How to stop thieves from stealing your campervan

The number of vehicles stolen in Britain has almost doubled in the last five years, new Home Office figures show, so here's how to stop thieves from stealing your campervan.

Vehicle thefts have gone up 50 per cent in five years, with Home Office figures revealing that 111,999 vehicles were stolen in the UK between April 2017 and March 2018, compared to 75,308 from April 2013 to March 2014.

What kinds of vehicles are going missing? Mostly luxury vehicles - including campervans. Although many of the statistics involve keyless cars, it is worrying that thieves are using a range of new technology to help them steal high-value desirable vehicles. Experts, including the RAC, say that organised gangs are stealing vehicles to order and shipping them abroad to sell on. The RAC points out that police numbers have been cut by 22,000 in the same period of time, due to government budget cuts. So it's more important than ever to protect your campervan.

The AA's head of roads policy, Jack Cousens, said,  “Car thieves have clearly shunned the old-fashioned opportunistic tactics of smash and grab. High-tech techniques like relay theft are becoming standard practice for thieves.” (Auto-Express.)

The Office of National Statistics shows that almost half of all recorded vehicle thefts involved criminals entering through an unlocked door. 41 out of 43 police forces in England and Wales saw an increase in vehicle crime in 2017.

POLICE KNOCKED ON MY DOOR

One of our customers has just asked us for advice. She said, "Last night a Range Rover and a Land Rover Discovery were stolen from my road.  Police have been knocking on doors and talking to everyone today and when I mentioned I was getting a campervan, they suggested quite strongly, that  I have a Thatcham Tracker installed. They said that without one I would never get my campervan back if it were stolen - and that having a Tracker would help with the insurance premium. Can you guys fit one?  Do you have any thoughts on Trackers and how effective they are?"

As responsible campervan converters we know that owners soon come to cherish their campervans and even give them nicknames. If anything happened to their van, they would be devastated - it would be almost like losing a member of the family. 

We felt we must do something to help customers protect their Sussex Campervans, so we did some research to follow up on our answer to the initial question, "How can I stop thieves from stealing my new campervan?" which we added to our FAQs - most frequently asked questions.

What do people use to stop thieves stealing their campervans?

ANTI-THEFT DEVICES FOR CAMPERVANS

  • Alarms
  • Immobilisers
  • Security film for the windows
  • Deadlocks
  • Steering locks or crook locks
  • Wheel clamps
  • Gear locks
  • Trackers

But which device or combination of devices is best to stop campervan thieves? Let's look at each in turn.

ALARMS

Your vehicle should come with a factory-fitted alarm, which you activate with the key when you lock the campervan. “The siren is usually situated under the bonnet and is activated upon opening the vehicle door. The alarm usually comes with a window sticker. This should “encourage the would-be thief to move on elsewhere” Camping and Caravanning Club (C&CC).

IMMOBILISERS

Since 1998 new vehicles have had to come with electronic mobilisers in the UK. The van's original factory-fitted immobiliser is preserved by the campervan builder during the van conversion process. How do immobilisers work? “Each time you switch off your engine, the immobiliser will automatically activate. Most immobilisers feature dual-circuit immobilisation to frustrate any attempts to start the engine by hot-wiring” C&CC.

WINDOW SECURITY FILM

This makes it harder to smash the campervan windows, even with a hammer. It’s an easy and effective way to stop casual thieves breaking in.  

DEADLOCKS

Adding deadlocks to all your campervan doors is a good way to stop thieves getting into your van. You’ll lock the camper with the main key fob, then use a separate key to engage the deadlock, as you would with your house. It’s ideal to use when you’re not in the van, even if  you’re just out for a walk in a beauty spot. Deadlocks are effective - though a thief  could still break a window if nobody is around. (See Window Security Film, above.)

STEERING LOCKS

Anti-theft steering wheel locks make a good visual deterrent to the casual thief. A good quality steering lock is hard for thieves to remove quietly, but easy for the owner, who has a key. It will take you less than a minute to attach or remove. This device was popular in the 1990s and is now making a comeback. There are several types.  

  • Original style steering lock - a bar - attached by hooks. 
  • Steering wheel to pedal bar - this stops the thief from steering or releasing the brake pedal. 
  • Enclosed lock - a hard shell that fits over the steering wheel. Effective, but bulky to store when not in use. 
  • Some steering locks have flashing lights or a siren as an extra deterrent.

WHEEL CLAMPS

“Extremely efficient at immobilising your vehicle, and the higher the quality, the more difficult they are to remove.” Camping & Caravanning Club (C&CC). It should stop a casual thief from having a go at removing it on the street. 

GEAR LOCKS

These “allow you to lock the gear stick to the hand brake.” C&CC.

TOWN VERSUS COUNTRYSIDE

Physical devices such as gear locks, steering locks and wheel clamps work best in built-up areas. Thieves could use a hammer or other tools to remove them in an isolated location where nobody would hear them. 

TRACKING DEVICES

“Sophisticated equipment that monitors your vehicle 24/7. When stolen, a signal is sent by remote control to a control centre, locating exactly where the vehicle is and stopping the thieves in their tracks.” C&CC.

CAN POLICE GET MY STOLEN CAMPERVAN BACK?

Prevention is better than cure, but if thieves do steal your campervan, contact the police immediately. Get a crime number, and then contact your campervan insurance company. One of the first things the police will ask you, is, “Does it have a tracking device fitted?” Give them all the details as quickly as possible and there is a good chance that they can recover your campervan and arrest the culprits.

campervan INSURANCE COMPANIES' ADVICE

Most campervan and motorhome insurance providers will insist that you install security products made by Sold Secure or Thatcham Research - and they much  prefer Thatcham products.

Sold Secure: a product testing service by the Master Locksmiths’ Association. Some leisure vehicle security products have a Sold Secure rating - from Diamond (highest rating) to Bronze.

Thatcham Research: the Insurance industry’s own testing centre. Many campervan and motorhome insurers insist that you must fit only Thatcham products, and may even reward you with a discount on the premium.

Thatcham has different categories for various security devices. 

Crime Prevention

  • Thatcham Electronic alarm and Immobiliser – Category 1
  • Thatcham Electronic/Electromechanical Immobiliser – Category 2
  • Thatcham Electronic Alarm Upgrade (General Application) – Category 2 – 1
  • Thatcham Mechanical Immobiliser – Category 3
  • Thatcham Wheel Locking devices – Category 4

Recovering Stolen Vehicles

The following categories exist to recover a vehicle after it has been stolen:

  • Thatcham After-theft Systems for vehicle recovery – Category 5
  • Thatcham Stolen Vehicle Tracking Systems – Category 6
  • Thatcham Stolen Vehicle Location Systems – Category 7

Tracking devices are sold with a supporting subscription - and you can choose to buy a one-year subscription, two, three, four or five-year subscription. When you ring the police to report a stolen vehicle, they will contact Tracker and ask staff to locate your stolen campervan, as quickly as possible.

TECH ADVICE - the TOP MOTORHOME SECURITY DEVICE

We consulted our expert radio and technology fitters for tech advice on the top motorhome security device to fit to stop thieves from stealing campervans.
They recommend that the main product we should offer you is Tracker - made by Tracker - the original company in the market.

For instance, Tracker Stolen Vehicle Locations Systems - the Thatcham Category 7 approved device - utilises all the latest technology to defeat thieves, including using VHF. As the original device, Tracker has a well established tie-in with the police force. The VHF transmitter means that even if your vehicle were moved into a shipping container it could potentially still be traced by the police, using Tracker and your subscription to the Tracker service.

HOW SUSSEX CAMPERVANS CAN HELP YOU

We recommend that you buy proper motorhome/campervan insurance and also use a combination of the methods above to stop thieves stealing your campervan. You can buy old-fashioned steering locks and wheel clamps on the High Street, so we are concentrating especially on the more technical devices - fitting Trackers. 

Tracker fitting must be completed by someone who has a thorough knowledge of our Sussex Campervans, in order to ensure that the fitting is completed correctly. If this is not done there is a risk of the thieves simply removing the tracking device and driving off. Therefore we do recommend that you have your Tracker fitted to your van through Sussex Campervans.  

We are very keen to help you with this and feel all our customers should have a Tracker fitted to their campervan for extra security.

We also have a number of other security features to offer you, so please do get in touch if you'd like to know more. 

CONTACT US

Please ring Paul, Jonathan or Chris at Sussex Campervans on 01403 336 369 or email hello@sussexcampervans.com.

If the phones are busy or it's out of hours, please email. Put your best contact number and a good time to ring in the email so that we can have a chat about Tracker and a range of other security devices that we can arrange for you. Speak soon!

Words: Kate Taylor
Photographs - top: Katie Elliott; below: Kate Taylor

2 .Sussex Campervans stock Paradise roof up.JPG
 

Buying a campervan

If someone offers to sell you a pre-owned campervan privately, perhaps at a bargain price, please check that the details match those held by the DVLA. Put the registration number, make, model and MoT test number into the government website to find out if it's stolen. If you can, look at the V5C (vehicle registration certificate - the modern equivalent of the log book) and photograph it. 

For complete peace of mind, get an HPI check, directly from HPI online

Let's work together to stop vehicle thieves taking our campervans!