Campervan Security - How to feel Secure in your Van
Feeling secure in your campervan is a big concern for most van lifers and campervan enthusiasts alike. Campervan security therefore has to be a big consideration when converting or performing upgrade work on your van for you to actually enjoy your time travelling.
Indeed, we ended up spending in excess of £1000 beefing up our campervan security for our planned travel all over Europe. See our blog on how much it cost to convert our campervan and the section on security. We wanted to be able to go out on adventures for the day and leave the van secure which would give us more peace of mind and stop us worrying about it. We also know a lot of people worry about not feeling secure in their vans at night if they are wild camping. We have also heard some horror stories about some European aires not being very safe so it's not just wild camping you need to worry about.
The good news is that there is an awful lot you can do to limit the chances of your van being stolen or broken into.
The bad news is there are an awful lot of anti theft devices, alarms, van locks etc to choose from!
Here’s where we can help! We spent A LOT of time researching what were the best campervan security devices out there including endless hours on YouTube! It was an eye opener seeing how quickly some devices could be removed by quick acting thieves considering how expensive some of the devices are.
In this blog we discuss the types of campervan security devices on offer, any advantages or disadvantages of each and what we eventually decided upon.
What Types of Campervan Security Devices are there?
There is a huge variation in cost and effectiveness between all these types of campervan security devices. We have broken them down into 2 categories - anti theft devices and anti burglary devices (some of course will naturally overlap) but it's easier to pick 1 or 2 (or more) from each category to make sure your van is fully secure.
Campervan Anti Theft Devices
These are items which should help prevent somebody from stealing your campervan.
Steering wheel locks
Are a great deterrent for thieves as they are very visible. There are many different types ranging upwards of £30 but the boss of all steering locks has to be the Disklok and it’s what we use.
One of our friends works with young offenders and he once asked a few of them what's the best type of security device for his campervan - they replied and said if they saw a Disklok in a car they would move onto the next. That kind of says it all!
Watch some YouTube movies on how easy it is to saw off other types of wheel locks - A Disklok might seem expensive but it’s worth every penny for your peace of mind.
Wheel clamps essentially do the same thing as a steering wheel lock - prevent the van from being moved. They are also a great visual deterrent and thieves should be put off as soon as they see a van with one on. We opted for the Disklok over a wheel clamp just because wheel clamps can be fiddly to take on and off and we move around a lot! Disklok's take seconds to take on and off and so much more convenient for us.
Gear locks are another way to prevent thieves from driving away your van and are also another visual deterrent. They attach to your handbrake and gear stick with a rigid lock and thus prevent the car from being moved without being taken off.
You can pick these up from a relatively cheap price (£25-£30) but after much research we found the Disklok to have much better reviews and easier to use.
An immobiliser in a campervan is a great way to prevent thieves from being able to start the vehicle to drive it away.
We use a Ghost Immobiliser from Autowatch which uses the buttons in your van to allow you to make a unique code to disable the immobiliser. The ghost immobiliser therefore prevents your van from key cloning or hacking.
Although these are not strictly anti theft devices as such - if you have a sticker on your window saying you have a tracker fitted in the vehicle it is a strong deterrent for thieves looking to steal your van. It also makes it far easier to locate your vehicle if stolen and you can set up alerts to your phone if the vehicle moves and it's not you in it!
There are many kinds of different trackers on the market - you can get very cheap ones which simply allow you to see where your vehicle is at any one time and others that will even cut the engine on the vehicle at the press of the button if it has moved without you knowing!
The Rewire Security tracker has been really good and is very easy to use on your phone or computer. It works using a sim card which you can buy a contract for 12 months or more and you can just renew the contract as and when.
There are several types of alarms for campervans that can be effective:
- Whole vehicle alarms - Which would be triggered if somebody tried to gain entry by force. These are a fantastic deterrent however they are not always the most practical with dogs and you usually can’t use them at night when you are sleeping in the van.
- Window alarms - you can get cheap alarms which attach to the windows. There are motion triggered alarms or magnetic window alarms available which make a very loud noise if the connection is lost or window smashed. The magnetic type are probably the best for a campervan as it may be too easy to trigger a motion triggered one when moving around.
Campervan Anti Burglary Devices
These are the items which should help prevent somebody breaking into your van and stealing your belongings.
There are lots of different types of locks for campervans available and we spent a long time researching what the most effective types are. The most common types of extra locks are:
- Slam locks- These are locks which engage as soon as you shut the doors. These are great because they lock without you having to remember to do them however we were concerned about locking our keys inside having these type of locks.
- Dead locks- These are very much like house door locks with a key. They simply act as an extra key turn lock on your van doors. We opted for these as you could choose when to use them, not risk getting locked out of your van and they looked much nicer than the protruding bulky van locks. We had ours fitted by a local locksmith but you can buy them from somewhere like locks4vans and fit them yourself.
- Van Locks- These are the bolt on type of locks which you see usually on work vans which are on the back doors and side doors. They are an obvious deterrent however we were put off by how easy they were removed on demos on YouTube! Nethertheless they are a good deterrent and cheaper than having slam or deadlocks fitted.
It’s a really good idea to get either a safe or secure box to keep all your valuables in when not in the van. You can get safes that bolt directly into the chassis of the campervan or just a secure box that is padlocked and kept in a place that is not easily accessible.
We opted for a heavy duty tool case which is kept padlocked and behind deadlocked doors. It would take a thief an awfully long time to access it if they attempted and it was far cheaper than a safe that is drilled to the chassis. The chassis type safes can also be a pain to get into depending on where they are installed.
We are not advocating buying a dog purely as a security device for your campervan but if you do have one they make brilliant deterrents! You can leave a dog lead on show or a dog bowl outside your van at night which should make it obvious to thieves not to bother to attempt to break into your van.
DIY Campervan Security
- Stickers - You can put stickers in the windows of your van or on the paintwork even if you don’t have the thing that is on the sticker- it will still be a deterrent! For example- you can get a dog on board sticker even if you don’t have a dog- thieves are much less likely to burgle a van that they think has a barking dog in it. You can also get stickers with tracker or alarm on them which do the same thing.
- Close curtains/blinds - This may seem obvious but thieves can easily look through windows and see if there is anything worth stealing. Get into the habit of shutting them every time you go out.
- Hide valuables - Again, may seem obvious but leave your laptop, wallet, passports etc on show when you go out. If you don’t have a safe then put them somewhere out of sight and ideally not easily accessible.
- Park up in a safe place - You sometimes need to use your intuition on this but if it doesn’t feel right then don’t leave your van there. If there are any signs of broken glass or vehicle debris then it’s probably not safe.
Another little tip: If you have valuables in the back of your van then reverse close to something that it would make it difficult for thieves to open the back doors. This works particularly well in vans with fixed beds where it would take an age for a thief to be able to access anything in the back under the bed.
- Use existing van features - In our sprinter we have the original bulkhead in which in itself acts as a good security feature because it makes it harder to get into the back from the front and vice versa. There is also an original hand rail next to the sliding door which we use a chain on in case anybody tried to force open the side door at night.
Have a good look around your van and see if there is anything existing that you could use.
Have you any campervan security tips of your own? Please contact us here - we would love to hear from you!
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