Caravan Security

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More than a million people holiday in their caravans each year, but just like your home, thieves will try to steal your possessions, or even the caravan itself! Each year around 3,000 caravans are stolen, the cost of this crime adds up to around £12million.

Follow the advice that follows and reduce your chances of becoming a victim of caravan crime.

When you leave your van

* Use a good quality hitch lock
* Don't leave anything on display
* Lock the corner steadies with a padlock with a short shackle.
* Choose a strong wheel clamp, one that is easy to fit but has a Sold Secure rating.
* Consider an alarm,
* Draw the curtains and use timing switches to turn on lights while your out.
* Consider leaving a radio on as well on so that it both looks and sounds like your caravan is occupied.
* Remove valuables.
* Consider a specialised caravan safe.

For older caravans padlock the gas cylinders to the A frame, keep the gas compartments locked on newer models.
Always lock up before you leave. Even if leaving your caravan for just a short while, make sure you close all doors, windows and any sunroofs. If you have an especially valuable caravan consider fitting a tracking device.
When you leave your van for long periods
* Remove the cushions; it's an expensive task for the thief to replace these.
* Leave the curtains/blinds open so that the thief can see there is nothing to steal.

Try not to leave valuables in your caravan, unless they are well hidden and never leave your CRiS vehicle registration documents inside, as these could help a thief sell your caravan on.

Mark your van

Since August 1992 UK caravan manufacturers have stamped the vehicle identification number (VIN) on the vehicle chassis. This 17-digit number has also been etched into the windows. Check your caravan and if it isn't marked in this way, get it done. Manufacturers who are members of the National Caravan Council (NCC) have since August 1997 fitted electronic tags, these can be read with a special scanner.

Mark your van with the chassis number using a permanent marker under drawers, inside cupboards, under seating areas and make a note of these places. It could help identify your van if it is stolen.
Mark other valuables using a permanent marking system with your house number and postcode. Record serial numbers in a safe place.

Another idea is to mark the roof of your caravan with your postcode to help police identify it from the air if stolen. Although, only do this in a way that can be removed without damaging the caravan in case you ever wish to sell it on. Speak to your local police crime prevention officer or caravan club for more information.

Buying new or used

If buying a new caravan, always ask the dealer whether the model you've ordered has security built in.

For second hand caravans

* Never buy from pub car parks or motorway service stations.
* If meeting the seller at a house check that it is their house (ask to see a utility bill with their name on it).
* Check the CRiS number on windows (if NCC member) hasn't been altered
* Examine the VIN on the vehicle and check this against the CRiS registration document.

Gerry McBride

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