How to protect your caravan against theft
Your caravan could be a target for opportunistic thieves. Whether it's on a site, parked in your driveway or you're just stopping for a short time in a lay-by or a motorway service station, it's important to protect it. Caravan crime could be the result of criminals seeing opportunities and taking them. Protect yourself and your caravan by following some simple advice.
Immobilise your caravan, even when you stop only briefly. Make sure your caravan can't be towed away by following these simple tips:
- Lock the coupling head into a cover using a good quality hitchlock. Hitchlocks give a reasonable degree of protection from the opportunist thief.
- Use locking-wheel nuts and a good quality clamp on the caravan wheels.
- Think about securing each corner steady by using a good quality padlock and make sure it has a short shackle to prevent thieves from cutting through it.
- If you use a chain, make sure it's a strong, heavy duty one.
- You may also want to have a tracking device fitted, allowing the police or system operator to track the caravan if it is stolen.
You can get more information about caravan security devices by visiting the Sold Secure website (opens new window).
Make your caravan secure
You can take the following simple steps to stop thieves breaking into your caravan:
- Have a reliable alarm fitted and remember to turn it on whenever you leave your caravan, even if it is only for a short time.
- Always close doors, windows and any rooflight when you leave your caravan - even if it's only for a short time.
- Always lock your caravan and take your keys with you. At home, always keep your caravan keys in a safe place which is out of sight and away from windows and doors.
When your caravan is not in use
Remember, your caravan is even more vulnerable when it is not being used. Caravans left on sites, storage compounds and even on your driveway are particular targets for thieves.
But wherever it is, immobilise your caravan using quality wheel clamps or a security post fitted near the front of the ‘A’ frame and the main body (or both). Remove all your personal belongings and contents when you are not using your caravan.
Leave cupboard doors and curtains open - thieves can be put off by a caravan that is obviously empty. Store your caravan securely. If you are choosing a storage site, don’t just look at the price. Check to see that it offers good security measures.
Remember, if you can enter the storage area and remove your caravan without being approached, then so can a thief. If you’re leaving your caravan at home, ask a neighbour to keep an eye on your caravan as well as your house. And consider fixing good quality security posts on your drive to prevent your caravan being stolen while you are not there.
Always try to use a police-approved secured caravan park whenever possible. These have gained a police ‘Secured by Design’ award for security features which lessen the opportunity for crime to take place and offer a safer and more secure environment for you and your caravan. The crime prevention officer at your local police station will be able to give you information about any secured caravan parks in your area.
Get to know your neighbours
Keep an eye on each other's caravans and get to know who belongs on the site. Don’t be afraid to report anything suspicious to the site manager or the police.
Selling your caravan
Don’t forget the possibility of fraud. Thieves have used stolen cheques to buy caravans from unsuspecting owners. Never part with your caravan until the cheque has cleared your account. Remember to tell CRiS about the change of ownership by filling in the Notification of Sale section on the back of the Touring Caravan Registration Document.
Buying a second-hand caravan
Never buy caravans in pub car parks or motorway service stations. If you are meeting the seller at a house, always check that it is their home as thieves have been known to use the driveway of an empty house to sell stolen caravans. Also, always check the following when buying a second-hand caravan privately.
- Check that the caravan chassis number has not been removed or altered. If you have any doubts, contact your local crime prevention officer. Before buying privately, consider checking the caravan’s history on the Central Registration and Identification Scheme (CRiS) (opens new window). There is a charge for this service, but a quick phone call to check the status of the caravan you are thinking of buying could save you a lot of problems later on, so it is a worthwhile investment.
- Is the seller insisting on meeting you away from home, possibly to avoid being identified or traced? If so, why?
- Can the seller provide proof of identity and address?
- Check that all the caravan keys are available and correct.
- Check that the number plate is the same on the caravan and the tow car. Be wary if temporary or handwritten number plates are being used.
- Ask about any security devices that may have been fitted to the caravan by the seller.
- Ask the seller whether the caravan is registered with CRiS. If it is, ask the seller to fill in the Notification of Sale section on the back of the Touring Caravan Registration Document and send it to CRiS. The seller should then give you the rest of the Touring Caravan Registration Document and you must fill in the Notification of Changes section and send it to CRiS with the appropriate registration fee. You may also want to check with both major caravanning clubs to reassure yourself that the caravan has not been previously stolen if you have any doubts about the seller.
- Register your caravan. If the caravan you have bought is not already registered with CRiS, you may want to give serious thought to registering your caravan and having it electronically tagged, as this will help the police to identify and return your caravan if it is stolen.
Buying a new caravan
Always ask about built-in security when you buy a new caravan. Your dealer and manufacturer will be pleased to discuss additional security options with you. Since 1992, information on all touring caravans manufactured by National Caravan Council (NCC) members has been registered with the Caravan Registration and Identification Scheme (CRiS) - a national register for touring caravans in the UK. CRiS was set up by the NCC to give touring-caravan keepers their own registration system, similar to the DVLA system for cars. It provides a log book system with an exclusive history and checking service for touring-caravan keepers and dealers and is the only UK database for checking the history of a caravan.
All caravans produced since 1992 by NCC members are recorded at CRiS by their unique vehicle identification number (VIN). This VIN and the caravan description are recorded on the Touring Caravan Registration Document, which is sent by CRiS to the caravan’s registered keeper. All caravans manufactured since August 1997 are electronically tagged for added security. Ask your dealer whether the caravan comes with any extra security features such as an alarm or tracking device, caravan safe, hitchlock or wheel clamps.