RVs are easy and very tempting targets for thieves. First of all, they tend to be quite expensive and filled with many appliances and other valuables that can easily be sold on the black market.
We don’t know how many RVs are part of this unnerving statistic, but there are databases where regular people enter their stolen RV information in the hopes of finding it, such as this UK database that gets updated pretty regularly! There are also quite a few FB groups that have the same purpose.
All of this points to the sad realization that RV theft is a common occurrence throughout the world. And we’re talking here only about those RV thefts where the entire vehicle was stolen. What about those where “only” the appliances, money, documents and other valuables were stolen from inside the RV?
So I hope this puts things into perspective and shows you how people can become too naive about securing their vehicle. Just locking the door is obviously not enough in this day and age, and we have to take our personal security into our own hands.
In this article, you can learn the top 11 methods for preventing an RV theft.
1. Lock the wheels
Locking the wheel will serve two purposes. First of all, it’s a great deterrent. A carjacker or in this case an RVjacker is typically looking for the easiest target. If he sees an RV with locked wheels and one that isn’t secured in any way, guess which one he’ll go for? The only exception is if your RV is shiny, new and expensive, which could make it too tempting to resist.
But here we get to the second purpose, and that’s really the ACTUAL added security of a wheel lock. A steel wheel lock like the very popular Trimax Chock Lock (link to Amazon) cannot be removed without cutting through it with a large steel cutting saw. You can imagine how much noise and attention this activity would bring. It’s almost a mission impossible in any public, open environment.
The only times when a wheel lock is not necessarily fail-proof is if you’re parked in a remote and isolated place. For example, if you went camping and left your RV for an extended period of time in the middle of nowhere. Theoretically in that case the bad guys could cut through the wheel lock without anyone noticing.
Overall, a wheel lock is an amazing deterrent and security booster, which I highly suggest you use, especially when parking in less safe areas and for longer periods of time.
However, what if you have some valuable possessions inside your RVs cabin? Even if the thief cannot drive your RV away, they could still swoop around the cabin and steal valuable toys and appliances you have inside. Which leads us to the next important step..
2. Use a trailer hitch lock
As the name implies, a hitch lock is placed on the hitch to lock it so that the RV/trailer can’t be hitched to a vehicle. So in case a thief wants to hitch your RV to his vehicle and drive it off into the sunset, he’ll have a much harder time doing so. As always, you need to make sure that the lock is strong enough so that breaking it would require a ton of effort and time, two things that thieves are usually in short supply of.
I highly recommend not cheaping out on this one because the hitch lock (along with the wheel lock) is the most important security device you can use to protect your RV from being actually driven off. Securing the cabin is the next goal, but that won’t be of much importance if the RV can get attached to a different vehicle.
So a wheel lock and a hitch lock are super important. The best one by far is the AMPLOCK U-BRP2516, a cylinder lock made from stainless steel and cast iron. Here are just some security features that go beyond the usual:
- Mass of material of 12 pounds heavy that slow down all cutting type attempt
- Material absorb shock instead of breaking, the lock will fold/bump after impact
- Resist to torch cut and liquid nitrogen
- Better corrosion resistance
It’s also the recommended hitch lock by Canadian insurers. You can check out the current price and user reviews on Amazon.
2. Advanced door lock
Why should you replace the standard key handle with a keyless entry handle? Well, it’s not that you HAVE do it, but it can REALLY bolster your defenses. Because the key-lock is often manipulated by carjackers either by using force or by utilizing more intricate lock-picking methods with a thin wire. By eliminating these two common tactics, you can drastically cut down on the chances of your RV being broken into.
The keyless entry handle that I recommend is the RVLock V4 from Amazon. So how do you exactly open the door with it? There are two ways; either by using the intergrated keypad to enter your code, or with the remote fob which you can easily attach to a key chain. On top of security benefits, this is a convenient upgrade because you can open the door instantly and from distance when it’s raining, and it saves time in general.
While there are a couple of other good keyless handles available, I recommend the RVLock V4 in particular because of the 1 year warranty and the provenly reliable customer support, as you can check for yourself by going through the customer reviews on Amazon. In case you lose the remote fob for example, the manufacturer will send one to you almost instantly.
3. Lock the steering wheel
Locking the steering wheel is really simple and affordable. If you’re looking for just one easy tip to secure your RV, this is it. Use a steering wheel bar lock to make sure that the steering wheel can’t be steered in any direction.
The bar lock you use should have a thick steel construction which ensures that it can’t be broken without a serious toolkit at hand. The Club 1000 is a popular universal bar lock which can be used for securing a steering wheel in cars, RVs, light trucks and similar vehicles. Check out this video to see how it works:
4. Cover the windows
Allowing strangers to peak into your RV is never a good idea, especially if you have valuable tools and appliances. A thief is more likely to break-in if the reward for his efforts is laid out in front of him, then he would be if he was unaware of what’s inside.
Pulling down shades on your RV’s windows is an easy way to prevent theft by raising the perceived risk of there not being anything of value inside the RV or of someone being inside already. Because no one will be able to check if there is a person inside the RV or not if the windows are covered, unless they’ve been following you previously and are tracking your movement. Theoretically speaking, they could knock on your door, or throw something like a pebble to see if there’ll be any reaction, but most thieves try to be as sneaky as possible and avoid doing this sorts of things.
Since shades are useful for privacy reasons in general, as well for sun protection and getting better sleep, there are plenty of reasons to have them at hand. These thick 26″ x 24″ RV shades are an excellent choice for security and privacy reasons, as well as UV protection.
5. GPS tracking system
A GPS tracking system is an awesome backup device. Because in case the RV gets stolen, you will be able to track it down instantly. Most thieves will not suspect that you have a tracking device, because let’s be honest, many people don’t have one. But professional carjackers will definitely be more cautious. Therefore, you should hide it as best as you can.
A portable safe can be used for this purpose. The thieves will eventually try to open the safe, but it will require too much work and produce noise, so they’ll leave it for later, AFTER they’ve stolen the RV and drove it to what they believe is a safe location. But what they don’t know is that you have a GPS tracking device in the safe! So I hope that you see the wicked genius of this backup security tactic.
While there are many GPS devices you could use, most of them have a monthly fee which makes it a pricey investment in the long-run. Why is this the case? Well because GPS tracking is a service just like using the Internet connection. However, the Vyncs GPS Tracker requires only a one-time $30 activation fee and it works for the entire year, after which you can renew the service to continue using it. That’s really the most affordable premium option on the market. And one of the most popular ones (what a coincidence!), with over 800 customer reviews on Amazon.
6. Car Alarm
An alarm is a good deterrent, and they’re so cheap nowadays that it’s foolish not to have at least one in your home and vehicle. The Doberman Security’s wireless door alarm is the one I personally have on my front door at home. It’s very easy to set up, just stick it to any flat surface, such as a door or a window, turn the switch on and you’re done.
It’s very sensitive to vibrations, but it doesn’t get triggered by rain or wind, just by someone moving the door or trying to open it. When it does get triggered, it produces 100 dB of painfully annoying sound. You also get 2 remote controls so you can turn it on/off from a distance. One of these Doberman alarms costs less than $20, so you could get one for each door without spending too much. Or you can take your chances and pick the doors you think are the most vulnerable for break-in attempts.
However, chances are that someone trying to break into any door in your RV will produce enough vibrational stimulus for the alarm to go off, even if it’s placed on a different door. So like I said, it’s a game of chance if you decide to secure only some doors, but it’s still definitely better to have at least partial alarm security than none at all.
7. Portable safe
If someone manages to break into your RV, they’ll try to do one or both of these things: steal the RV or steal the most expensive items it. This is why having a portable safe that is secured to the RV with bolts or a thick chain is very useful. You can buy a portable safe that is both fireproof, waterproof and very tough for less than $50. The SentrySafe (link to Amazon) has all of these features. It was labeled the “Best Portable Safe” by Consumer Report in 2018.
This small investment will provide you with peace of mind, especially if you keep important documents, money and other valuables in your RV. And as I mentioned before, you could also store a GPS tracking device inside the safe as a backup security tactic.
8. Learn about the place
Travelling with an RV provides you with a lot of freedom, but freedom always come with some dangers. If you don’t know which locations are safe, you could be driving into a dangerous part that the locals tend to avoid for good reason.
Knowing where to park your RV, especially if you plan on leaving it there for a longer period of time, requires at least basic knowledge of the location you’re in. Asking the resort host, sheriff’s department or other travelers who have past experience about the best places to stay is recommended.
Speaking with the locals is a great way to learn more about the dangerous that often aren’t mentioned by guidebooks and tourist websites.
9. Limit social media
If you have social media accounts that can be viewed by just about anyone, it’s best not to share your location while you’re travelling in any way. That includes sharing photos, your location, or telling the world where you’ll be at a certain time.
It doesn’t take much IQ power to figure out why this is a bad idea; anyone can see your location, including a thief who is in the area and looking for a naive tourist to take advantage of. If you are eager to share photos and special moments from your trip, it’s best to do it AFTER you’ve left the location.
But there is a simple way to go around this danger. For example, if you have a private social media account that only your closest friends and relatives have access to, the risk is significantly smaller since random strangers can’t see the content you’re sharing anyway.
10. Pack your bags
Oftentimes people leave money, documents and other small, but very valuable possessions in their vehicle. This especially occurs during summer on camping sites, but it’s really not a smart move.
You can get a large security backpack for less than $50 which allows you to carry all of those small items as well as your laptop, tablet and smartphone with you without discomfort.
A security backpack is much safer than a regular backpack because it’s slash-proof, has secret pockets, and you can even lock it to an object like a tree while you’re taking a dip in the ocean, or to a table if you’re in closed quarters.
Either way, it’s a good addition if you have a lot of small and very important items that would ruin your trip if they got stolen. If you think this could be helpful on your journeys, check out my list of the best security backpacks for travel.
11. Clean your devices
Your financial data, contact information and (incriminating) pictures can all be targeted by a thief. A thief could potentially enter your RV, look through your electronic devices to find this information and use it without you even noticing until the damage is done. The same can happen if your device gets stolen of course, but at least in that case you will know sooner if your information is in the wrong hands.
So clearing your browsing history and other data (such as auto-fill for passwords and online payments) regularly is a great idea. You can set this automatically by using certain apps or even better, use the incognito tab in your browser so that your online activity doesn’t get stored in your browser in the first place.
Final Word: Securing an RV from theft
I’m sure this article has given you great ideas on how to secure your RV better. I hope it also showed you just how many potential security weaknesses there are that can be exploited.
We typically ignore these dangers, thinking that luck will always be on our side, and that those people who’s RVs gets stolen are just really unlucky. Until it happens to us, and then our whole conception of how the world works changes as we realize that it’s not as safe as we previously assumed.
It only takes one thief for that shift from wishful to realistic thinking to happen. But you don’t have to learn everything from your own mistakes. There are close to 800 000 unlucky people every year who’s luck suddenly changes that you can take as inspiration for taking extra measures to secure your RV. I hope this helps!