How to protect your motorhome from thefts
WHY MOTORHOMES ARE VULNERABLE
Compared to a normal home these are motorhome’s most vulnerable points as regards theft:
- It is not possible to install on a motorhome alarms linked to the police or a private security service.
- By its very nature a motorhome is not built to provide protection from thieves; it is relatively simple to break in through a window or door or force a lock, and substantial damage is easily inflicted on the vehicle in the attempt to steal due to the thinness of its walls.
- A thief knows that the motorhomeowner is traveling; tomorrow he will be somewhere else and he doesn’t have that much time to spend helping the police with their enquiry.
- When a motorhome-owner has parked, it is natural to place outside the vehicle several pieces of equipment such as the generator, barbecue, chairs, bicycles etc. that can become an easy target for thieves.
- The motorhome owner and his family often have a false sense of security as to the reliability of the locks securing the door, the external compartments, the points of entry.
- The motorhome owner is not familiar with the parking area he is in, therefore could have chosen unawares an area that is particularly prone to theft or vandalism.
HAVE YOU GOT AN INVENTORY LIST OF YOUR MOTORHOME?
The best defence is to know your vehicle perfectly.
-At least every six months make an inventory of your motorhome: this list will be useful for insurance and police in the case of theft. Very valuable goods, like the television or personal computer, should be photographed and these photographs attached to the inventory.
-Make an inventory of the objects inside and of those outside the motorhome.
- Don’t forget the generator, the brand and type of wheels, including the spare one, and the goods on the roof. Keep two copies of the inventory, one with the photos to keep at home and one to keep in the vehicle to which you can add any valuable items bought while traveling.
- Attached to the inventory keep photocopies of your registration document, driving license and personal documents belonging to yourself and those traveling with you.
IDENTIFY YOUR MOTORHOME
To most people, including the police, motorhomes all look the same.
A good way of making it easily recognizable is to stick clearly visible identification numbers on its roof: for example the first four figures of the registration number. In the case of theft it is easier for police to identify it from a helicopter. Take several colour and black and white photos of your motorhome, from different angles; one photo should give a clear view of the registration number. Have the engine serial number printed on the windows of the driver’s cabin: body shops have special pens for indelible marking, a sure deterrent against the theft of the vehicle.
Some insurance companies require the compulsory printing on the windows for high cost motorhomes. It has been demonstrated that markings are a strong deterrent against theft. Be particularly careful when stopping at a petrol station: always remove the key from the ignition.
Police reports demonstrate that many motorhomes have been stolen by thieves just waiting for a vehicle with open doors and the keys in the ignition.
Have your vehicle’s lock changed, especially the most visible one: a big security lock, although in practical terms not really increasing the security of the vehicle, is a psychological deterrent against theft. Fiamma’s Security handle also helps create a psychological and physical deterrent against theft.
Have a well-hidden general switch installed that prevents ignition or stops the fuel flow. These simple switches, in the right position, have over time been shown to be the most efficient anti-theft measure. Use the items in the Safe-kit to protect the driver’s cabin.
HOW A THEFT OCCURS
The police estimate that the average length of a house burglary is less than 7 minutes. A theft in a motorhome is probably even quicker, around 2/3 minutes. A thief, faced with a motorhome, acts more on instinct and definitely prefers to attack a vulnerable vehicle compared to one that looks wellprotected.
This is why the anti-theft plates, you find in this Kit, can be a strong deterrent if well displayed on your motorhome windows.
WHAT DOES A THIEF THINK?
Fundamentally three things:
-Can I easily get inside the motorhome and quickly steal the items?
-Are there any valuable goods that I can easily sell?
-Can I get away without getting caught?
Everything must create a psychological block to these three points.
MOST FREQUENT THEFTS
The generator is the most vulnerable accessory. If possible, secure it permanently to the vehicle. When not in use, keep it out of sight. Mark your generator indelibly so that you can identify it if found. Another tempting article for a thief is a bicycle, especially if new and expensive. Keep them covered with a Bike-Cover, keep them on a Carry-Bike secured with a padlock and tie the saddles with steel wire to the body of the bikes; saddles and wheels are often stolen when not protected.
HOW TO PARK THE MOTORHOME
-Park so that the door and front part of the motorhome are clearly visible to passer-bys.
-Check that the area is well-lit and that there are no signs of empty bottles, syringes and broken glass.
-Go for a quick inspection tour. What type of protection do the nearby gates and fences have? If there are big signs about alarms and guard-dogs, maybe there is a reason.
-Park near other motorhomes with your door well in sight of the next motorhome. -When you leave your vehicle, close all the curtains so that no one can see what there is to steal inside.
-A thief will try to enter on the side that most hidden; that is your motorhome’s most vulnerable point.
-Keep away from trees or bushes that could serve as convenient hiding places. if you prefer an isolated position, you can always make use of an old boy-scout trick: “as a safety measure, scatter dry leaves around the vehicle. The sound of the leaves crackling underfoot will not only attract your attention, it will also discourage any potential thief.”
-Put the most expensive items on the roof. If a thief has to get onto the roof and break into the luggage holder, the risks of his being seen, and therefore recognized and caught, will increase.
WHERE TO HIDE VALUABLE ITEMS
A motorhome must have somewhere to hide valuable items. It should be difficult for a thief to discover but at the same time not time-consuming to open. This place can be inside the vehicle: for example behind or under the refrigerator or the cooker. Avoid using more obvious places like a hole in the floor covered by a carpet or a hole in the wall covered by a picture. Better places could be in the cupboards behind clothes with a double wall, fake walls, fake cupboards, fake ceilings. A joiner can make you a hole that is difficult to discover. If you decide to install a small safe, secure it to the body of the vehicle and choose a fireproof model.
WHO TO CONTACT IN AN EMERGENCY
Before starting a journey in a new country, make two copies of a list with police, ambulance, emergency and consulate telephone numbers (remember to keep photocopies of all your personal documents).
By law, in many countries, it is your duty to help in the case of an accident and report a crime if you are a witness. The best thing to do during a report is to take note of the points, which must include: who, what, when, why, where and how.
In the case of further enquiries, written notes will save time and avoid uncertainties.
Give your name, exact location and telephone number. Also give information on where you are going and where and how you can be contacted in the future.