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Not having owned a caravan or trailer I’ve had to carry out a great deal of research before providing this new page. Fortunately I have a couple of friends who own them and their experience has been of great help to me. That said, the same rules of crime prevention apply and so hopefully I’ve covered every angle. Much of what is said about caravans can be applied to other forms of trailer.
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How many caravans are stolen each year?
Trying to find some sort of ‘official’ statistics for theft from and of caravans has been extremely difficult. I suspect they are hiding in plain sight, so sorry I couldn’t find them.
The best I could find is some historical data still online from the Caravan Club showing thefts from ’94 to ’07 giving a range of caravan thefts from a low of 679 to a high of 1,918 (in 2003). I’ve also found numerous references to 1,600 per year and ‘up to’ 4,000 a year mentioned on several other websites. Back in 2008 the AA were talking about up to 4,000 a year and Tracker, who provide tracking systems for both motor vehicles and caravans, cover it both ways suggesting that ‘anything’ between 1,600 and 4,000 caravans are stolen each year. So for our purposes let’s take 2,800 as the average taken per year.
What are your chances of having your caravan stolen?
To work this out we need to find out how many caravans are actually out there! A couple of websites give a figure of 500,000 touring caravans on the road at the moment, so if we divide that number by the 2,800 stolen each year we can suggest a chance of 1 caravan stolen for every 179 on the road each year or a 0.56% chance per year. Compare this with your chance of being burgled, which is currently (using the same base) about 2.4 houses out of every 179 or 1.3%. Not a lot of consolation if you’ve had your caravan stolen, I know, but still a helpful comparison if you have to make choices. However, and this is very important, very few stolen caravans are ever recovered, because their identifying marks are removed by the thieves before selling them on, so although your chances of losing the caravan are quite low (especially if you follow the guidance) the financial loss could be greater than the average burglary.
The likelihood of you losing your caravan to thieves will not be 1 in 179, but will be somewhere either side of that figure. These are the things that increase your chances of caravan theft:
- Caravans around 2 or 3 years old are more likely to be stolen
- People who fail to follow sensible crime prevention advice when out on the road and staying on sites are more likely to suffer a theft
- Caravans that are not stored securely are more likely to be stolen
- Caravans that have not been fitted with additional security devices are more likely to be stolen
I know I’m stating the proverbial obvious here, but facts are facts and I’m sure you can see by now that by strictly following the advice your chances of losing your caravan can be reduced to the point where theft is highly unlikely. Note that I have not said it won’t or can’t happen, because that would be stretching my argument too far. We can only talk about chances and you need to get yours as close to a 0% as you can!
Insurance companies exist to make profits for their shareholders. They happen to make their money by providing you with insurance cover. Should you need to make a claim they will first of all look to see how they can minimise what they pay you or not pay you at all. They can do this because you will have signed and or agreed a contract and if you have failed to do something, which results in the theft, don’t be surprised if you have difficulty claiming.
So, my advice is to insure your caravan and to do everything asked of you, without fail.
The good news is that caravan security doesn’t have to cost that much extra on top of what running the thing is already costing. In fact, a number of security devices will require a one-off payment and will sit with your caravan for as long as you keep it.
Preventing theft of the caravan
- When parked or not in use lock the caravan in several ways using devices such as a hitchlock, locking wheel nuts, a wheel clamp, a wheel lock and steady locks. Visit the Sold Secure website for more information about caravan security devices. If using chains ensure they are very heavy duty – go to the Sold Secure site
- Do consider fitting a tracking device
- Fit an alarm and use it whenever the caravan is vacated
- Consider installing a caravan safe
- Consider hiding several identifying RFID electronic tags around the caravan in case a thief removes the visible vehicle identification numbers (VINs). Most caravans will already be installed with RFID tags under the CRiS scheme – see below
- Windows, doors and rooflights should be closed and locked whenever the caravan is vacated. Consider supplementing any manufacturer’s fitted locks with additional locks if appropriate
- Do not leave paperwork relating to the caravan inside the caravan, such as the CRiS registration form as this can help a thief to sell it on
- Keep your caravan keys separate from the car keys and keep them on your person or when at home put them in an insurance rated safe
- Photographs of the interior and of identifying marks may be useful for later identification
- Ensure your CRiS registration details are kept up-to-date
- Make a note of serial numbers of equipment kept on-board
When not in use:
- Keep the caravan in a secure storage compound. If you find one that has been independently assessed for its security then so much the better (See Caravan Storage below)
- Remove personal belongings and cupboard contents and leave the cupboard doors and curtains open
- If keeping the van at home do consider installing pull-up or lever-up security posts to obstruct the driveway and to provide additional anchoring points to secure the caravan
When on site:
- Introduce yourself to neighbouring caravan owners and campers and look out for each other, reporting any suspicious behaviour to the site staff and or the police
- Follow the relevant guidance above when the caravan is vacated
- Try to use sites that provide a good level of security. If the site has been independently assessed for security then so much the better
- Use security measures laid on by the site and follow their security procedures
Physical security devices
There is a huge array of physical security devices for use with caravans, including hitchlocks, wheel clamps, wheel nuts, replacement (and more secure) door lock cylinders, steady locks and retractable and levered posts to block a driveway used for storage and to enable locking by the hitchlock or chassis.
Manufacturers will make many claims about how good their products are, but the only sure way of knowing which is best or how good it is will be to purchase one that has been independently tested to a recognised security standard. I therefore recommend that you visit the Sold Secure website and purchase products that meet their standards where these are available.
This is what Sold Secure says about Caravan security products
Sold Secure approves locking systems [by testing them] using the tools that a typical thief would carry.
There are three levels of security approval:
- The Silver level offers basic security, a cost effective product for the occasions when a caravan is stored in a good location
- When a higher level of security is required, then the products approved to the Gold standard are available
- The Diamond level is the highest of all and offers maximum protection. Ground anchors and security posts are available for fixed security at the caravan’s main storage point
Sold Secure is a test house and certifying body owned by the Master Locksmiths Association http://www.soldsecure.com/ Tel: 01327 264687
A wide range of alarms designed for caravan use are available. A check on the Sold Secure website today (2 April 2015), who have a security standard for caravan alarms, did not reveal any that carry their approval, unfortunately. Take your time in deciding what alarm to purchase by comparing the specifications of each. You may want to create a grid to make your comparison easier. They range from wireless systems that connect to a 12 volt battery and signal activations to several ‘keyholders’ via mobile phones through to a simple standalone battery operated alarm, the sort you might have in a shed. An audible siren is necessary in all cases, but bear in mind that these can be attacked by the intruder to silence them.
Modern tracking systems use GPS to track the location of your vehicle and or caravan and will help you locate it after it’s been stolen, providing the tracking device has not been discovered and removed from the caravan. Some systems will alert the owner via the mobile phone network should the vehicle be moved.
Make sure that the tracking system you purchase has been designed for use with caravans. Look for a system that has been approved by Sold Secure or Thatcham
If you want a police response to an alert from your tracking system then you’ll need to purchase one that meets with the Association of Chief Police Officers Stolen Vehicle Tracking Policy
The police won’t recover the caravan for you (you’ll have to make your own arrangements for recovery), but they will respond to a request to find it and notify you of where it has been found and take action if a crime has been committed. That being said the police do not offer any guarantees of response. Response will be determined by a number of factors, not least the demands on police resources at the time of the alert.
You will incur an installation charge for a professionally installed system and there will be ongoing monitoring fees.
CRIS (Caravan Registration and Identification Scheme)
All touring caravans manufactured since 1992 by members of the National Caravan Council (NCC) have been marked on their chassis and on all windows with their unique 17 digit Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), which are recorded on the CRiS database. Since 1997 they have also been electronically tagged (See RFID Chips below) and from 1999 CRiS was extended to include the registration of caravans manufactured prior to 1992 and privately imported caravans. CRiS also provides a microdot marking system, which can be applied to a number of surfaces inside the caravan. Each microdot carries the VIN.
RFID Chips (transponders) and Asset Marking
RFID chips are used for asset identification and if your caravan has not been installed with these transponders then it is recommended that you do use them along with a DNA marking system. These products are often supplied together as a whole marking system. Once tagged and marked (You do this yourself) you then register your caravan (or motor home) with the supplier.
The typical system includes tiny electronic transponders (RFID chips) which have unique embedded codes, a unique DNA UV solution, which may also contain identifying microdots, tamper evident chassis plates, warning labels and a registration form. Using a system like this permanently identifies the caravan as belonging to you and it is almost impossible to remove the entire DNA marking even if the RFID chips are found, which is also unlikely if well hidden.
All UK police forces have access to RFID transponder readers. During police road-side operations the readers are often used to check the ownership of caravans, trailers, agricultural vehicles and plant machinery.
Use a system that meets recognised security standards. See Standards for Property Marking Products and Services for further information. Suppliers of such systems, often mentioned in caravanning literature, include Datatag and Selecta DNA
Consider applying roof marking that can be seen by the police from helicopters and motorway bridges. It is recommended that you use the CRiS number together with the year of manufacture. Do not use your postcode.
When a caravan is not being used most owners will keep them at a caravan storage site. It would be very wise to ensure that the site you store them at is secure and this website therefore recommends you use a site that has been accredited by CaSSOA – the Caravan Storage Site Owners’ Association.
CaSSOA (Caravan Storage Site Owners’ Association) represents caravan storage site owners’ across the UK and work towards minimising caravan theft by promoting the highest levels of security.
There are over 400 CaSSOA accredited caravan storage sites across the UK, which have been independently assessed by an experienced surveyor for security features, access and amenities to make sure they provide superior levels of protection from theft.
There are three levels of CaSSOA accredited storage: Bronze, Silver or Gold. Accreditation is based on a number of features including CCTV, access control, perimeter fencing and alarm systems.
Bronze rated facilities have good basic fencing and security systems to deter thieves while the highest Gold rating is only given to compounds with the most rigorous standards in their facilities and processes.
Because CaSSOA is a recognised membership body providing security accreditations, many insurance companies offer policy discounts for vehicles stored on secure CaSSOA sites.
There are CaSSOA accredited storage sites nationwide. Visit http://www.cassoa.co.uk/find-a-cassoa-site/ to find your nearest site.
Asset Marking Suppliers
Selecta DNA https://www.selectadna.co.uk/
Important Caravanning Organisations:
CRiS (Central Registration and Identification Scheme) www.cris.co.uk
CSSG (Caravan Safety and Security Group) http://www.cssginfo.co.uk/
NCC (National Caravan Council) http://www.thencc.org.uk/
The Caravan Club http://www.caravanclub.co.uk/
The Camping and Caravanning Club http://www.campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk/
Caravan Storage Site Owners’ Association http://www.cassoa.co.uk/
Updated 12 06 15