Protect your caravan and motorhome
The security of your caravan or motorhome is an obvious concern. The industry, along with The Caravan Club, is fighting back with two major schemes aimed at caravanners and motor caravanners.
Are you protecting yours?
Over 3,000 caravans are stolen each year – but The Caravan Club is fighting back with Theftcheck.
Theftcheck is one of the largest computerised caravan registers in the UK, and registration is free for all members.
When you first join The Caravan Club, the unique identifying number of your caravan is logged against your membership record. Should your outfit ever be stolen, this vital information can help the police to trace you as the legal owner (don’t forget to inform us if you change your caravan).
Since its launch in 1988, Theftcheck has been a huge success and has assisted in the recovery of many caravans.
You can also use Theftcheck when buying a used caravan. With a single phone call you can check if the van you’re proposing to buy is listed as stolen on the Theftcheck register.
If you’d like us to run a free check, just call the number below. Before calling, please make sure you have details of the make, model, year and unique identifying number of the caravan, as well as the vendor’s details.
- Registration: 01342 318 813
- Stolen caravan notification/checks: 01342 336 885
ach year around 1400 caravans were stolen in the UK. Very few are ever returned to their original owner, partly because they ‘disappear’ into an illicit network of buyers and sellers, and partly because, when a caravan is found by the police, all identifying marks have been removed – it is not uncommon for thieves to grind out the VIN number from the caravan windows. Many times the police must return the ‘suspect’ caravan to the thieves, simply because they cannot prove it belongs to someone else.
It is not just new caravans that are prime targets for being stolen; in fact caravans that are about two or three years old that are more likely to be stolen. Thefts occur all year round; historically most thefts occur either from home (or other private residences) or commercial storage sites, but occasionally thefts will occur from caravan sites (seasonal pitches or storage areas), dealerships or repairers (whilst awaiting service or repair) or car parks, lay-bys etc.
To avoid becoming another insurance statistic, and to meet most insurers’ conditions of acceptance, certain precautions should be taken.
Many caravan security devices are available on the market, from hitchlocks to steady locks, from alarms to wheelclamps. Prices vary from £30 to over £100, and it is very difficult to decide which would be the most effective. There are also alarms and sophisticated tracking systems available costing hundreds of pounds. This leaflet sets out to make the choice easier.
Only products which envelop the hitch-head and completely cover the securing bolts are considered to meet the highest standard under this category. So called hitchlocks which leave the bolts exposed, and which have no further deterrent, are virtually worthless, as the thief will simply unbolt it and fit one they have brought with them.
A good hitchlock will deter the opportunist thief, and will offer a reasonable degree of protection on site and at roadside halts and motorway service areas, providing you use the type that can lock car and caravan together. (In the interests of safety, it is not recommended that a hitchlock is used which locks the two together when in transit.) However, they are not considered to be sufficient protection when the caravan is in storage or at home, when a professional thief will use a chain or grappling device, making the hitch redundant.
Many different types on the market make choice difficult, but generally look for one which appears robust and has a lock which cannot readily be attacked by hacksaw or drill. Any products with thin radiating arms, or exposed locks, are likely to prove vulnerable. Also bear in mind the thief will happily let down the tyre, even if it causes minor damage to the caravan, so look for a product which will not be defeated by such action.
Launched in 2005, this is a new type category of security product, similar to a wheelclamp, but fitting through the wheel and locking to the brake assembly. A new Sold Secure Diamond Wheel Lock Standard should ensure such products are highly effective. The Al-Ko system is available in three versions – the Al-Ko Secure Compact, suitable for 2006 model year caravans onwards, fitted with lock receiver at the time of manufacture; the Al-Ko Secure Plus, suitable for 2006 model year caravans onwards, without lock receiver fitted, but with pre-punched fixing holes in brake back plate, and the Al-Ko Secure Premium, suitable for 2001-2005 model caravans, without lock receiver and without pre-punched holes in back plate. The Secure Plus and the Secure Premium must be fitted by a dealer.
An equivalent system for Explorer Group caravans with BPW chassis is also available.
Many different types of caravan alarm are available, with prices, sophistication and reliability varying greatly. Issues such as power consumption during periods of storage and ease of disablement are difficult for purchasers to assess. The Sold Secure Standard for caravan alarms addresses these and other important issues.
There is currently one combined alarm and tracking system that meets this standard. However, sadly, no other manufacturer has applied/re-applied for Sold Secure status. Any product found showing the Sold Secure logo may be old stock. If you are looking for a Sold Secure alarm, check the Sold Secure website for the current position.
Tracking systems enable a caravan to be located after it has been stolen, generally using satellite technology, although the earliest systems used radio signals.
There are various types of system available, however:
- Systems designed primarily for motor vehicles. These may not ideally suit use in trailer caravans, since their power consumption may be too high for use during periods of storage.
- Systems designed primarily for caravan use. These tend to be optimised for caravan use, especially in terms of issues like power consumption. The systems detailed in the table on pages 10 and 11 have additionally passed the requirements of the Sold Secure and/or Thatcham standard for such products, confirming their suitability for caravan use, their durability and resistance to attack etc. These are the only systems that we consider to have a proven level of performance.
- ‘Monitored’ systems, where any alarm is alerted to a monitoring centre, who can then contact the owner and/or the police.
- ‘Unmonitored’ systems, which usually alert the owner directly, often by mobile phone text messages.
In all cases, the equipment is relatively expensive, and monitored systems additionally incur a significant annual fee for the monitoring service.
It is important to recognise that the effectiveness of all tracking systems depends on being able to not only locate but also to recover the stolen vehicle. This generally requires police involvement, although it is vital to note that the responsibility for recovering a vehicle actually rests with its owner (or any third party contracted by them), and the police are not obliged to carry out recovery work.
Current police policy does not guarantee a response to a stolen vehicle report via a tracking system.Forces may respond to reports alerted via a legitimate, accredited monitoring centre, but are far less likely to respond to an alert made directly to the owner.
When choosing a tracking system, ask the provider for details of any monitoring centre used, and look for characteristics like the existence of a police-allocated Unique Reference Number and ideally compliance with the Association of Chief Police Officers and Home Officer Guidance to Companies on Police Policy relating to Stolen Vehicle Tracking Systems.
Tracking systems are building a reputation for themselves as being an effective way of recovering stolen caravans. Often recovery is very rapid, and before any significant harm has been done to the caravan. The proliferation of systems, and evolving technology has meant that insurance companies can still be reticent about offering premium discounts when such systems are fitted. If considering a tracking system, do not assume that all insurers will recognise it as justifying a discount.
Data chip systmes
Quite a number of companies offering data chip/electronic tagging technology have come and gone, and our advice has always been to wait until one or more systems becomes widely accepted by the caravan industry. The official asset marking system for the caravan industry is CRiS (see below). Other asset marking systems exist, but only one, (Datatag), has official industry approval through either Sold Secure or Thatcham.
CRIS (Caravan Registration and Identification Scheme)
Since 1992, all touring caravans manufactured by National Caravan Council (NCC) members have been marked on their chassis and on all windows with their unique 17 digit Vehicle Identification Number and these are recorded on the CRiS database. Additionally, all new caravans manufactured by NCC members since August 1997 are electronically tagged during manufacture for added security.
From 1999 this scheme was extended to allow pre-1992 and privately imported caravans to be registered in a similar way. CRiS marking can be further enhanced by using CRiS Xtra Kit (microdot), which links directly to the CRiS number.
Uniquely available to Club members is Silent Tracer, a high-quality security marking system that makes caravans more difficult to steal. It helps combat fraud through ‘cloning’ and ‘ringing’ by giving each caravan its own unique tamper-proof identity using the very latest DNA technology.
For a competitive price Caravan Club members receive a Silent Tracer DIY security kit comprising an electronic glass tag, Selecta DNA, CRiS Microdots and tamper-resistant labels, as well as a UV tracer to install in their caravan.
Current costs for CRiS services are:
- Registration of new caravan – included in purchase price
- Registration of pre – 1992 caravans – standard price £37.12
(£5 Discount for Club members) £32.12
- Update of registration details on change of ownership £12.00
- CRiS Enquire (confirmation of name of registered keeper and if
Caravan is recorded as stolen written off or on finance) £14.95
(£5 discount for members) £9.95
- CRiS Xtra Kit £39.95
- Caravan Club Silent Tracer £69.95
For further details, telephone CRiS on 0203 282 1000 (Monday to Friday 8am to 6.30pm, Saturday 9am to 5pm and Sunday 10am to 5pm), or email [email protected].