Are you worried your trailer might get stolen? Want to know how to lock a trailer so it can’t be stolen? High-quality and comfortably equipped campers are not only becoming increasingly popular with vacationers—but unfortunately, also with thieves. Time and again, reports of stolen trailers appear in police reports. Luckily for us, there are some very reliable anti-theft devices that can help.
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Please keep in mind that there is no one hundred percent protection against burglars and thieves. An anti-theft device for trailers and motor homes is nevertheless useful because it acts as a deterrent and makes unauthorized access to the camper more difficult. The rule here is that the more difficult it is to move the vehicle, the less likely it is that criminals will break-in. After all, thieves usually have very little time.
To prevent your trailer from being stolen, you can take various measures. Some of them are of a technical nature and concern security measures such as drawbar locks, wheel clamps, or alarm systems. The others are general precautions that you can implement without any tools. We present both types in this article. But first, a few facts and figures illustrate why an anti-theft device makes sense for owners of trailers and motorhomes.
More trailers registered equals more thefts
The number of new registrations of recreational vehicles has been rising steadily for years, the industry is booming.
For thieves that means there are plenty of chances for loot. Of course, there are many more passenger cars in absolute terms. Nevertheless, new (but also used) camping vehicles are a popular target for thieves. The value of a fully equipped camper trailer is often in the five-digit range. It is therefore not surprising that significantly more trailers were stolen in 2021 than in previous years. Unfortunately, experts expect this trend to continue in the coming years.
Trailers are most often stolen from their own property
Many camper owners probably think to themselves “It won’t happen to me” because they park their vehicle on their own property during the winter months. But that is where they make a mistake, it is precisely there that the trailer thieves strike most frequently. Approximately 60 percent of trailers are stolen from their own property, 20 percent from campsites. Rest areas are also popular spots for thieves. The thefts happen mostly at night. A large proportion of the cases are the work of professionally organized gangs equipped with the appropriate technology.
4 simple tips to protect against caravan theft
Before we turn to the technical protection measures to prevent thefts, first a few simple tips that you can implement without much effort.
1. Park your trailer in a safe place
The police recommend that campers and trailers should only be parked in secure, locked areas, even during the peak season. These include locked, camera-monitored parking lots, garages, and campgrounds. You should not leave your trailer unattended.
2. Regularly check up on things
Trust is good, control is better. If you have parked your camper in a secure area in the off-season, you should still check every few days to make sure everything is okay.
3. Do not leave valuables in the trailer
This should be self-evident, but we emphasize it here nevertheless once again. Do not leave valuables such as cameras, money, laptops, etc. in the camper. Otherwise, if the vehicle is actually broken into, the robbery will be even worse than it already is.
4. Take out camper insurance
The sad truth is that despite all precautions, your trailer can still be stolen. The police therefore strongly recommend that you take out suitable insurance, such as partial or full cover, which will pay for the loss in the event of theft.
Technical aids to protect against trailer thieves
What are the best technical measures you can take to protect your trailer from being stolen? Here we present the best options for theft protection for campers and trailers. These protection devices are not mutually exclusive and can be combined with each other.
The old-fashioned wheel clamp is still a popular protection against theft because it very effectively prevents removal. It blocks the wheel and also visually deters from afar.
Cracking a claw is not impossible, but requires time, tools, and experience. Before buying, consider whether you want a universal model that can also be used for your car, or whether it should be a claw specifically designed for the trailer.
The sturdy metal structures come in two designs: Either it goes around the wheel or through it. The latter is more secure. Also, the more massive the claw, the harder it is to break open. This means that handling and stowage become a bit more complicated, but the safety should be worth this extra effort. So go for the quality.
Some thieves simply replace the wheel if they can’t loosen the claw. Therefore, make their job more difficult by taking additional measures for theft protection and possibly a second wheel claw on a different tire. Alternatively, you can choose a wheel claw that makes it more difficult to remove the wheel by sturdily covering the wheel bolts.
To prevent thieves from stealing your trailer, you can use a so-called drawbar lock. They are probably the most common anti-theft device for caravans. This prevents unauthorized coupling of the trailer.
There are various designs to choose from. Common are for example:
- Box lock
- Pin lock
All of them are attached to the trailer hitch and mechanically prevent theft. Again, one hundred percent protection is not possible, so we always recommend combining them with another anti-theft device.
The box lock is a box made of heavy metal that encloses the trailer mouth at the drawbar and thus prevents coupling. The metal box is protected with a lock.
The U-lock is suitable for all common couplings with a diameter of up to 2 inches. In this case, a solid iron ball is secured and locked with a shackle, thus blocking the coupling jaw of the trailer.
Pin locks are particularly quick to install and are also easy to store because of their size. Here, however, it is important that you know the manufacturer of the coupling because the pin locks are often specific and not universally applicable.
Additional security measures
As we have already mentioned, you can never be 100% sure your trailer is safe. If you want to further secure your trailer, then here are some additional security measures to keep your trailer secured.
Trailer supports combined with lock
With the support legs extended, it is very difficult to unhitch or hitch a caravan. So that alone is an anti-theft device, because it makes stealing much more difficult. If you also install a lock, it makes it even more difficult to turn the trailer up quickly.
This is how it works: The lock is simply slipped over the nut and locked with a cylinder lock. This is done four times, i.e. for each support foot. Of course, with the right tools, the thief can still remove this anti-theft device to make the trailer transportable. But this takes time. And the longer it takes the thieves to steal the trailer, the greater the chance that they will be discovered beforehand.
Just as you can protect your house, along with all its furnishings, from burglars with an alarm system, the same works for a trailer. Considering that more and more is invested in inexpensive equipment, such as air conditioning, camping kitchens, furniture, etc., the installation of an electronic monitoring and alarm system is definitely worth it.
The alarm system has a deterring effect by the siren and light. For all available models, it is important to note that they must function without connection to the mains or the car battery. Simple variants have sensors on doors or windows, for example. The sensors react when someone tries to open them.
Motion detectors by infrared are also very effective. They strike out when there is movement around the trailer. However, you have to set them so that no cat scurrying can trigger the alarm, the motion detector should really only go off in the event of theft.
If the thief wants to take the trailer away unopened, then only sensors that are activated as soon as the trailer moves will help. High-quality alarm systems also have a GSM unit. The GSM alarm system for campers sends an emergency call to your cell phone if the vehicle is moved.
WLAN surveillance camera
Additional protection is provided by protection systems with a surveillance camera. So-called WLAN cameras or IP webcams are already available for less than $50 and send live images to your smartphone in real-time. The prerequisite is that the camera is connected to a Wi-Fi network at the respective location.
Should the thief still manage to steal your trailer despite all the protective devices, you can use GPS tracking. To track down the criminals, a built-in GPS tracker via SIM card helps. This device sends the current position of your trailer to your cell phone. GPS trackers are small, inconspicuous devices that are well hidden in campers. Make sure you have a good power supply with a battery, which you should, of course, check regularly.
Hi I’m Tom! I have been a camper enthusiast ever since I went camping with my family as a kid, love everything that brings me closer to nature. Photographer, RV owner, husband and father, trying to help others interested in camping on this blog.