What is the best way to secure your motorhome against burglary or theft? What are weak points? What is better not to do? In this blog, I am going to talk about this. Written on 20-05-2023 by Jorg. Reading time: 5 minutes.
Why secure your motorhome?
Why secure your campervan? Vanlife, living and travelling by van is hugely popular since Carola (March 2021) and it shows in the prices. Factory and unbuilt campervan prices are skyrocketing and even normal commercial vans are becoming worth more rather than less in the last 3-4 years. If a van is nicked, it is likely to be taken apart for parts. Now being stolen is of course very scary but mostly it will be burglary. Electronic devices like ipads, laptops, cameras or drones (or expensive bikes/ sports gear) are an easier target.
Visibly secure your motorhome?
If you visibly secure your motorhome, then “they” know you have valuable stuff, right? So maybe it’s better not to do this? NOT! Burglars are always interested in getting in and out quickly/easily. If there are 3 motorhomes next to each other in a secluded spot and 1 of them is our van PACO and the other 2 are older integral motorhomes with weak doors, I can guarantee that those 2 motorhomes will be empty and they won’t even start on PACO.
What is the best security for your motorhome?
Seems like a difficult question; but the answer is simple. Preventive Physical Security through heavy metal. Suppose you have €500 budget to make your bus burglar-proof invest in actual locks or bull-lock or door locks and NOT an alarm or GPS tracker.
Hiding the spare key under your camper?
Think you can be clever and hide your spare key under your camper? The fact that I dedicate a paragraph to this says enough; DO NOT DO THIS. After all, many people do this and burglars know it too.
What are typical weaknesses in your motorhome's security?
-Be able to look inside
-The motorhome windows/roof hatches
-In mobile homes the doors are easy to force
-In old vans the locks are not great
-Keyless entry on your van
-You (you are with friends, number of vans at a campfire and you leave your van open “because there are so many people anyway”…)
How do you secure the motorhome properly and cheaply?
I think the best example for this is by sharing how our PACO is secured. This is done cheaply and with as much “heavy metal” as possible as I explained earlier.
Security can be divided into two pieces; (1) protection against burglary and (2) protection against couples complete camper. Here is a list of our measures;
-Standard locks on all Ford Transit doors (free of charge)
-Additional Physical locks on rail (€40 for 2) sliding doors
-Hitch lock (€50 used)
-Interior door locks (Heosafe) (€140)
-Steering lock (€15)
-Metal “locks” camper windows (€15 x 2)
-Apple Airtag (€30) GPS
Standard locks: no more explanation needed here: always lock your doors and put the steering wheel in steering lock.
Physical locks on sliding doors: this is a very simple and cheap security for van camper. Drill a hole in the track of your sliding door and click a lock into it. I wish the burglar who wants to get this open good luck.
Tow bar lock (Bull-bar): another good example of preventive physical heavy metal as security. With a towbar lock, you secure the rear folding doors and they can no longer be opened. 2nd hand, such locks cost around €50, and in addition you need another lock (we got 3 locks for €60; very heavy locks and all the same key).
Door locks; we have these from the Heosafe brand (€140). Gives a huge boost of security to motorhome access. Even if they smash your window; they can’t get the door open (and from outside you can see these locks too; works preventively).
Steering wheel lock: we have a (far too) simple one of about €15. This one is mainly preventive/as a deterrent. I find this in combination with all other locks sufficient. If you only use a steering wheel lock, for example: buy a decent one.
Metal locks camper windows: the weakest spot with us is by far the two large dometic camper windows on the sliding doors (yes we have two). It’s very easy to force them open from the outside with a thin piece of metal. We have made this just a little bit more difficult by using metal locks from the brand “Lock m out”. This is not a dream solution, but it is the bare minimum. In addition, these windows are blinded, making it impossible to look inside. We also always close the shutters on the inside so that you can’t see anything at all from outside.
Apple airtag; a decent GPS system will soon cost €100 to €150 and then your SIM card with any subscription. On top of that, equipment is easy to find a GPS tracker again so they’ll take that out in no time too. Also, a GPS tracker is a last resort, and I would rather secure by means of physical locks such as a steering wheel lock or door lock. Nevertheless, we opted for an Apple Airtag. This costs €30 and is easy to hide.
Additions/ additional information
Some more interesting additions not covered in this Blog.
Very important: where do you leave the motorhome? In big cities, the risk of problems is usually much higher than in a village with few campervans. Park e.g. in Istanbul/ Barcelona/ Lisbon in a guarded car park.
Preventive/deterrent security is always preferable. Example: you can often secure your rear doors from the inside as well. Trouble is, though: burglars only find out you have those when your half doors are broken down.
Purely for security, it is better that driving area and living area of the camper are closed off from each other.
Good security not yet mentioned:
-Bearlock on gearbox
-Pedal lock on brake or clutch pedal
-Mount a safe for papers, etc.
-Instead of door locks, you can put a strap between the 2 front doors.
Closing words 🙂
I don’t want to scare people too much because there is no need for that at all, use your common sense and your gut and especially watch out in crowded areas or popular spots. The reason we have so much security is also because I enjoyed being able to secure the bus in a cheap way.