
- Whilst these systems can be pricey they seem to provide good results. Leading manufacturers include Phantom and Tracker.
Whilst no product can guarantee that your caravan won’t be stolen, security devices will help to deter or at least slow down a thief. Fitting more than one security measure is worth considering.
When your caravan is in storage it is worth removing personal items and leaving the cupboards open so the thief can see there’s nothing of value inside. You might also want to remove the unit cushions, which will not only keep them dry but dramatically reduce the saleability of the caravan in the event of theft.
If the worst happens and your unit is stolen notify the police, your insurance company and CRiS. The police will need as full a description, your CRiS or chassis number, any other serial numbers and identifying marks or features. Make sure you have recorded these and stored them in a safe place. It’s also worth taking some photos that can be used in the event of theft.