Australia has one of the highest rates of vehicle theft in the western world with almost 100,000 vehicles stolen each year and an estimated 500 caravans stolen last year.
A report prepared for the West Australian Office of Crime Prevention a few years ago stated that “Motivated offenders had detailed knowledge of various makes of caravans, were aware that locks on vans and canvas annexes are easily accessible and knew how to enter a van where people are asleep without making the van rock,” it said.
While insurance will re-compensate some of the fiscal value, it`s best to altogether avoid the stress of dealing with the claims process and the loss of irreplaceable objects of emotional value.
The first steps to avoiding theft begins with common sense sense and awareness.
Avoiding theft of Goods - Out of Sight, Out of Temptation
Always lock you caravan even if it`s just a short trip to the shops and put all your valuables out of view and reach of the windows. Store any high-value items such as generators inside the van rather than in the annex and take laptops with you if possible.
Deter Opportunistic Grabs
It`s a great idea to have automatic lights or alarm that activate when someone enters. This alone might scare off thief who thinks he could be identified by neighbours.
Put identity marks on your generic but expensive camping gear such as generators, gas tanks and barbeques that someone could transfer into their own annex and claimed as their own. Mark or engrave your name on barbeques, gas tanks and generators with your name. Also have a more subtle mark in a hidden place in case your name tag is removed.
As part of the caravan community you probably do this anyway but always try to get to know your neighbours and exchange contact details.
Avoiding Caravan and Vehicle Theft
Stealing a whole caravan and contents is payday for a professional thief who can take things apart and resell them at various location and markets, as well as online. They will of course also resell the caravan.
Don`t rely on one way to secure your vehicle and combine old security technology with new security technology.
Couple Locks with Wheel Clamps
Wheel clamps immobilise the wheels of your RV and prevent it from being driven away. They are often made of steel and fit up to 290 mm size of tyres. Many come with a 25 year guarantee and are designed to fit any size so your initial investment may be used for vehicles too.
AHitchlock is designed to lock the caravan to the car as own unit. Choose a Hitchlock where the securing bolts are completely covered because if the Hitchlock bolts are exposed, it is easy for car thieves to unbolt the lock and fit their own in its place.
GPS Alarms, Immobilisers & Tracking
Modern security alarm systems can provide real time information about the location of a vehicle or caravan. They can also send notification when the vehicle moves out of the allotted area (geofence).
Of course, this isn`t option is very remote Australia where the Internet and 3G nets don`t reach or barely reach and you probably need to take even more care in these regions.
There are GPS alarms that utilize a wireless passive infrared sensor next to the smoke detector and other sensors. They operate on 12 volts and send alarm signals over radio frequency to the alarm unit. The system is also capable of attaching a GPS tracking unit to it.
VIN number protection
VIP numbers now use miniscule dots sprayed or brushed on your caravan that are invisible to the naked eye and can only be seen under UV light. However, thieves are becoming savvier at covering them to avoid detection.
You can rewrite or etch VIN numbers in various places in your van such as the underside of drawers, in cupboards or behind wood paneling (be creative and clever). The method of labeling should be permanent and not easy to remove or disguise.
There are websites to notify the public of stolen caravans so whether you van has been stolen or you are buying second hand, take a look at them. To register a stolen caravan, visit the Stolen Caravan Registry on Facebook while Goose Australia also runs a page on their site specifically for stolen caravans.