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Motorhome Security Top Tips
Motorhomes have never been more popular in the UK – new registrations increased by 83% between 2009 and 2018, and the 14,655 new motorhome registered in 2018 represented an all-time high according to figures from the National Caravan Council. And it looks like 2019 is set to be another bumper year, as moving annual total registrations are up by 5% year-on-year as of March.
Unfortunately, motorhomes and caravans are also as popular as ever among opportunistic thieves and organised criminal gangs, with incidences of motorhome theft increasing in line with overall motor thefts.
That’s why it’s important you keep your motorhome security up to scratch – here’s how to best maximise the security of motorhome vehicles.
Why are motorhomes so appealing to thieves?
Motorhomes are typically built on a Fiat, Ford or Peugeot chassis cab and tend to be low mileage and well maintained, making them attractive to thieves for component stripping to feed the van market.
Sadly, incidences of motorhome theft are on the increase in line with overall motor thefts. According to the Association of British Insurers, motor theft claims have increased by 20% in 2019, and motor theft claims paid by insurers in the first quarter of this year were at their highest for any quarter since 2012, with a payment made to a car crime victim every eight minutes.
The ABI claim that the increase is in part being driven by keyless car crime, whereby hi-tech criminals are able to bypass keyless technology in as little as 20 seconds. And this would certainly seem to be the case with a large number of motorhome thefts, as an increasing number are being stolen when they are parked on driveways.
If your motorhome is stolen, having the right insurance policy in place will mean that you can at least have the peace of mind that you’ll be compensated financially for your loss, but an insurance payout can never compensate you for the inconvenience and disruption that vehicle theft causes.
The good news is that most theft is opportunistic, and thieves generally don’t like to work too hard, so if they see a motorhome fitted with wheel locks, steering or handbrake locks, it may be enough to put them off.
That’s why it makes sense to deter thieves by having additional motorhome security devices fitted.
Here’s how to protect against motorhome theft by using a range of useful security solutions.
How to protect your motorhome from theft
Whether you’ve just bought a brand new motorhome, or you have an older model that’s seen you through any number of adventures, you should ensure it has sufficient security devices to both deter opportunistic thieves or stop more committed criminals dead in their tracks.
Here are some top motorhome security tips and motorhome security devices to help you do just that.
Protect your keys
The best way to ensure the security of your motorhome is to make life difficult for would-be thieves.
When not using your motorhome, you should always remove your keys from the ignition and store them in a safe place or keep them on you, even if you just nip back into the house for a minute.
You also need to be mindful that your vehicle is at risk from thieves when it’s parked up outside your home, and there are two, very different ways in which your motorhome could be taken:
- Stolen keys – Keys are being stolen by thieves actually breaking into vehicle owner’s homes, so keep them away from windows & doors where they can be seen and grabbed.
- Relay attack – If your vehicle no longer requires a key to open the doors or start the engine, thieves don’t need to break into your home to make off with your motorhome. They can use a device to pick up a signal from the key fob and relay a signal from the key fob directly to the vehicle, allowing them to get in and drive away immediately. To prevent against this type of theft, keys should be stored out of sight and in a Faraday pouch.
Fit wheel clamps
Although wheel clamps can seem quite rudimentary, they are an extremely efficient and effective way to immobilise your motorhome. They are portable and can be used wherever your motorhome is parked, whether at home, on the road or on a campsite.
When storing your motorhome at home, it might be worth installing bollards at the end of your driveway or wherever the motorhome is kept. Like wheel clamps, bollards prevent thieves from driving it away.
Improve your home security
Consider installing PIR lights trained on your parking space, which illuminate when they sense movement. Also, consider investing in your own CCTV which can stream pictures to your smartphone.
Disable your motorhome
There are various types of steering locks, such and bar-locks and circular locks, or you could even use a chain and padlock to secure the steering wheel to stop your motorhome being driven. Similarly, gear locks allow you to lock your motorhome gear stick to the hand brake and stop thieves making off with your motorhome, while clutch claws allow you to lock your clutch, typically locking it to the brake pedal. Whichever you choose, all three types of lock are a great visual and highly portable deterrent.
Fit enhanced door security
Criminals are increasingly attacking the manufacturer’s factory fitted (OEM) driver’s door cylinder with screwdrivers, or lock picking devices, typically gaining access within just a few seconds. Upgrading door security will help combat break-ins to your motorhome.
Use VIN Chip technology
These tiny ‘Radio Frequency Identification’ chips are discreetly hidden randomly within the body and chassis of the Motorhome. They record critical information unique to the vehicle’s 17-digit chassis number – e.g. registered keeper, make and model. They can be read by law enforcement officers from a distance and/or whilst the vehicle is travelling at speed, to establish the bona fide nature of the motorhome.
Fit an alarm and immobiliser
Another old-school deterrent, alarms offer a great audio deterrent for your motorhome. The siren is usually situated under the bonnet and is activated upon opening the vehicle door. Typically alarms are integrated into other forms of security devices, including immobilisers, which are invariably fitted as standard to all new vehicles and are particularly helpful if a thief gains access to your motorhome. Each time you switch off your engine, the immobiliser with automatically activate. Most immobilisers feature dual-circuit immobilisation to frustrate any attempts to start the engine by hot-wiring.
Install a tracking device
It’s also worth installing a tracking device alongside any alarm and immobiliser system. These sophisticated pieces of equipment monitor your motorhome 24/7 and, if stolen, send a remote signal to a control centre, which identifies its exact location to help police recover it. Trackers are often required by insurers for higher value motorhomes.
Utilise On-Board Diagnostic electronic port protection
These devices lock the OBD port of your motorhome to prevent unauthorized access to its systems via the OBD port. They help to prevent ‘keyless theft’ or ‘electronic compromise’; whereby thieves do not need the keys to your motorhome to steal it. Most vehicles taken without keys are stolen using equipment which plugs into the OBD port. This intelligent equipment ‘hacks’ the system and is able to bypass the motorhome’s integrated security protocols in order to program a new key.
Use whole vehicle marking systems
Consider using a marking solution for your motorhomes, such as SmartWater or window etching, to provide a unique identification which helps deter thieves and aid recovery of your motorhome in the event of it being stolen.
Display deterrent signs
Whether you’ve fitted a tracking device, security marked your motorhome or deployed another means of security, don’t forget to put a sticker in the window to warn potential thieves. Hopefully, they’ll take note and leave your motorhome alone.
From storage site to campsite, taking the right security precautions will help prevent your motorhome from being stolen
Make sure your motorhome is fully insured
Fitting quality devices will not only make your motorhome more secure, but it could also help lower your insurance premium – fitting approved locks and trackers can help to cut the cost of your motorhome insurance, and some insurers might even insist on a minimum level of security before they’ll cover you.
To find the right policy to suit your needs, give our motorhome insurance experts a call on 0800 0304 206 – our unrivalled choice of policies is what helps 93% of our customers rate our service as ‘Excellent’ on Trustpilot with a customer satisfaction score of 9.7 out of 10.*
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