For many of us, our vehicles follow only our homes and/or superannuation as our most significant investment. After all, new 4WDs cost more than $40-50k and so too can campers. So it doesn’t take long before a vehicle, trailer and some after-market modifications can start nudging $150k in value.
While the National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council (NMVTRC) tells us that motor vehicle theft in Australia has more than halved in the last five years, we shouldn’t get too complacent. Insurance company Compare the Market released figures in 2013 that suggest nearly 57,000 vehicles are stolen in this country annually. Of these, more than 6200 4WDs were stolen in the 2013/14 financial year, which is a 55 per cent increase from five years ago. Among these, 2005-2011 Toyota HiLux models are top of the hit list.
The estimated costs borne by the Australian community for this pilfering is estimated at over $680 million per annum.
How are you protecting your camper trailer?
While we may be saddened when we read about someone else’s rig being knocked-off, how many of us turn our minds to whether we’re doing enough to protect our own? We probably expect the theft to happen to someone else. Think again.
Almost half of all vehicle thefts occur at a private residence and more than 30 per cent of these happen on Fridays and Saturdays, according to Compare the Market. Nearly a third take place between 8pm and midnight. Looking at similar statistics for campers and caravans, Shield Total Insurance tells us that more than 55 per cent of thefts occur at home.
Regrettably, at least some of these thefts could have been avoided. Across Australia, thieves are increasingly breaking into homes to steal the keys of vehicles thought to be secured. Last year, 70 per cent of stolen late model cars were stolen with the keys. Some offenders are even entering occupied premises through unlocked doors and windows. With your keys in their hands, fancy immobilisers provide no barrier to thieves, unless you’ve hidden a manual switch inside the vehicle.
So, do yourself a favour and take simple measures to avoid opportunistic theft. Keep your vehicles and house locked and don’t leave your keys in clear sight. At least give the thieves a challenge!
Tried and true deterrents
Beyond these obvious common-sense measures, there’s a lot we can all do to easily and cheaply secure our campers.
1. Get to know your neighbours and ask them to keep a lookout for suspicious activity around your assets.
2. Lower the stabilising jacks on your camper when you stop for a long period or when you’re at home.
3. Go ‘old school’ and secure your rig to something that makes it difficult to move. For example, it’s pretty simple to run a chain from the camper’s chassis to a tree.
4. Purpose-built after-market accessories, once expensive and hard to come by, such as wheel locks are now commonplace. Even cheaper options are tow hitch and coupling locks. Better still, use one of each: any measure that makes your rig look hard to move will go a long way to deterring would-be thieves.
At the end of the day, what’s a couple of hundred dollars considering what’s at risk? If your camper goes missing, so does your 12V fridge, not to mention all the other bits and pieces stashed away like chairs, tables, solar panels and so on. And these may not be covered in your insurance.
If you’re willing to spend a little more:
5. Consider installing motion detectors that cover your rig when it’s parked at home. Thieves hate being seen in action so why not place two or more sensor lights with inter-locking beams to protect your rig? If you place the lights looking at each other, thieves who try to disconnect the lights first will be caught in the act by the other one.
6. You can do this with CCTV, too. Once upon a time, this was an expensive option reserved for the rich and famous. They’re now available from Dick Smith and Kmart!
These last two actions will also deter a normal break and enter. So by monitoring your home-away-from-home at home, you may keep your house and your family safe as well.
Check out the full feature in issue #92 September 2015 of Camper Trailer Australia magazine.