Motorhome ownership isn’t cheap. First you invest in the vehicle itself, which could be thousands of pounds. Then you fill it with all the mod cons to make your journeys even more comfortable. Perhaps you’ll adapt it to your own specific needs – and that’s all before you’ve paid any motorhome insurance or campsite fees.
If the thought of having your pride and joy stolen fills you with dread, you’re not alone.
Sadly, these recreational vehicles, and their contents, are becoming increasingly attractive to thieves.
In October 2019, Welsh police issued warnings about a spate of motorhome thefts across North Wales – 30 vehicles, with a combined worth of over £1 million, were stolen in just 16 months.
A sobering thought, and one that should spur you into protecting your home on wheels, if you haven’t done so already.
One of the most important things to remember is that motorhome insurance is just the first step in protecting your vehicle.
It’s up to you to take positive, preventative action to make sure your motorhome can fight off the thieves, even when you’re not there.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common reasons motorhomes fall victim to thieves and what you can do to stop them.
What makes a motorhome theft more likely?
When you’re out and about exploring in your motorhome, it’s easy to get distracted.
You might run to the campsite office, leaving your motorhome unlocked for a moment. Or you might leave some cash or valuables on the table while you take a shower after a long day’s hiking and forget to lock the door.
Or what about at the garage? Do you always lock your motorhome every time you go to pay for fuel?
You never know when thieves might strike, so while you’ll certainly want to relax while you’re on holiday, you’ll also want to stay vigilant and take as many security measures as you can.
An open door is like an open invitation to a thief, and makes for easy pickings. Keep all valuables out of sight, and preferably locked in a safe if you can, to deter any opportunists.
If they think someone is home, they’ll be less likely to try their luck. Leave a radio or a light on when you go out, just to make it look like someone is there.
Also, think carefully about where you choose to stop when you’re travelling around. Some places may look idyllic, like a clearing in the forest, but they might also provide protection for people trying to sneak up on your van.
20 top tips for keeping your motorhome secure
Follow our practical advice and stay one step ahead of motorhome thieves. As with many things in life, prevention is better than cure, so see which of these security measures you can put in place today.
1. Check that all the locks on the doors and windows are working as they should. If they’re looking a little worn, consider replacing them with deadbolts and locks to increase security even further.
2. Lock your motorhome every time you leave it, without exception – even if you’re just stepping away from it for a moment. It takes seconds to lock up, and could save you a lifetime of regret!
3. Make sure your motorhome is fitted with an alarm and an immobiliser. Loud noises will attract immediate attention, deterring thieves, while immobilisers will make the process of stealing your motorhome all but impossible, even if they have managed to bypass the alarm.
4. Invest in a quality steering lock that covers the whole wheel. Not only will this prove to be an effective visual deterrent, it will also slow down any attempt to steal your van. If there’s no chance of a quick getaway, the thief might think twice. Disklok steering locks have been tried and tested by security experts and are widely regarded as a good choice for vehicle protection.
5. Gearbox locks that attach to your handbrake can also act as a good visual deterrent to thieves.
6. Clutch claws are a good visual and physical deterrent. They lock the clutch and the brake pedal in place so there’s no way it can be driven away. The Centinel Clutch Claw, for example, has been independently tested and withstood a break-in attempt for over 30 minutes. Expect to pay at least £100 for a device like this.
7. Clamping one of your motorhome’s wheels might seem extreme, but whatever you can do to dissuade a thief from stealing your investment has to be a good thing. You can pick up decent ones online for under £200.
8. Don’t forget to close and lock your roof lights and hatches when you’re leaving the van for the day.
9. Consider leaving some cupboards or doors open inside the van, so thieves can easily see there’s nothing of value worth taking.
10. When your motorhome is parked on your driveway, think about fitting a pull-up security post that stops it being driven away. Also consider fitting CCTV and security lights at home to stop thieves snooping around. Sentinel and Bulldog have good examples.
11. Keep your motorhome keys in sight at all times. If you’re towing another vehicle with your motorhome, like a Smart car, make sure the keys for that are kept separately. That way you can still drive home if the motorhome is stolen!
12. Don’t forget to lock exterior access doors to storage compartments, either when you’re on site or out and about.
13. Consider the type of valuables you take on holiday with you. Would precious jewellery or mobile devices be better off at home? If you do decide to take them, make sure any contents are covered with adequate motorhome insurance.
14. Write your postcode clearly on any valuable items inside your motorhome with a UV pen. This can help prove they are yours in the event of a theft.
15. Think about putting your motorhome’s registration number on the roof of your vehicle so that police using automatic number plate recognition technology (ANPR) from helicopters can identify it in the event it gets stolen.
16. If you’re putting your motorhome into long-term storage, make sure the storage site has adequate security measures in place like lockable gates, CCTV and 24-hour security patrols.
17. Never leave any paperwork relating to your motorhome inside the vehicle as this will only help thieves sell it on.
18. Grab your camera and take some shots of the motorhome, inside and out. This gives you a record of the contents, as well as the overall condition of the motorhome in case you need to prove anything in the future.
19. Make a note of the serial numbers on any equipment in your motorhome – things like TVs, devices and so on. This may help in their recovery following a theft.
20. Note down any distinguishing features about your particular motorhome. Has it been adapted or changed in any way? Does it sit on an unusual base? Does it have a distinctive interior? Tell the police any of these details as it might help them to track it down.
What is a motorhome tracker and do you need one?
You might have heard about motorhome trackers. But what exactly are they and do you really need one?
Well, the short answer is yes, if you can afford it. These nifty tracking devices tell you exactly where your vehicle is at all times thanks to their GPS pinpointing system.
You can set geo-fence alerts, which mean that you are alerted if your motorhome goes out of, or into, a specified area. And if it does get stolen, the police can track its exact location quickly, aiding a swift recovery.
Some insurers may also be able to offer discounts if you have an approved tracking device fitted to your motorhome – but it’s best to check with them first before you invest in one.
Some tracking devices can even link up with a mobile phone app so you can get useful information about your journey history, how many miles you’ve travelled and so on.
One of the best things about trackers is that they’re usually discreet enough to be hidden somewhere inside your motorhome, and thieves won’t know anything about them until it’s too late.
As the Camping and Caravanning Club points out, most insurers will insist on the trackers being approved by Sold Secure or Thatcham Research.
What should I do if my motorhome is stolen?
If the worst happens and your motorhome does get stolen, tell the relevant authorities as soon as you can.
We understand that it’s a stressful situation and one that you hope you never have to experience.
The first thing to do is call the police on 101. They will likely ask you to confirm a number of things such as your motorhome’s make, model, colour and registration number.
They will also want to know about any distinguishing features and the location of the vehicle when it was taken.
The police will likely give you a crime reference number which you can then pass on to your insurance company.
The police should inform the DVLA about the theft and if the motorhome is found. You can find out more on the Government’s website here.
You could also try posting your vehicle’s details on a website like UK Campsite, which has a list of caravans and motorhomes that have gone missing.
Having the right motorhome insurance in place will give you some peace of mind that you’ll be covered for any financial loss caused by the theft.
How do you know if you’re buying a stolen motorhome?
If you’re in the market for a second-hand motorhome, there are some simple checks you can do to make sure you’re not buying someone else’s stolen property.
Practical Motorhome suggests that you can do one of the following things:
- Carry out a data check to see if the vehicle has been reported stolen. You can do this through the AA, RAC or on the HPI Check website. The latter can tell you if the vehicle has been reported stolen, has been written off or has outstanding finance.
- Double check that the V5 document matches up with the vehicle identification number (VIN). You can usually find this under the bonnet or by the driver’s seat.
- Look for ID marks on the windows like the registration number.
As a responsible buyer, it’s on you to do your research before going to look at the vehicle. Does it appear to be the same vehicle as in the ad? Never buy a motorhome that you haven’t seen in person.
And don’t get caught out by scammers. One common scam is to say that the motorhome for sale is actually abroad or in storage somewhere and the seller needs a deposit up front to retrieve the vehicle in order for you to see it.
Unwitting buyers rarely see this money again, so be savvy, especially when buying online.
As always, it’s important to remember the old saying: if a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is. And that goes for brand new vehicles being advertised at knock-down prices.
Protecting your home on wheels
Our motorhomes are more than just vehicles, they’re a home on wheels.
We often fill them with creature comforts to make our travels more enjoyable – TVs, mobile devices and so on – but unfortunately, this also makes them more attractive to thieves.
Motorhome insurance from Motorhome Protect has been designed to cover not just the vehicle itself but also your personal camping effects, up to the value of £3,000.
We can also offer protection that includes unlimited mileage right across the EU, discounts for club members and even consideration for past convictions.
We can cover motorhomes up to the value of £150,000, and give you up to six months to complete a restoration project.
Protect your pride and joy inside and out with motorhome insurance from the specialists.
Get a quote today.