With RV travel becoming increasingly popular in recent years, learning how to keep your camper safe from theft and harm is becoming more important. RVs are easy targets for thieves and you never know who might be keeping an eye out for unsuspecting RV travelers.
Throughout our camper travels, we’ve heard stories of bicycles being snatched off the RV’s rear hitch, spare tires stolen, and even front windows being smashed to grab a bag laying on the front seat.
So, in this post, we want to go over four ways you can keep your RV safe during your travels. We personally use most of the suggestions below and have never had an incident with our camper.
Be Aware of Where You Park Overnight
The #1 tip to keep an RV safe is to always be vigilant about where you park. This includes both parking during the day and overnight. During our 3+ years on the road, we’ve already met RV travelers who have experienced theft issues that were caused primarily because of where they decided to park their rig.
What To Avoid
We typically avoid three major categories of parking opportunities. This is especially true if we’re visiting major cities.
- Quiet Side Streets – Unfrequented, undisturbed urban side streets that are located just off a major road may seem like a smart place to park (and potentially spend the night), but quiet streets also mean less chance for thieves to be seen and caught.
- Urban Centers – You would never find us parking our RV in the middle of our hometown of Oakland, California. There are just too many strangers and potential opportunities for a break & entry.
- Random Neighborhoods – This is less of an issue with thieves and more of an issue with residents calling the police on an unknown parked vehicle.
Where We Like To Park
- Walmart’s, Truck Stops, etc. – If we’re in an urban area, we like to park where there are other RVs and where ‘our kind’ are welcome by the local businesses. This includes the likes of Walmart, Cracker Barrel, and major truck stop brands, like Pilot and Flying J.
- National Forests – The US is full of National Forests, which allow free dispersed camping almost anywhere within their boundaries. Use the US Forest Service website to locate a National Forest. Sometimes the closest one is only a 30-minute drive from an urban center.
- Paid & Gated Parking Lot – Although not free, paid parking lots that are gated provide a secure way to park (potentially overnight) your vehicle safely.
Keep The Outside Of The RV Clean
Though we’re not big believers in stealth camping, we prefer to keep the outside of our RV as simple and understated as possible.
- Nothing attached to our rear hitch – Stolen bikes that hang off an RV’s rear hitch are a real problem! If you don’t know anyone who has had this problem, then you will soon. Especially as RV culture becomes more popular.
- Keep spare tire under the chassis – We’ve seen some campers that like to hang their spare tire out the back of their vehicle, or even fasten them on their roof. We like to keep our tire in its original intended location, hidden under the chassis.
- No visible cell phone booster – Cell booster antennas aren’t cheap and attract attention. That’s why when parked in public areas, we remove our cell booster to keep our vehicle as unassuming as possible.
Reduce Attention To The Front Cab
When we park in public areas, we ensure that the front cab of our RV is as clean and nondescript as possible. We do three things to ensure that our front cab doesn’t draw attention.
- Keep the cab tidy – Nothing turns heads faster than a cab that is chock full of travel clothes, phone charging cables, and old receipts. That’s why before we leave our RV, we ensure our cab is clean and clutter-free.
- No dash camera – We carry a dash cam with us to record the road while we’re driving, but when we’re parked, we put it away, out of sight, in the glove compartment.
- No spare change – After paying a road toll, I have a tendency to throw the change everywhere on the dashboard, most especially in the cup holders. But we ensure all coins are collected and stored correctly before we leave our RV.
3M Tinted windows
We installed 3M window tint film for all the windows surrounding our front cab, and this film has done wonders in making our RV’s front area more discreet. With the film installed, sneaking peeks through the glass from outside becomes much more difficult.
Tip: If you are going to install window tint to your front windows, make sure you understand what the legal tint percentage is in your home state. Different states have different legal tint amounts.
Like many others out there, we’re always looking out for the next great product to keep our travel rig safe. Below are four of our favorite finds!
- Hasp Locks – Standard vehicle locks can be easily picked. For those serious about keeping their RVs safe, installing additional hasp locks may be the best solution. DIY installation can be tricky though, so hiring a professional is recommended.
- Kryptonite Bike Lock – For those that insist on storing their bicycles outside on the back of their RV, get the best bike lock in the business. This lock resists most heavy-duty bolt cutters and will keep your bike safe from theft.
- GPS Tracker – If you’re worried about your RV getting stolen, installing a GPS tracker may be a good idea and bring peace of mind. Just know that a monthly subscription will be required to keep the GPS tracker working.
- 3M Smash proof film – In addition to our window tint film, we also installed 3M security film on our windows. Although not 100% smash-proof, the film makes it considerably harder for “smash and grab” enthusiasts to get at your belongings.
Thanks for reading! We hope you learned a thing, or two, about how to keep your RV safe while traveling on the road.
Throughout our 3+ years on the road, we’ve never encountered any instance of theft to our RV or to any of our belongings inside. And while some of the products we use have helped to keep our camper safe, the most important thing we’ve done is to be mindful about where we park our RV every day. Even if we have to pay to park our camper for the day, we’ll gladly do so if it means our home is safe.
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