One of the first things I thought about when buying my camper was how to keep it secure.
Finding ways to protect it against theft and people with bad intentions was very important. It wasn’t only for the added protection while camping, but also when the unit was being rented out or in storage during the off-season. No one wants to get that dreaded call from the person renting your RV or the police department.
The thought of losing your valuables to thieves when traveling is nauseating, so here are some of the best precautions to use to keep your camper secure from theft.
7 Ways to Protect Your Camper
1. Upgrade All The Locks on Your Camper
The first thing you should do before taking the camper out is to upgrade the entry doors and access panel locks. There are a handful of generic keys, most being the CH751 key, that open doors, and compartments on your unit. This leaves the door open (pardon the pun) to anyone with a key to try to access your motorhome, camper rig, or fifth wheel.
If you’re buying your unit brand new, ask the dealer to change the locks out for you. There’s a nominal fee to do this and it will give you peace of mind knowing that no one is going to access your unit with a generic key.
2. Tint Your Camper Windows
My first appointment after leaving the dealership was getting the windows tinted. This not only helps prevents someone from seeing your belongings, but can also help keep the unit cooler.
My unit for four windows was $150 with the darkest tint available. Because you are not driving the camper, there are no laws (in Florida) governing how dark you can tint the windows. However, check the tint laws in your state to make sure.
For an added layer of security, invest in a decent pair of shades or blinds, which you’ll want to have anyway for the evenings you sleep with your window open.
2. Solar-Powered Motion Lights
Find solar-powered motion sensor lights that you can install on your travel trailer. With them being solar powered, you won’t have to tap into any of your electrical wirings and it’s very DIY.
Be conscious of the location and simple physics while installing the lights. If you put them on the side of your unit and they are not aerodynamic, they could rip off the moment your unit hits 55 mph. The most strategic place for these lights with the least wind resistance is on the back of your unit.
Use the same logic if you’re installing security cameras for video surveillance on the outside of your camper. There are some cool video security systems that easily let you monitor your unit from an iPad or a laptop.
If installing lights on your unit seems like too much work, you can always go with the stick-in-the-ground solar lights and create a lit path to your unit. Some light is better than no light.
3. Trailer Hitch Coupler Lock
We are going to talk a lot about hitch locks in this article because used together, they are added layers of security and theft deterrent, preventing RV thefts.
This device goes where the hitch from your truck goes and locks into place. Once you disconnect your camper from the truck, you can put this in place to prevent someone from driving off with your camper.
They make a generic size to fit 1-7/8″, 2″, and 2-5/16″ hitches and come with two keys that are unique to your lock.
READ MORE: 12 Accessories You Need For Your Camper
4. Trailer Hitch Latch Lock
This lock is made of high-strength steel that goes into the latch of your travel trailer. The purpose of this lock is to prevent someone from lifting the latch and connecting to your camper. These are made by different brands and come with a set of keys.
5. Trailer Hitch Receiver Pin Lock
You can think of a trailer hitch receiver lock as a deadbolt for your tow vehicle. This prevents anyone from walking away and stealing your hitch. This works by replacing the hitch pin with a pin that has a lock on the end of it.
You may be thinking, but how does this help keep my unit secure?
Think of this as a steering wheel lock for your car. But instead of being on your steering wheel, it’s on your hitch. It helps by keeping the hitch secure on your vehicle. Without a hitch, you’re stranded and won’t be able to tow your camper anywhere.
If someone thinks taking off with your camper is too much work, they could easily walk up to the back of your truck, pull the pin, and have themselves a brand new receiver. This locking mechanism prevents that. Since most receivers are one size, it would be no problem selling it to the right person.
This is a matter of preference because you can always remove your hitch and put it in your vehicle once you arrive at the campsite.
6. Camper/RV Insurance
Do not skimp on insurance coverage for your camper or RV. This is an essential piece to making sure you are both covered and compensated if something were to go wrong.
Make sure you cover all the bases regarding the payoff if it were to get stolen or totaled. And just like an automobile policy, make sure you’re well-equipped with both comprehensive and collision insurance.
7. GPS Tracker
Our final item is more theft recovery than theft prevention. This small unit that you can hide anywhere in your camper is the size of a cell phone and constantly transmits a GPS signal to where the camper is located.
Pros: You will be able to locate your unit by your phone or desktop with a simple login. It will tell you exactly where your camper is located.
Cons: Depending on where you are and the signal it is using will determine how long the battery will last. It operates on both GPS and cell phone towers for accuracy and to make sure it always stays online. Battery charging takes up to four hours.
The unit does require a monthly, quarterly, semi-annual, or annual subscription to use the service, but it’s well worth it for the peace of mind.
The monthly rate is $19.95 but comes down to around $15 per month if you buy a year in advance. You can also turn it on and off if you will go months at a time not using your unit and it’s in storage.
If you’re renting your unit, this could be invaluable in case something were to go wrong and you had to get to your camper quickly.
Realistically, what could stop someone from backing up to your camper, hitching up, and driving away with it? Depending on where you are, not much. If someone wants something bad enough, they’ll find a way to get it. There are some smart crooks out there, but staying two steps ahead of them can save you a lot of time and money.
The sky is the limit on the items you can add to secure your unit. Alarm systems, wheel clamps, a keyless entry system, boot locks, wheel locks, and night-vision cameras are all available. Sometimes perception is reality and just sticking alarm company stickers on your unit may be the only anti-theft device you need.
Whether you keep your camper at an RV park, campground, storage unit, a driveway, or one of the many storage facilities in a major city, always be diligent when it comes to RV security.
This article was originally published in June 2020. It was updated and republished in January 2022.