Caravan advice: Keeping your caravan secure
Caravans offer us a route to see more of the world; they provide us with a hobby; they are a retreat from the grind of the modern world. They are valuable to us.
Unfortunately, they are also valuable to thieves, but for very different reasons. Theft is the blight of caravan ownership and anyone who has ever had a caravan stolen will know just how dreadful it can make you feel.
In fact, according to Nigel Milbank, MD of security expert, Milenco, theft has rarely been this much of a problem.
“Theft tends to follow market demand and demand has never been this high,” he said. “Very few caravans have been manufactured since March of this year and so demand is huge.”
We’ve looked at various ways to keep your caravan secure and shown how relevant each is in the three basic areas of caravan vulnerability; in transit, while away and while in storage, either at your home or in a commercial solution.
Some methods are more involved than others to increase the protection at times when the caravan is more vulnerable. But all are relevant, and all can have an effect on the likelihood that your caravan remains yours.
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Removing one or both wheels when in storage is not only useful to look after your tyres but it is also a good way to prevent someone easily hooking the caravan up and towing it away – they won’t get far if the caravan is on axle stands or a set of winter wheel stands.
These replace the wheels and tyres and while the caravan still sits on its suspension, the steel stands are fixed to the wheel hubs and the wheels and tyres stored safely away.
Before you do this, either for security or for storage, check your insurance policy doesn’t specify that a wheel clamp must be fitted when not in use, or it could invalidate your cover.
The only wheel clamp to achieve Diamond approval from Sold Secure, the Al-Ko Secure unit features a mounting point that fixes to the back of the wheel hub and then the locking unit passes through the wheel and locks to that mounting lug.
These can be quick and easy to use but only when the hole in the wheel spokes lines up with the locking pin – if not, the caravan must be moved or the wheel jacked up and turned. They also only work with some alloy wheels and not with steel wheels.
These, typically in conjunction with a wheel clamp, are what Nigel would suggest is the minimum level of security that any owner should employ, though you should check with your insurance company or policy security requirements.
The simplest is a barrel-lock that fits inside the hitch and prevents the handle from being lifted to attach the hitch to a tow vehicle. A more secure alternative is an external lock, that covers the entire hitch area, not only preventing the handle from being lifted, but also covering the towball opening below so that smaller balls or a simple spike can’t be used to drag the caravan away.
One that also covers the hitch mounting bolts is useful so that the whole thing can’t be removed.
When it comes to security products, the main standard used to rate them – and the one to look for – is Sold Secure, a testing house run on a not-for-profit basis by the Master Locksmiths Association.
It tests products and gives a Bronze, Silver, Gold or Diamond rating, depending on their levels of protection. Typically, products will be required to resist attack for five minutes with the severity of the attack determining the relevant standard.
For example, Gold locks will resist attack by carbide drills for that period while Bronze will protect against common high-speed steel drill bits.
Corner steady locks
If a potential thief can’t wind up the corner steadies easily, they’re not going to be able to tow the caravan away easily. There are various methods of preventing the steady winders from being turned and while determined thieves might be able to find a way around, it will take time and make noise – two of their enemies. They are a useful add-on.
If you store your caravan at home, in addition to CCTV and bright lighting, a security post in front of the caravan to stop it being moved can provide another level of security. Either folding or fully removable and with a towball mounting if required, they can be fixed to the ground to make life that bit more difficult for thieves.
A CCTV system covering the caravan itself may not in itself prevent a thief attempting to steal your van (some prominent stickers advertising it might be a benefit) but it might help to identify them after the act if they are caught.
Similarly, some strong lighting, at least intruder-activated, will put them off if they know they will be in full view while they’re trying to get into, or away with, your caravan.
Caravan Registration and Identification Scheme (CRiS)
Caravan ownership is registered with CRiS and owners are provided with markings for the caravan, including tamperproof stickers and data chips, similar to those used on pets.
In the event of a theft, the police can scan a caravan to see if it has been stolen and if so, who the rightful owner is. When buying a used caravan, check that it comes with CRiS paperwork and that any numbers or stickers haven’t been scratched away or removed.
Secure storage for caravans
If you don’t have room at home to store your caravan over winter, or at other times, then secure storage could be the answer. The Caravan Storage Site Owners Association (CaSSOA) sets out standards for secure caravan storage, such as fencing and access, CCTV coverage and entry and exit procedures.
There are three levels of site; Gold, Silver and Bronze and with sites across the UK, many insurance companies will offer discounts for using CaSSOA.
Wheels clamps will prevent the caravan being towed away if another vehicle manages to somehow get purchase on the hitch or pull it another way. There are several types of wheel clamp, from those familiar to anyone unlucky enough to park in the wrong spot to quick-fit devices that work like pincers through the wheel spokes.
Ideally, a wheel clamp should cover the wheel nuts or bolts, so the wheel can’t be removed and replaced with another and should be easy to use, so it’s not too much trouble to be useful.
The material the clamp is made of, as well as the lock that secures it, should also be considered – it’s no use fitting a strong clamp with a weak lock.
One of the key areas in motorcycle security is trackers, where the main players quote 95-98% recovery rates. Even a small GPS and/or GSM standalone tracker can help alert you if the caravan moves when it isn’t supposed to and you can then track its location and direct the police to it.
Thanks to Milenco – security and towing products
Al-Ko, security products
Bulldog, security products
Maypole, security products
Sold Secure, testing house
Caravan Registration and Identification Scheme (CRiS)
Caravan Storage Site Owners’ Association (CaSSOA)