"Recent research discovered that just 13 of motorhomes and 6 of campervans have trackers installed, whilst 54 and 45 of these vehicles respectively don't have alarms"
Shaun Carse, Trackershop MD
GPS vehicle tracker specialist Trackershop has claimed that new figures are indicating that top of the range caravans, motorhomes and campervans are now being coveted by criminals as much as high-end luxury cars, due to the overwhelming demand for these types of vehicles in the UK and relative ease of which they can be stolen when not in use.
But inexperienced caravanners aren’t taking the precautions needed to protect their assets – unaware that often, unlike vehicle levels, caravans and campervans are rarely recovered due to identity markings being removed.
Travel restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic have led to an increase in demand for staycations, mobile homes and caravan holidays.
The number of people buying caravans has increased by around a fifth, figures by a leading UK caravan trader reveal; whilst Google Trends data shows that searches for ‘caravans for sale’ are up 200% in the past 12 months, peaking in June when Portugal was removed from the green list for travel.
But this surge in demand for recreational vehicles doesn’t just relate to honest buyers, it is causing a huge spike in vehicle theft according to recent data. In 2020 caravan and motor home thefts increased significantly with more than £1M worth of stolen vehicles recovered by one tracking specialist alone.
The UK’s growing number of caravan and camper van owners are, however, leaving themselves vulnerable to criminals.
In contrast to increased sales and Google search for caravans for sale, the search volume for ‘caravan trackers’ remains static. And whilst tracker sales are rising year on year, according to Trackershop-uk.com, they are not currently matching the levels of new and used caravan and motorhome sales in the UK – suggesting a knowledge gap when it comes to how to properly protect a vehicle.
Shaun Carse, Trackershop Managing Director, explains: “High spec caravans can cost up to £35,000, whilst top of the range motorhomes sell for £80,000+ - making them an attractive booty for thieves. Even budget models around the £10-20,000 price bracket are attractive to criminals because of the huge demand for vehicles and the relative ease of which they can be stolen. Besides the sales value, many owners will keep treasured items on board or may have spent months or even years fitting them out, meaning that you can’t put a price on the emotional value of a vehicle being stolen.
“With this in mind it is concerning that caravan and motorhome owners don’t seem to be carrying out due diligence when it comes to securing their vehicle.
“Recent research discovered that just 13% of motorhomes and 6% of campervans have trackers installed, whilst 54% and 45% of these vehicles respectively don't have alarms.
“Our own data supports these findings. Even though we have noticed a significant increase in motorhome and caravan tracker requests in the past 18 months, we know from the soaring sales figures that there are still recreational vehicles out there that are vulnerable and that are not being adequately protected. This has the potential to make them an extremely easy target for criminal gangs – especially towards the end of summer when the season comes to a close and they are left unattended at holiday parks, in storage facilities or on a driveway.”
What difference does a tracker make?
For one, trackers are often an insurance requirement and a number of insurance companies will insist on an approved tracker, especially on high value models. They can also reduce insurance premiums.
Perhaps the most compelling reason to install a tracker is that vehicles fitted with a device have an 95% recovery rate, compared to those without which are extremely difficult to trace and recover.
Motorhome Trackers provide high level security with 24/7 tracking and instant theft alerts on all tracking devices. Motorhomes are more vulnerable than other types of vehicles, as they can be left unattended for several months at any time. So a tracker will alert owners to potential theft and gain Police support wherever it is.
What type of tracker is best?
In general there are two types of tracker, hard-wired and portable battery operated.
If your insurance company requires your vehicle to have a tracker installed, it is likely that they will insist on a Thatcham approved hard-wired tracker that is fitted into your vehicle’s electrics. This means that there is no need to charge the tracker. Once installed, your vehicle will be monitored 24/7 with geofence, vehicle movement and battery disconnect alerts and nationwide support from all UK police forces.
A hard wired tracker may not be suitable if your caravan does not have a battery to power the tracking device. This is where portable battery-operated trackers are becoming a popular option. Portable trackers can be concealed anywhere on a vehicle making it pretty much impossible for thieves to find. With a battery life that can last up to six months a time these trackers will remain active whilst your vehicle is in storage or not in use. Another benefit is that they come ready to use – straight out of the box – all you need to do is place it inside the vehicle where it can’t be found.
Other ways to keep caravans and motorhomes safe from thieves
With caravans and motorhomes being highly targeted by thieves it’s important to think about other ways that you can keep them safe and deter thieves. CCTV, security lighting, alarms and secure perimeters will all act as deterrent, and can help to reduce insurance premiums. To protect a vehicle left on your driveway, CCTV is extremely easy and cost effective to install and will help increase security.
Wheel locks can work both as a visual deterrent and an anti-theft device. Whilst hitch locks, that cover your lock and hitching mechanism so that no one else can hook up to your unit, will prevent anyone from towing your unit away.
Finally, always ensure that your VIN (vehicle identification number) is etched on each window. Take photographs of your unit, keep a note of your CRIS number – which along with a tracker can help to get a unit back if it’s stolen.