Guide to motorhome and campervan security
Whether you’re a long-term owner or a recent convert, having invested in a motorhome or campervan, you’ll want to keep it safe and secure. While the total number of vehicles stolen in the UK fell significantly from 58,642 in 2019 to 46,876 in 2020 they started to climb again in 2021, reaching 48,493. Since 2018 we have seen a 126% increase in theft of motorhomes and campervans, with numbers continuing to increase.
So, whether you’re storing your vehicle on the road, in a garage, or on your driveway, it’s important to implement multiple security measures to help keep your motorhome safe and secure.
- Parking and storage of your vehicle
- Barriers and posts
- Campervan and motorhome safety
- Key finders
- Anti-theft devices
- Alarms and immobilisers
- Steering locks
- Clutch claws
- Gearbox locks
- Wheel clamping
- Catalytic converter theft prevention for motorhomes and campervans
- What to do if your vehicle is stolen
Theft prevention at home and when you’re traveling
There are a number of actions you can take to deter thieves and make life difficult for anyone who attempts to break into your campervan or motorhome. We would recommend doing as many of these security measures as you can to help keep your vehicle safe when on the road and at home.
Parking and storage of your vehicle
Everyone has to park their vehicle somewhere when they’re not using it and parking your campervan or motorhome on your own property is ideal if possible. As it’s likely to be used less than any other vehicles you own, it makes sense to park it behind them as this will make it much trickier for criminals to be able to steal your vehicle.
If you want your vehicle to be as secure as possible when you aren’t using it, you could consider storing it at an accredited storage facility. The Caravan Storage Site Owners’ Association has a database of over 450 independently assessed storage sites across the UK.
Barriers and posts
If you have off road parking, it’s worth considering installing gates at your property. If gates aren’t an option, a pull-up security post or triple leg parking barrier is another way to help prevent theft and will also act as a visual deterrent.
Campervan and motorhome safety
Preventing a theft is always preferable to dealing with the consequences, so here are our top 10 tips –
- Make sure you lock your vehicle every time you leave it, even if you’re only planning to be away for a short period.
- Check that all the locks work, including the windows, and replace them if you don’t feel they’re up to the job.
- Make sure you know where your keys are at all times and if you’re towing another vehicle keep those keys separate from your motorhome in a safe and secure space. A signal blocking pouch can be used to store keyless entry fobs. These pouches contain signal blocking materials to stop your fob transmitting its code.
- Ensure that any exterior access doors to storage compartments are locked when you’re out and about.
- Carefully consider whether you need to take valuables with you and if you do, don’t leave them or any cash on display. You could install a small safe if you have space. Make sure you have adequate insurance for any losses as typically most policies only offer limited cover for personal belongings, although these may be covered by your home insurance.
- Keep track of your vehicle’s contents including equipment serial numbers and mark anything of value with a UV pen as this will help prove it’s yours if it is stolen.
- Keep a record of any distinguishing features or adaptations that your campervan or motorhome has as this could help the police identify it if it’s stolen.
- Don’t store any documents that relate to your vehicle inside it (when it’s parked for extended periods) as this will make it easier for a criminal to sell on.
- Think carefully about where you park when not at home, a well-lit area with people around will be less attractive to a thief.
As well as good safety it’s always worth exploring how you can reduce the likelihood of a breakdown which could require you to leave your vehicle unattended, so why not check out our top tips on the subject.
If you lose track of your motorhome keys while you’re on holiday it could spoil the whole trip, so we always recommend adding a GPS tag to your keyring to easily locate it if the worst happens. They often come with an associated app that lets you pinpoint their location in an instant. For more expert tips on key safety head over to our blog.
There are a wide range of devices that you can use to make it as difficult as possible for thieves to steal your campervan or motorhome.
Of course, adequate insurance should be your last line of defence. Whether you have a policy for your own personal use, or a policy to protect your vehicle when it is out on hire, it’s important that you carefully consider the terms of your policy so that you don’t run into any problems if you need to make a claim.
It’s worth noting that in the event of a theft, the most insurers will pay out is the market value of your vehicle just before the loss, rather than the price you paid for it or the cost of a replacement. In the event of a vehicle being stolen by a hirer, a clause is often applied to the policy meaning a pay-out will only be 75% of the vehicle value.
Further, if your key was in the ignition at the time of the incident then your claim may be declined.
Likewise, you’re unlikely to be able to claim for damage to a vehicle, or any of its equipment, if someone tries to steal it while it was left unattended, as well as indirect losses such as compensation for not being able to use the vehicle.
Alarms and immobilisers
There’s a good chance that you own a car with an alarm and immobiliser and this option is also available for campervans and motorhomes.
A Thatcham accredited alarm is the industry gold standard so it’s advisable to look for their certification when shopping around. Most alarms also come with a sticker for the window which will help act as a deterrent to potential thieves as well.
Immobilisers have been a compulsory feature for new vehicles in the UK since 1998, but if you own an older model, it’s worth looking into whether you can have one fitted. An immobiliser will activate each time your vehicle is switched off and makes it difficult for anyone who does not have the key to start the engine.
If your motorhome is worth £50,000 or more, many insurance policies will require you to have a Thatcham Category 5S tracker fitted. Trackers should always be fitted by an expert and a copy of the installation certificate is also required.
Broadly speaking Thatcham approved devices are split into two categories with those rated in categories one to four designed for crime prevention and those in category five and above designed for vehicle recovery; so make sure you’re clear what your vehicle already has when you’re looking at the available options.
A good quality steering lock is another tried and tested method to avoid having your campervan or motorhome stolen and provides a useful visual deterrent. They also have the advantage of being quick and easy to use and come in a range of styles including:
- Bar locks with hooks that attach to the wheel and prevent it being used.
- Enclosed locks which fit over the entire steering wheel and are more effective but are bulkier to store.
- Steering wheel to pedal locks which stop thieves using the brake pedal and steering.
These work in a similar way to steering locks, acting as an effective physical and visual deterrent. They lock the clutch and brake pedal in place so that it’s impossible to drive the vehicle, making them a worthwhile investment.
These devices work by locking your gear stick and handbrake together rendering them both immobile.
While clamping one of your own wheels might seem like an extreme measure to take, it can be a very effective way to deter thieves.
Home CCTV systems are worth considering as if the worst happens, they can provide a valuable way of identifying the thief. In recent years, a reduction in the price and increased availability has made them a more viable option. Advanced systems will require some expert support to set up, but it is possible to set up simpler systems yourself.
Catalytic converter theft prevention for motorhomes and campervans
In recent years, a surge in the price of precious metals has caused incidents of theft of catalytic converters to increase. Thefts are not limited to cars, with motorhomes and campervans also being targeted. Therefore, marking your converter on the metal shell might make it more difficult for it to be sold on, and help authorities to identify it as yours. Kits such as these are available online.
There are protective devices available which utilise a steel shield that fits over the converter or a cage that uses high-strength steel that is difficult to cut. These can be fitted by a trusted mechanic. Some vehicle manufacturers are now offering to fit locks, so it may be worth contacting them first. The Metropolitan Police have produced a video showing how easy it is to steal an unprotected converter.
What to do if your vehicle is stolen
If you are unfortunate enough to have your campervan or motorhome stolen, the first thing you need to do is report it to the local police by calling 101 and tell them the circumstances of the theft as well as your registration number, vehicle make, model, and colour. They’ll then inform the DVLA and give you a crime reference number which you’ll need before you call your insurance company. At Alan Boswell Group we have a dedicated in-house claims team to help and support you through the claims process. We will liaise with the insurer to ensure you get personal service of the highest order.
The police will also normally ask if your vehicle has a tracker fitted so make sure you have the relevant information to hand as this will help them track your motorhome down and catch the culprits.
Read more: Guide to the different classes of motorhome and campervans