Motorhome Security – the comprehensive rundown
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When it comes to motorhome security there are hundreds of companies offering a vast array of gadgets, all promising to ensure the safety of your motorhome and it very quickly becomes pretty overwhelming try to figure out how best to secure your motorhome.
Well, we’re going to try and lend a helping hand by breaking down the different categories of security and the methods that fit into each category to give you the very best motorhome security tips that we can.
If you’re brand new to vanlife then check out our introduction to motorhoming here.
Motorhome Security Methods
Generally speaking, there are three methods of motorhome security: Deterrent, Prevention and Tracking.
The thought process that a potential thief will go though mirrors the above flow chart. So, you essentially have one chance to make a thief pass by your van, once chance to stop a potential theft in progress, and one chance to recover from a theft.
It’s important to note that a break-in is likely to occur for two reasons:
- To steal an item inside the vehicle.
- To steal the vehicle itself.
Breaking in and quickly grabbing a desirable item is far easier to do, and requires a far less sophisticated perpetrator and thus is the far more likely event to happen.
This emphasizes the importance of a good deterrent – not only for vehicle theft but also just for breaking and entering.
Deterring a potential motorhome break-in or theft
The idea behind a deterrent is pretty simple, you have to make a would-be thief decide that your van is simply not worth breaking into.
This is achieved with obvious physical security, simple procedures to hide any valuables as well as acting cautiously around your motorhome.
For example, if you have an expensive drone or camera, don’t walk around outside your van with it on display before walking off and leaving the van unattended. Put the camera in your rucksack until you’ve left the van well behind.
Preventing a motorhome break-in or theft
Prevention comes into play when Deterrent has failed.
A would-be thief has decided that your van is worth breaking into and/or stealing – what an arsehole!
Prevention simply aims to stop that from being successful. Items like steering wheel locks and clutch claws are good for this as they increase the time and noise required to make off with the vehicle, and reduce the inconspicuousness of the activity, increasing the chance of a passer-by noticing something is amiss and raising the alarm.
Another good item for prevention is something like the simplisafe system (more on that later). Once a door has been opened when the alarm is set, a loud, audible alarm is triggered – hopefully spooking a thief into leaving. Additionally, the system can notify you in real time via your smart phone so that you can return to the van ASAP.
Tracking an in-progress motorhome theft
Tracking is what you need if, unfortunately, the unthinkable happens and someone actually makes off with your van. Tracking will help with finding out where the van has been taken and aid the police in recovering the vehicle. Do not take the law into your own hands and attempt to trace the van yourself as this is a very dangerous thing to do – as difficult as it is, leave it to the professionals.
By no means are GPS trackers fool-proof, but given the low cost of implementation we fully recommend getting one installed.
Motorhome Security Systems
Varying from expensive, state of the art smart security systems, to the best physical security, to simple and free procedures you can do yourself, there are a number of ways to increase your security in each of the security methods.
Security Cameras, WiFi and an inverter
Most security cameras also require WiFi and 240v to work, so you will need to sort that out to go along with your security cameras.
Smart security cameras are a great way to keep an eye on your van when you’ve left it somewhere, or to make sure your dog is OK if you’ve left her behind.
Most smart security cameras can also send a notification to your phone to alert you if there is movement so that you can check out what’s going on.
Finally if you let would be thieves know that your van is monitored by security cameras this will also act as a good deterrent.
As we’ve already mentioned – always park somewhere where you feel comfortable leaving the van. By no means is this an exact science but trust your instincts. Better safe and late to the party than on time and sorry!
Close the blinds
Closing the blinds is an odd one – it has its benefits and, ahem, drawbacks.
It means that no one will be able to peer in and see what valuables you have, or see if you have a valuable dog on board. It also means no-one will be able to know for sure if there is anyone home. All good stuff.
But it also makes a potential thief curious as to what you may have to hide as well as hiding any internal physical security that you have.
Our personal preference is closing the blinds but leaving the drivers blind just open enough to see that we have a disklok steering lock secured in place.
As already mentioned be discreet with your valuables until you are well away from the motorhome or campervan.
Deterrent - Prevention
This vehicle is alarmed
A simple sticker letting everyone know that your camper is alarmed is enough to put off most casual thieves and opportunists – as we said – make sure your vehicle isn’t the easiest target around.
It also lets everyone know that you have thought about security and that there may well be more security systems in place.
This covers a wide array of solutions, each with their own merits and drawbacks.
Our personal favourite as it is small enough to keep in the van and not take up any space when its not is use. We use the Disklock branded large size in our Fiat Ducato.
These are popular and for good reason. Once in place and locked on they take up no room inside the van and provide good, solid protection. The downside in our minds is that they are the least visible of the physical security options, not offering up much in the deterrent scope.
Probably offers the maximum protection from any of the physical security options listed, but by far and away the largest and heaviest to carry with you. We used to use the linked bulldog system but now just pop it on when we’re parked up at home – it’s just too big and heavy for out and about.
A great option for securing the van at home but we’d always recommend either a disklok or clutch claw for use whilst away.
These alarms are great and will almost certainly spook most thieves. Usually triggered by two sensors becoming separated (i.e. when a door is opened) and can be placed on all windows and doors on your van for full coverage.
A well respected budget option is the Milenco Sleep Safe Alarm. Six simple, battery operated motion detectors that will create one hell of a fuss if they detect a window or door opening when they’re armed. Buy enough for each window/door and you’ll be well covered.
For those of you wanting something a little smarter check out the Simplisafe smart home security system.
With this system you will require WiFi to be setup in your campervan, as well as 240v or an inverter setup to power the systems main hub.
But for those with larger, more sophisticated battery systems this is well worth the price for protection (note that the system can be used standalone but to get the smart features you will need to pay the simplisafe subscription cost – but worth it to protect your campervan right?!).
Immobolisers come fitted as standard on a lot of vehicles so check with your manufacturer before rushing out and buying an aftermarket immobiliser.
Immobilisers essentially cut out the engine if it’s started without the key being present – useful!
Deterrent – Tracking
This vehicle is tracked
A simple sticker can often be enough to make your van not worth breaking into. As we already mentioned, this plays a two part role in letting someone know that the van will be tracked wherever its taken to, it also lets them know that the owners (i.e. you) are security minded and may well have other security systems in place.
GPS Trackers are by no means foolproof but they are a great low cost and potentially massively beneficial item to install.
Plus, installation is a breeze for the most part it simply consists of buying a pay as you go sim, and registering the device (don’t forget to put it into your van!)
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Alternative/DIY Motorhome Security Methods
Locking the internal doors together using a gold rated bicycle chain.
While potentially a good deterrent and prevention method it does have its drawbacks – namely being a fire and rescue hazard!
Also, it sounds like a pain to set up every night and most campervans have a habitation door which could be used for entry anyway.
Turning and padlocking the driver’s captain’s chair. A good extra bit of security that we see as doing no harm and it sounds like a good idea to us.
Motorhome security and insurance companies
In order to declare your motorhome security gadgets on your insurance policy (typically with the aim of reducing the premium and increasing the likelihood of a pay out if the worst should happen) they usually need to be either Thatcham or Sold Secure approved.
Check with your provider before parting with any cash on motorhome security systems.
You may be wondering why we’re discussing home security in an article to do with motorhome security. But it actually makes perfect sense.
If you keep your motorhome or campervan on your driveway – then as soon as it’s not there it sends a beacon to any potential thieves that you’re not at home.
We also have a traditional home security system in place to set off an audible alarm if entry is gained whilst we’re away and it will also alert us via our smart phones that something untoward is happening at home.
These two systems combined give us great peace of mind that when we get home everything will be just as we left it.
The purpose of this article is not to worry or cause unnecessary stress.
The chances of your motorhome being broken into and/or stolen are extremely slim!
However, it just makes good sense to know the facts, know the solutions available and take some precautionary actions by thinking across the spectrum of deterrent, prevention and tracking.
So that’s it – you’re all clued up on our very best motorhome security tips and you can now get at it and Go Explore! confident in the knowledge that you have done everything in your power to look after your motorhome or campervan.