So you want to secure your caravan
Lets talk caravan security
Most new caravans come with a Thatcham approved security system, which is great. Thatcham is a name you can rely on and insurance companies give significant discounts for this, in the region of 20%. Unfortunately many of these just sound an audible alarm and as we all know, these are generally ignored.
If you want to enhance the efficacy of your caravan security system or you have an older van that didn’t come with a factory fitted security system, the following will explain all the alternatives and options.
There are two types of caravan security - Physical and electronic.
To provide a significant deterrent to professional and opportunistic thieves, both types of security must be employed. Using the right security products will not only make your van more resistant to theft, but will also save you significant amounts on your insurance premiums.
Physical security options
There are many brands of Hitch-lock on the market and an equally large array of prices but there are essentially only two types of Hitch-lock – Those that obscure the handle leaving aperture open and those that obscure the aperture and leave the handle open. The latter are the most secure.
As with all security equipment, buy the best you can afford. Some insurers specify the hitch-lock they require you to use, so always check with them before purchasing one.
Ideally you should aim to obtain a hitch-lock that will also lock the car and van together. This will offer higher security when stopping at service stations etc. Service stations are one of the main hunting grounds for caravan thieves.
Check out the Sold Secure website for a list of hitch-locks that meet international standards.
Registration etched windows
As you are likely to change your car before you change you caravan, you could instead etch your house number and postcode on to the windows. Thieves will not want to go to the hassle and expense of changing out all your windows and will likely move on to a less well protected target. Another alternative is to etch the last four digits of the CRiS or VIN number on them. This option provides thieves with no personal information.
DIY etching kits are available from many suppliers. The following link will give you an idea of what is available, but we do not recommend any supplier specifically.
High security door locks
Milenco & Fiamma are about the only companies selling these devices. That said, Milenco is far more popular than the Fiamma by a significant margin. Milenco offer 3 versions – Standard version, side doorframe mounting version and a version that can also be locked / unlocked from the inside as well, offering increased security when you are in.
There is no Sold Secure standard for door over-locks, so your insurer is unlikely to specify one, however, KEEP IN MIND that if your caravan is burgled, your insurers will want to see that force was used to gain entry or they may not pay out. These locks with 4 fixing points will require obvious damage to the van in order to break them. Definitely worth the expense, starting at around £33.00
High visibility sturdy wheel clamps
There are many types of wheel-clamp on the market and an equally large array of prices. As with all security equipment, buy the best you can afford. Some insurers specify the wheel-clamp they require you to use, so always check with them before purchasing one.
Again, a search of the Sold Secure website will yield a range of models that meet international standards, but check with your insurer first to see if they specify a particular model or give discounts on annual premiums if models meeting certain standards are used.
If your insurer provides no specific guidance, ensure that any wheel-lock you purchase covers all of the wheel nuts and that the arms that circle the wheel are not thin and spindly, as these can be cut with relative ease. The most highly recommend wheel-clamp by insurers and caravanning organisations is the AL-KO (Diamond Sold Secure rating) or the Winterhoff / SAS unit (Both Diamond rated Sold Secure)
Arm-locks – bolt to wheel nuts – often unsuitable for alloy wheels. Can be accelerated off. Will damage wheel arches but thieves can repair.
Disc-locks - clamps around tyre with disc covering nuts. Deflating tyre allows complete removal
Three point clamps – cover whole hub and clamp around tyre. Deflating tyre allows removal
Lock down corner steadies
Milenco and AL-CO are the two main options here. Neither will resist the prepared thief with the right tools and time to work for very long, however, they will definitely dissuade the less prepared and opportunistic criminal. Of the two, the Milenco appears more robust than the AL-KO and is available with different barrel lengths.
Ensuring your corner steady can’t be raised will make towing much harder. Definitely worth a look.
Although it is commonly recommended to mark your postcode on the roof of your van, your postcode may not be a great idea. If the thieves see it, then they know where you live. Car registration is also not a great idea. Instead, use the last four digits of the Caravan VIN number, CRiS number. This can be painted on, or you can buy large sticky vinyl numbers from B&Q
Items inside marked and recorded
Invisible UV marking. UV pens write with ink that is invisible to the naked eye, so won’t look terrible or alter the appearance of items. Marking items with your name, initials, postcode and house number will assist police in returning stolen items to you in the event they are recovered. These pens are very cheap and easy to use. Consider this a LOW security option worth doing just because it is very cheap, whether you implement other security or not.
The link below will take you to one of several companies providing these UV pens. We do not in any way recommend this provider over any other and the link is provided to allow you to get a better idea of the product only. http://www.uvgear.co.uk/product/product104.htm
DNA marking. This is another invisible caravan security solution that can be applied to items and contains unique DNA markers that the police can trace. It is also worth applying to internal door-handles etc. This is a much higher level of security marking than UV pens and is worthwhile, however, it will not prevent items being stolen in the first place. This should be considered an additional security measure. The link below will take you to one of several companies providing this DNA paint. We do not in any way recommend this provider over any other and the link is provided to allow you to get a better idea of the product only
Electronic caravan security options
Wireless caravan security systems
There are literally dozens of ‘wireless’ security systems on the market today from as little as £47.00. The question you have to ask is “is it really going to protect my caravan that I paid many thousands of pounds for?” And the answer is NO, not with any reliability. Frankly, you wouldn’t want to use one on a garden shed.
If you have mains power conveniently located to your caravan when you are not using it, and reliable power when you are using it, you could consider a standard ‘wireless’ alarm system. For DIY, the Yale range is very good, and is obviously a name you can trust. These are available for around £150 +. You must keep in mind though that if you are somewhere without mains, your security will not function.
For those looking for a completely 24/7 365 days a year caravan security no matter where you are, then you will require a ‘battery powered’ wireless alarm system. These are few and far between, however, the Mobeye i110 GSM PIR is a very good choice. Made in the EU and very reliable.
Both of these alarms are very user-friendly, easy to install, have an audible alert upon activation and will send text message alerts on activation. The Mobeye will also make a voice call to you in case you miss the text.
For information on Standards relating to electronic security systems, please see our guide ‘minimum insurance requirements, standards & tips’.
There are literally hundreds of tracking units on the market now, but they are not all suitable for caravans. The biggest problem with most trackers is the amount of power they use. Caravans are often left for extended periods and you down want to drain your battery.
Many insurers will give substantial discounts (around 20%) if a tracker is installed, however, the tracker may be specified by them. If a tracker is not specified by the insurers, there are two sources of information to help you decide which tracker is best for you. The caravan club Technical Information report pages 11 – 12 provides a list of Sold Secure accredited trackers that also meet the Thatcham standards. You can also find a list on the sold secure website itself, but these may or may not be Thatcham approved.
Page 3 – 4 of the same report explains very simply and effectively additional aspects that you must consider when choosing a tracker such as ‘monitoring’ and ‘responding’. We strongly suggest you read this before making a purchase.
Of course trackers are OK once you know that the caravan has been moved, but in order to know it has been moved in the first place, you will require an alarm system also.