Caravans are a common sight on our roads, with around 1.5 million Australians taking off in their caravans, campers and motorhomes each year.
At the same time, caravan theft, and theft from caravan parks and campsites, is becoming more common. Around 500–600 caravans are stolen in Australia each year, while police report thieves are stealing unsecured items like fishing rods, eskies full of alcohol, shoes, bikes and even kayaks from caravan parks.
Here are some simple steps you can take to avoid having your caravanning holiday ruined by thieves.
Parking your caravan
- Try to park your caravan where you key keep an eye on it, or put it in a busy location, out in the open, where lots of people are around.
- If possible, don’t reverse into your space. Instead put the hitch away from the normal access point. This means a potential thief would have to turn your car and van (or RV)) around to get away.
- If arriving at night, park your caravan in a well-lit and secure area if you can.
Securing your caravan
- Make it a habit that whenever you unhitch your caravan while travelling, put the hitch lock on straight away.
- Attach a wheel clamp to lock your caravan’s wheels in place. Consider getting one that is made specifically for caravans. You can also thread a high grade steel cable through your wheels and padlock it for extra security.
- Invest in some good quality padlocks and put them on the arms of your awning and your stabiliser legs. It will make it much more inconvenient for a thief to take off with your caravan.
- If you have installed an alarm, activate it ever time you leave your caravan.
Keep your caravan locked
- Go around and double check that all doors, windows and hatches inside your caravan are completely closed and locked every time you leave the van – even if you’re only going to be a way for a short time – and take your keys with you.
- Consider installing motion sensor lights on the outside your van under the front door for when you are parked in the bush or away from a caravan park.
- Don’t hide a spare set of car keys anywhere in or around your car, caravan or RV.
- If you caravan doesn’t have security screen door, consider adding one before your leave.
- Put a sensor light inside your van that turns on automatically when it gets dark, to help make it look like someone’s inside, even when you’re not there. It can also be handy to leave a radio or television on.
Protecting personal property
- Ensure items such as canoes, surfboards and fishing rods are secured to the roof racks of your car or on your caravan with locks. When you’re at your destination, remove them from your vehicle and secure them inside your caravan if you can.
- Make sure bicycles are secured with a heavy-duty cable and padlock or, D-Lock to a fixed object.
- Secure gas cylinders in your caravan’s cylinder bins or on the “A frame” using a heavy-duty keyed padlock.
- If you do leave your vehicle for any reason, be sure to shut and latch all windows, lock all doors and close all curtains, so others can’t see inside.
- If you are travelling with any valuables, make sure they’re not visible in your caravan when you leave it. Remove them or put them away in a locked drawer, cupboard or small safe.
- Be sure to take eskies, shoes, fishing gear, wetsuits, surfboards inside with you when you go to bed at night and remember to lock the door.
- If you’re heading out for the day, make sure you lock eskies, camping chairs, barbecues and outdoor accessories safely away – either put them inside your van, or secure them with heavy duty cables or chains and locks.
Get to know your neighbours
- When you are setting up at the caravan park or campsite, introduce yourself to your neighbours. If they know who owns the van, they’ll be more likely to stop strangers from messing with it.
- Talk to your caravanning neighbours and arrange to keep an eye on each other’s vans. If you see something suspicious, ring the police on Triple Zero (000) immediately.
Safety while travelling
- Before you leave, double check that the coupling is secured to your car and that the safety chains are in good condition and property secured to both the drawbar and car.
- Store the jockey wheel safely, either raised and locked into position or securely packed in the caravan or car boot
- Disconnect all gas, electrical and water connections in your caravan while travelling.
- If you stop for lunch, a toilet break or to refuel, keep your caravan and car locked when you’re away from them, even if you’ll only be gone for a few minutes.
- Don’t leave the engine of your recreational vehicle running if it is unattended.
- Keep all items in the caravan secure while driving. Close the fridge door, ensure all cupboards, windows and doors are sealed and closed and the awning is packed away and locked in.
- Make sure that all pilot lights in your caravan (eg: ovens, water heaters) are extinguished when it is being towed and especially before entering a service station.