Thanks to quarantine requirements for holidaymakers returning from some of the most popular Brit Abroad destinations, the popularity of staycations has skyrocketed – as has the incentive for criminals to steal caravans, to meet demand in a burgeoning market.
Even before international travel restrictions were implemented, caravan and motorhome thefts were on the rise. Then, with campers’ getaway plans on hold for the foreseeable future, caravans were left unattended for far longer than usual, giving criminals an easy opportunity to get their hands on some valuable stock. With the leisure vehicle market lucrative both here in the UK and across Europe, it is not surprising that criminals will use any method to steal even top-of-the-range caravans.
Housing a caravan in a secure site and using additional physical security measures is often enough to deter criminals. However, a recent Tracker recovery of a £20,000 Sterling caravan, showed professional criminals are adept at quickly cutting through physical barriers and security devices and disabling sophisticated alarm systems.
Nothing Will Stop A Caravan Thief
On the night of 9th May 2020, thieves broke into a secure seasonal caravan site in Oxford and stole four caravans, including a £20,000 Sterling Caravan. The owners of the four-year-old Sterling had recently moved the caravan to a new site which was surrounded by six-foot-deep hedges as well as a perimeter fence. Although the owners believed the site to be fully secure, they prudently fitted their caravan with a diamond wheel lock, a hitch lock and an alarm for extra security.
The experienced thieves, however, broke through the fence and substantial hedge, then proceeded to cut through and disarm each of the security measures, believing they had outwitted the owners. Little did they know that the caravan had also been fitted with a tracking device. Once Tracker was alerted and the device activated, the caravan was very quickly recovered by the Police in South Wales, assisted by the National Police Air Service (NPAS).
In cases such as this, a tracking device provides the best chance of a vehicle being located and returned to its rightful owner before the criminals have a chance to sell it on. However, buyer beware – not all tracking devices are created equal.
Tracker’s Unique Relationship with the UK Police Force
In another recovery, Tracker worked with the police to recover a stolen caravan, alongside five other stolen caravans and two valuable trailers estimated to be worth in excess of £150,000. As the vehicles were stolen from across a wide area covering Derbyshire, Staffordshire, Cheshire, Leicestershire and the Thames Valley, it involved a multi-force investigation into the thefts. Tracker was instrumental in helping police find the stolen caravans and reuniting them with their owners, demonstrating the strength of the relationship between Tracker and the UK’s police forces.
Why VHF Is A Secret Weapon Against Caravan Theft
Most vehicle trackers use GPS technology, but thieves can jam the GPS signal, leaving the device useless for locating a stolen caravan. In contrast, VHF (Very High Frequency) is the superior tracking technology when it comes to combating caravan theft.
Tracker implements this unique VHF location technology in all its devices to address the problem of signal jamming that can affect GPS only systems. VHF technology also aids the location of concealed vehicles and is effective at finding them even if they are hidden in shipping containers, lock-ups or underground car parks, where GPS-only tracking can struggle or fail.
Any vehicle fitted with a Tracker also benefits from the Tracker Mesh Network. This patented network technology enables an activated device (as a result of theft) to be silently located by using other passing vehicles fitted with a Tracker device, helping police quickly trace and recover more vehicles than ever.
Whether staycationers are seasoned campers or first-timers, they must make sure they protect their caravan against the growing risk of theft. Physical barriers and a Tracker are the best protection as they deter thieves but also provide protection in the event that a caravan is indeed stolen.
KEEPING YOUR CARAVAN PROTECTED
Secure the environment – If possible, park the caravan inside an alarmed building away from prying eyes of caravan thieves. If choosing a storage site, check to see if it offers good security. If the caravan is parked on your drive, fit substantial gates or a security post to your driveway and metal security posts cemented into the ground in front of the caravan.
Security Devices – Fit an alarm system including a tilt or vibration sensor to detect it being towed away, some will alert the owner via a mobile phone. A Tracker unit should be installed to locate the exact position of the caravan should it be stolen.
Security Marking – Security mark the caravan, add roof identification of large letters or numbers to assist air support to track the caravan, mark valuables and interior items with a special etching tool or engraver, not just a security marker pen which can fade.
Use Physical Security Devices – Fit physical deterrents such as hitch locks, wheel clamps and deadlocks on doors to make it difficult for thieves.
- Remove all valuables and registration documents from the caravan.
- Close and lock doors and windows whenever you leave your caravan.
- Fit a time switch if you’re out after dark. Lights on in your caravan will make it look occupied and can deter opportunist thieves.
- Photographs of the interior and of identifying marks may be useful for later identification.
Clive Wain, Head of Police Liasion for Tracker Network UK Ltd, shares how owners can protect their ‘vans, and help police recover them if criminals get past all the defences.
Clive spent 22 years working within South Yorkshire Police in various roles including Detective Chief Inspector, before transferring to West Yorkshire Police and becoming Detective Superintendent. Clive also acted as Crime Manager in Sheffield, where he managed and significantly reduced serious acquisitive crime, including burglary, robbery and vehicle crime. Throughout his career, he has led covert investigation teams tackling serious and organised crime.
Clive ultimately became Detective Chief Superintendent, Regional Commander for Organised Criminality for Yorkshire and Humberside, where he developed and drove covert investigative teams in collaboration with other law enforcement agencies. At this rank, he also headed up the internal professional standards department and force information management unit, later becoming the Head of Counter Terrorism Policing for the seven counties making up the North East of England Region.