Beth Kotz Do Your Research
The first Tuesday in August is a great time to be an RV owner. The date plays host to National Night Out, an annual event that's been strengthening police-community partnerships and fostering neighborhood camaraderie since 1984. National Night Out is a great opportunity to develop a sense of community, build better relationships with police officers and other public servants and further crime prevention. It's also the perfect time to head out in your RV and enjoy the great outdoors.
Unfortunately, camping trailers and RVs are often prime targets for thieves. If you plan to head out this August to take part in National Night Out - or if you're just planning a journey of your own - here's what you need to know to keep your RV and your possessions protected.
There are tens of thousands of campgrounds and RV parks scattered all across the country, but not all of them are created equal. To ensure that you're protected when you stop in for the evening, do some research beforehand to ensure the park or campground you choose is safe. Read reviews from other travelers and pay attention to any negative experiences. For added peace of mind, you may wish to seek out parks that feature security cameras, routine safety patrols and secure access control.
They say there's safety in numbers, and that's certainly true when it comes to camping. Whenever possible, park in well-lit areas in close proximity to other RVs or trailers. Thieves are far more likely to target lone, isolated campers, so sticking together with others is a great deterrent. Bonus points if you can strike up a friendship with some of your neighbors, as they'll tend to be extra vigilant in looking out for you.
Stay Safe by Standing Out
An RV that's ordinary and blends in with the crowd is an easy target for a criminal. The solution? Go bold! A distinctive, custom paint scheme is a sure way to take your RV off the target list, but even something as simple as a couple of highly visible decals may be enough to turn away would-be thieves. However you choose to do it, the goal is to stand out and make your camper or RV immediately recognizable. Replace Your Locks
The bad news for RV owners is that most RVs and campers use the exact same locks and keys, meaning anyone with an RV key could potentially open your locks and access your personal belongings. The good news is that swapping out your locks with better, more secure assemblies is a relatively simple affair. It's the best way to enhance the security of your RV and make it difficult for strangers to enter, and it's a highly recommended step. For a less costly alternative, consider having your existing locks re-keyed.
Stash Your Possessions
Most thefts and burglaries are crimes of opportunity, and there's no better opportunity for a thief than when someone leaves their possessions simply lying in plain sight. To ensure this doesn't happen to you, keep your belongings put away whenever you're not using them. Keep your shades drawn so that no one can wander by and take a peek inside. Consider also investing in a safe to securely store money and any other valuables you bring along.
Turn the Lights On
Visibility is a key asset when it comes to avoiding crime, so one simple way to protect your belongings is to leave your RV lights on at night any time you're away. Thieves typically aren't keen to sneak around well-lit areas, and if they do, they'll be much easier for your neighbors or any on-site security personnel to spot. Alternatively, motion-sensing flood lights accomplish the same goals without requiring you to leave your lights on at all times.
Leave Valuables at Home
Keeping your valuables hidden is a great step, but an even better plan is not to bring them along in the first place. If you are not living in your RV full-time, before you set out for your destination, take a few minutes to carefully consider what you really need to bring with you - and what you don't. While it may be necessary to carry some spare cash, a credit card or traveler's checks are often a better alternative. Most other valuables can safely be left at home.
Verify Your Coverage
Before you hit the road in your RV, it's important to understand what's covered under your insurance policy - and what isn't. Some insurance policies cover theft or loss of personal belongings from inside the vehicle, but others don't. Even if your personal items are covered, take the time to call your agent and verify the amount of compensation you're entitled to in the event of a theft. If your current policy doesn't offer this coverage, consider purchasing a policy that does.Catch It on Camera
Camping out in your RV or camper trailer is supposed to be a fun and relaxing experience, but it's hard to enjoy yourself if you're worried about your belongings being stolen. If you'd like real peace of mind, a security camera system with Wi-Fi capability is a great investment. Internet-enabled security cameras provide both monitoring and deterrence, as well as remote viewing capability for easy access via smartphones and other mobile devices.
There's no reason to fear thieves simply because you're traveling in an RV or camper trailer, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't take steps to protect yourself. Whether you plan to participate in National Night Out or you've got your own adventure in mind, the tips above will help you keep your belongings safe while you're on the road.
Beth Kotz is a freelance finance and tech writer. A graduate of DePaul University, she is currently based out of Chicago, Ill.