Preventing caravan theft

Kath Heiman — 22 January 2015

When my husband and I bought our Echo 4x4 Kavango camper trailer, we were like a couple of kids in a candy store. Eager to know as much as possible about what I like to call our Escape Pod, we read the accompanying brochures cover to cover.

This is when I first read about micro-dot technology. Apparently our VIN is printed on thousands of micro-dots on the underside of the Kavango inside a clear coating. While I didn’t scramble under the van to check, I’m told I could see them with a microscope if I wanted to.

This sort of kit makes insurance companies happy — and hopefully translates into lower insurance premiums for owners. “That’s pretty impressive,” I thought. But it also left me wondering why, in a country like ours, we should need it. So I went digging around in the statistics.

Theft statistics

Caravan, RV and Accommodation Industry of Australia tells us that, as of 2013, there were 474,000 caravans (including camper trailers) and camper vans registered in Australia — that means 2% of the population owns a rig. The National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council says that in 2012-13 approximately 1200 registered vehicles other than passenger, light commercial and motorbikes were stolen for profit. So, if we were to assume that all of these ‘other’ registered vehicles were caravans and camper vans (which they won’t be), that amounts to around a quarter of a per cent of them in the hands of thieves.

In the big scheme of things, it doesn’t sound like a huge amount of theft. But when we look at the likelihood of having our rig stolen compared to other risks in life, it’s certainly something to think about. Consider this: we’re eight times more likely to have our houses broken into than to have our van nicked; we’re equally likely to be a fatality in a motor vehicle accident; and we’re four times less likely to drown.

We lock our houses every day when we go out, we put on seatbelts every time we drive, and few of us would argue about the importance of water safety. So we certainly need to stay attuned to the risk of theft. Alarmed? No. Alert? Yes.

And with Shield Total Insurance telling us that over 55% of caravan and camper thefts occur at home, this vigilance is warranted both on the road and while our rigs are waiting for our next adventure.

Anti-theft options

Micro-dot technology, as well as GPS tracking devices and immobilisers, have brought our anti-theft options a long way in recent years. Also, for home storage, CCTV security systems are now hitting the mainstream market through retailers like Harvey Norman and Dick Smith. At the more basic end of the range, I’ve got to say that I do love a good wheel clamp. Our Fullstop Nemesis is a clamp of bright-orange beauty which looks like it should be gracing the wheel of a BMW X5 double-parked on Sydney’s George Street.

Ultimately, security boils down to common sense. We talk to our neighbours and agree to keep an eye on each other’s assets — including our parked vehicles and vans. When we’re on the road, we stay mindful about where we park and make simple efforts to enhance deterrence. We use sensor lights around our rig to alert us, and others, to intruders.

CIL Insurance says that there are approximately 80,000 caravans on the road every day — and I reckon there’d be a few thousand camper vans as well. If you’re towing or driving one of them, I hope you’re having a great time. You’re one of the lucky 2% of Australians who — like me — own an Escape Pod.

Check out the full feature in issue #83 December 2014 of Camper Trailer Australia magazine. Subscribe today for all the latest camper trailer news, reviews and travel inspiration.


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Kath Heiman