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Preventing Break-Ins: Essential Steps to Safeguard Your RV

Published on November 27th, 2023 by Lynne Fedorick

A shattered vehicle window as the result of a break-in
RV break-ins are awful. Photo credit: Shutterstock

RV Break-Ins Are A Nightmare: Here’s How To Prevent Them

Coming back to your RV to find a smashed window or broken RV door lock is right up there among the worst things that can happen when we’re out in our RV. Thieves are often ruthless. They’ll turn the interior of your RV upside down in their efforts to find anything they can easily turn into a quick buck. Fortunately, RVers aren’t helpless against break-ins. There’s a lot we can do to make our RVs less attractive to thieves, and to keep them out if they try to break in in spite of our best efforts to dissuade them.

Perhaps surprisingly, RV break-ins and thefts are statistically more common in small cities than in larger ones. But then, you’re more likely to be robbed at gunpoint in a large city than in a small city. Either way, RVers need to be vigilant in both small and large cities. We researched and found out the best ways to prevent RV break-ins. In this article, you’ll find everything you need to know about what you can do to defend your RV from thieves.

Always Lock up Your RV When you Go Out

Many thefts are crimes of opportunity. For RVers this means that if you lock all the doors and windows on your RV before you go out, you reduce the chance your RV will be broken into. It’s also really important to use multiple anti-theft devices on your RV if you want it to stay put while you are away from it.

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Deter Break-Ins with Multiple RV Antitheft Devices

Statistically, RVs are popular targets for thieves. RV thefts account for 12% of all motor vehicle thefts. Thieves especially love taking people’s trailers and Class A motorhomes. Putting a hitch lock on your travel trailer will reduce its chances of being taken by thieves. However, using a good hitch lock, 2 wheel-chock locks, and a coupler lock will make your trailer a lot of work to steal. Thieves like fast and easy targets.

You can make your motorhome less vulnerable to thieves by using 2 wheel-chock locks, placing on a front wheel, and one on a back wheel. Motorhomes can be made more secure while a steering wheel lock, an immobilizer, a motion detecting alarm system, and a GPS tracking device. A security camera is a nice upgrade to your RV’s security system but does very little to prevent break-ins or theft because many thieves don’t care if they are identified.

Upgrade RV Door Locks

RV door locks are notoriously insecure. That’s because the lock RV manufacturers install usually has a master key to make it easy for RV dealers to access multiple units with a single key. This means anyone with a master key can access your RV. Luckily, installing a new RV door lock with a unique key is a simple upgrade that anyone can easily do. Even better, you can get a door lock with a touchpad, so you won’t need a key at all. Changing your RV door locks will greatly reduce the chances of a break-in.

Use Window Coverings to Prevent Break-Ins

RVs usually come with daytime blinds that allow filtered light in while keeping prying eyes out. Keeping your RV window blinds closed at all times does two things: First, you prevent would-be thieves from looking in your RV to decide if it’s worth their time to break into it. Second, if you keep your RV window blinds closed all the time, it makes it really difficult for a thief to tell whether or not you’re home.

Leave a TV or Radio On

If you go out to run errands or sight-see, leave the TV or radio on in your RV with the window coverings closed. If you’re headed out for the evening, be sure to leave a light on too. This little trick can make a thief wonder if you might be home or not. Thieves don’t want to draw attention to themselves and will probably avoid your RV instead of taking the risk of disturbing its occupants.

A hitch-mounted bike storage container used to avoid break-ins
Store your bikes out of sight in a hitch-mounted storage box. Photo from Ecarrier Shelving

Keep Valuables out of Sight to Avoid Break-ins

Avoid making your RV a target for a break-in by storing valuables out of sight. It’s probably obvious that leaving electronics out in view is an invitation to thieves. But you might not think about keeping sports gear like high-end bikes and e-bikes out of view. However, nothing screams “there might be more valuables inside” like an expensive e-bike stored outside with a cheap lock. A hitch-mounted bike storage container offers discrete and secure bike storage. However, even a bike cover can help to keep bikes out of sight and concealed.

Protect Your Rig with a Motion-Detecting System

Security cameras can provide the police with evidence after you’ve endured a break-in. However, it’s even better to avoid a break-in altogether by installing a motion-detecting security system in your RV. There are now RV security systems that will immediately an alert to both you and local police in the event of activity in your RV. The Tattletale RV Security System is one of these. This particular security system can be set up to recognize your pet, so you don’t get false alarms.

Research Campground Reviews Before You Stay

If a campground has a high incidence of RV break-ins or sketchy activities, you’ll likely read about it in their online reviews. RV LIFE Campgrounds offers unbiased, honest campground reviews from real RVers who have stayed at campgrounds.

Make Friends with your Neighbors

Friendly camping neighbors can often look out for one another if their’s suspicious activity while someone’s away from camp. You should be doing this anyway! RVing is about community.

Never Leave Valuables in Your RV During Storage

Supposedly secure RV storage yards are a favorite target for thieves. They like having the ability to sneak around, going about their nefarious business undetected. Many RV break-ins occur in gated, fenced, and monitored RV storage facilities. Indoor storage facilities are a favorite of thieves. That’s because once they get in, no one can see them. That means they can break into an RV and casually steal anything with any value, no questions asked.

It makes sense not to leave anything of value in your RV when you store it. This may mean removing the batteries, using multiple anti-theft devices, and extending slideouts. The goal is to make it harder for thieves to steal the entire vehicle.

Avoid Advertising Your Lifestyle

Thieves like to target any RV that can give them a good return for the risk they take breaking into it. For example, thieves usually know that full-time RVers have lots of electronics and other valuable items with them. Advertising you’re a full-timer by putting decals that say things like “Home Is Where We Park It” on the outside of your rig will attract thieves. Similarly, if you tell the world your RV is powered by solar, thieves will know you have solar panels and possibly some lithium batteries too.

Watch this video for more great ways to protect your RV from break-ins.

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