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May 2012


W D SECURITY SPECIAL IG e are n IT ow Download a digital AL version of Caravan Magazine !

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May 2012

Visit or for more information visit SUPPORTED BY


Caravan Security Hello

The following policy discounts apply: AL-KO wheel clamp – 25%

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At Towergate Insurance, we’re delighted to support this Security Special feature. We’re keen caravan enthusiasts as well as insurance providers, and we’re passionate about caravan security. We encourage everyone to install security equipment – after all, it can make the difference between an opportunistic thief chancing his or her luck or simply walking by, put off by a job that will prove too difficult. And because security is an effective theft deterrent, we will reward you for endeavouring to keep your prized possession safe. With additional security, you’re less likely to be targeted and it keeps your insurance premiums down. Whilst we’re here to pick up the pieces, should an incident occur, we’d rather you didn’t have to go through the trauma and stress of a loss in the first place.

Proactive tracker or Thiefbeater (security markings) – 25% Non-active tracker – 10%*

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Factory-fitted alarm – 10% Anti-snake stabiliser – 10% CaSSOA storage – 25% (four+ months per year) or CaSSOA storage – 10% (less than four months per year

Discounts shown are based on Select and Economy products (not available online). *Not available with a factory-fitted alarm discount.

Edward Cross Underwriting Director Towergate Insurance (Leisure)

How safe is your caravan? Watch out – there’s a thief about: Caravan tells you how to recognise the threats and what you can do to avoid becoming a statistic


hink about it: most caravans are designed to be as light as possible, using construction methods that contradict the most basic security requirements. Your home is probably protected by a solid, heavy door, almost certainly made from either solid wood or tough UPVC, then additionally secured with concealed hinges, bolts and deadlocks. A caravan is constructed from wafer-thin aluminium or ABS panels, with windows and their latches made from brittle plastic. Potential points of entry are numerous. Remember that a thief is totally unconcerned about causing thousands of pounds worth of damage in order to steal an iPod or laptop. So who are these people who might set their sights on your caravan and how can you deal with them?

May 2012



SECURITY SPECIAL Know your enemy

The drug addict

The opportunist

This thief needs ready cash and he needs it quickly. He prowls a neighbourhood, looking for open doors (houses or sheds) and open windows of houses, cars or caravans. He’s on the lookout for handbags, wallets and anything that he can fit in his pocket or under his coat. He prefers not to be seen, but will risk it if there’s a clear escape route. Anything he steals will be exchanged for drugs or sold in the pub for a fraction of what it’s worth. He isn’t very skilled, so will often cause hundreds of pounds worth of damage for the sake of twenty pounds, cash-in-hand. He’ll even nip into your caravan when your back’s turned as you load it for a trip away. He’s so desperate he’ll take big risks.

This type of thief is far more likely to work with an accomplice, either as a lookout or a driver. He probably began by breaking into cars, but now finds caravans much easier. He is will be pretty clued up about a caravan’s weak points and also the security devices. He will ‘recce’ the area with a partner, noting likely targets, as well as obstacles such as overlooking windows and CCTV cameras. Stealing the actual caravan is rarely the objective, but this versatile thief will go equipped to remove any valuable contents and fittings, including awnings, televisions, gas bottles, etc. This thief is much more calculated than the drug addict and isn’t likely to take as many risks.

(Scumbaggum addictes)


(Slyus bastardo)

May 2012


Know how

Crime in the news Newspaper clippings highlight the prevalence of caravan crime agh, 31, and rs John McDon agh, 29, le el av tr h is Ir A gang of tin McDon . responsi- Mar rested in 2007 believed to be e ain’s wer ar it Br all of , lf en ha m ble for The four d ile ja e e er m w sa ts e ef s of th caravan th ilty member gu , d ily un m fo fa ng h s Iris after bei mil- notoriou £1 h ly it ar w ne g d fo u n of stealin w er e roperty. of stolen cara 00 lion worth of p ,0 efts £970 th , n es va m ra ho ca or l , mot Annua to vans, cars 8 84 d an om fr a in ed ch plummet sh, jewels, rlie Ward, ca 454 after Cha tal. ard, 21, crys 27, Mar tin W

Seven carava ns have been stolen overnight from a busi ness in Lincoln. Police belie ve a single towin g vehicle was used, so the thie ves, who cut a fence and steel posts in ord er to gain access, mu st have made severa l trips. Officers sa id they were still compiling details of th e stolen caravans but three are described a s being d is ti n c ti v e 2010 models.

pealing Police are ap after n io for informat rglaries a spate of bu e near sit at a caravan Longhorsley. end of Between the March d an ry Februa e into ok br 13, thieves stole d an ns va ra 13 ca levite g in items includ DVD d an CD sions, es conplayers, gam s and ic et sm co soles, aftershave. at the It is believed th ed us ve ha thieves may der to or in e cl hi a ve e stolen transpor t th lice are po d an s item who ne yo urging an anyen se ve ha may the in us io ic thing susp nco to area recently tact them. 6

The Caravan Bermuda

The pro

(Cerebella minimalis) In a different league altogether – their aim is to take the entire caravan, often stealing specific models to order. Using 4x4s, gangs have been known to rip security posts out of the ground or by-pass the hitch altogether using a chain connected to the A-frame. Large, expensive twin-axle caravans are most targeted and can be out of the country in hours. Gangs are fearless and will tackle storage sites and dealerships, sometimes using heavy machinery to do so. With no DVLA registration and no number plates, these new caravans can be sold on within the organised-crime community. Stolen vans may be lived in for a few years and then sold back to the unsuspecting public via Autotrader or eBay.


“Increasingly, disappe arances are down to organised caravan the ft rackets with specific , high-value caravans tha t will fetch a good price being targeted.” “The triangle of trouble is drawn along the popular motorway ne twork of the M6, M42 and M1 which provide quick getaway routes for thieves”. Simon Douglas, AA Insurance

May 2012



SECURITY SPECIAL What they target Entire caravans

German caravans, especially the large twinaxle models, have always been those thought to be most at risk. Due to the Euro exchange rates, very few have been imported in recent years, making top-of-the-range British caravans the new main targets. Don’t think that older caravans aren’t still at risk though, as older Abbey and ABI models can be found on stolen caravan databases. If you present it to them on a plate they will probably steal it. As the owner of a 1980s Abbey Piper remarked: “The police said it will most likely be found in a lay-by up north with the wheels missing, hob and oven missing, plus all the internal lights stripped out.”


Thieves will sometimes steal caravans solely for their parts, but the rewards are often quite low for the risks involved. Televisions and satellite equipment are always worth stealing, but the re-sale value of most appliances is quite low and they are bulky to transport and store.


Consider the retail prices of the following:


Spinflo Caprice oven and grill £550 Spinflo sink and grill combo £250 Thetford 80 litre fridge £560 Thetford 150 litre fridge-freezer £1175 Trumatic S3002 Gas Heater (with front panel) £270 to £320 Avtex dual voltage FST – around £300

The latest cassette toilets are worth over £450, but thieves seem to ignore those for some reason. Microwave ovens are now hardly worth the effort.

r u o y t n I wa ! n a v a r a c


You might think that it is rather stupid to go to the trouble of stealing somebody’s old caravan and then simply stripping it for a few low-value spares. The trouble is that some thieves really aren’t all that bright and are quite prepared to do just that, causing damage to your property and inconvenience in the process. Hook-up cables which supply caravans with mains electricity have been cut by thieves during late nights raids on campsites along the Dorset coast. Police believe the cables are being stripped and the copper wire being sold for scrap. Mike Cooper, of the Camping and Caravanning Club, said: “If the cable costs £17 new, the scrap value won’t be much. If they’re burning it to get to the copper, that’s a lot of work for nothing.” 104

Professional thieves will have a waiting market for certain spares, with the following being most sought-after: • Alloy wheels – retail at anything from £100 to £180. • Gaslow cylinders and fittings – A 6kg Gaslow cylinder costs £129.50 and many of the connectors, regulators, adaptors, gauges and hoses are highly saleable. • Awnings – Leading accessory retailers sell reconditioned awnings at anything from £200 to £500, depending on the make – so a nearly new, good quality stolen awning could be sold for

May 2012

a similar price on auction sites like eBay, or via free classified adverts, arousing very little suspicion. It would also be very difficult to trace.

Personal effects

Money, jewellery, bicycles, golf clubs, phones or computers. You leave them in your van or car unguarded, they’ll take it, increasing your next insurance premium if you claim.


Know how

What’s Sold Secure?

CaSSOA Gold-rated storage sites For many farmers, caravan storage has become their best cash crop. Choose carefully though, as far too many have minimal security precautions. The Caravan Storage Site Owners’ Association (CaSSOA) provides a network of secure sites, awarded Gold, Silver or Bronze rankings according to their levels of security. Sites are individually assessed, then meticulously checked and monitored, so that leaving your van on a Gold-rated site will also almost certainly result in a significant insurance saving. Find your nearest approved site at

Sold Secure is an organisation dedicated to reducing the risk of crime by the assessment of security products. Established in 1992 by Northumbria and Essex Police with the help and backing of the Home Office. Sold Secure is now owned and administered by the Master Locksmiths Association (a not-for-profit trade association) and works from purpose-built laboratories just outside Daventry. Products are tested by an expert team of highly motivated professional locksmiths. The processes constantly evolve to keep up with modern theft methods. Sold Secure Approval is classified into three main categories: Bronze, Silver & Gold (with an additional Diamond level for certain caravan security products). The categories reflect the amount of time per test and the tools that are necessary to ‘crack’ the product. The higher the grading, the higher the security provided by the product.

May 2012



SECURITY SPECIAL Interview with a caravan thief If you want to know how to deter the people who have their eyes on your caravan, who better to learn from someone who was a caravan thief? CARAVAN Can you tell our readers about how you singled out a caravan to break into and how easy it was to do it? LEE In the area where I lived, petty thieving wasn’t all that unusual, although sometimes it was just vandalism for the sheer hell of it. I lived on a housing estate; not one of those family-from-hell type of places like you see on the telly, but depressing enough to make you want to take risks to add a bit of excitement. There was a big block of flats, but there were plenty of semi-detached houses as well. Some of them had front lawns and you would even see caravans on

driveways, although not as many as you found further out. Some of the pubs were a bit rough though and you could buy all kinds of cheap stuff if you knew the right people. Some of the kids used to break into cars, sometimes stealing them just for fun, but I didn’t have a job and I needed money, so when I first started, I went out looking for anything that I could get a few quid for. I drew the line at breaking into houses, but garden sheds were fair game and of course caravans could be even easier. It’s easy to pick your targets. If the house looks well-kept with nice furnishings and there’s a decent car outside, there’s a good chance there’ll be some decent kit in the caravan.

CARAVAN So did you plan these caravan break-ins in any way and if so, what was it that you looked out for? LEE I always noted the caravans that were parked up where people couldn’t directly see you from the bedroom windows. If two caravans are parked almost side by side on neighbouring driveways, then that’s worth checking out, because you might be able to get in between them without being seen from either side and kill two birds with one stone. Unless you don’t mind travelling all over the area, caravan jobs aren’t something you want to do every week; people soon get wind of it and stop being so careless. It’s best to time it for when it’s going to be worth it, such as the beginning of school holidays and just before Christmas. It’s always worth having a walk-about before the Easter and Summer holidays, because that’s when people start loading their vans up, ready to go away. I’ve even seen people loading up and then leave the caravan door open while they go back into the house. Never worth the risk to me, but there are plenty of people who would grab almost anything and run off. Christmas is always a good time, because you would be amazed how many people think that the caravan is a good place to hide the presents from the kids.

CARAVAN How difficult is it to break into a caravan? LEE Well, we’re talking a few years ago now, so I’m sure it’s got a bit harder since then, but getting into most of them couldn’t have been easier. You hardly had to break in at all, because you could get past some of them by simply sticking a knife or screwdriver into the keyhole. If you know how to do it, a few whacks on a screwdriver in the right place would do quite a few of them and it meant people often wouldn’t know anybody had opened it until they tried to close it again. If that didn’t work for some reason, I had a special tool that’s used by car windscreen fitters. You could do most of the doors and windows with that. CARAVAN Weren’t you worried about setting off alarms? LEE Few of them seemed to have alarms to be honest, or at least ones that worked. They tended to have window stickers rather than alarms. If one looked as if it might,

Double wheel clamps may stop someone driving off with your pride and joy, but they won’t stop the likes of Lee getting inside

“Lee” is in his late 20s and has been working for the same company in the building trade for over five years. Lee’s past is known to his employer, but very few people in his current life know about what he used to get up to. A former gambling addict, Lee once received a six-month prison sentence, when he was convicted for handling stolen goods; a relatively light sentence following on from two years of domestic break-ins that included garden sheds, cars and caravans. (Photos posed by a model) 106

May 2012


Know how

Stop ’em

Maximum security may be the only way to stop a determined thief

I used to put a screwdriver through one of the tail-lights and then short it out and blow the fuses. If they had back-up batteries, they’d probably be run down by winter time. There was only a couple of times when I had to get out quick because of an alarm and one of those was when somebody had screwed in one of those DIY contact alarms that people used to put on their front doors. I could easily have smashed it, but it made such a hell of a noise that wasn’t going to hang about. You often can’t easily see into a caravan anyway, but if the curtains are drawn, you do wonder if there’s something valuable inside. The biggest fright I had was when I broke into a caravan in a garden and woke up somebody who was sleeping in it! We scared the living crap out of each other! CARAVAN Is it true that the windows are the caravan’s biggest weak point? LEE In theory, but it depends on the situation. The door is the best way to get in and out, but some of the newest caravans, especially the foreign ones, have much better locks. If you’ve got a bit more time, then windows are quite easy, but it’s a bit obvious. A crowbar will get you in in seconds, but I didn’t want to go walking around tooled up like that. All I used to carry were a few small tools and a large, fold-up sports bag to put anything in that I’d taken. I used to wear a university scarf when walking through the streets, so that I simply looked like a student going home for a few days.

some pretty handy people round our estate who wouldn’t think twice about dishing out some punishment. So what would put me off? No clear escape route – you don’t want to fight to get away. Out in the open’s just as bad though – because you never know who’s watching you. Alarms? I think people turn them off most of the time, ’cause they go off for no reason in the middle of the night and wake the neighbours. Or they take the batteries out in winter. Either way, they rarely seemed to work. I’d bust the door open and if nothing happened I was laughing. Mind you, barking dogs were a right pain – better than an alarm. Neighbourhood watch? Don’t make me laugh - but I remember being put off by a sticker from a local Shooting Club. I never messed with caravan covers. You can’t be seen once you’re inside, but it feels too risky – only one escape route. A mate of mine got caught like that once; he couldn’t open the windows to get out and every time he tried to bust out the door he got whacked. The neighbours had him trapped for 20 minutes, before the police arrived, which was lucky for him, ’cause I reckon they were ready to lynch him. CARAVAN How did you eventually get caught? LEE It was purely by chance. I was stopped on the street by a patrol car in the early hours of the morning. By sheer luck I hadn’t taken anything at that time, but they found some of the tools on me and got a warrant to search my flat. They found several items but couldn’t prove that I’d actually stolen them, but they did go ahead and charge me with handling stolen goods.

Different security devices are more appropriate in different situations. We list the main types and suggest when you need to use them Wheel clamps

Sold Secure Gold or Diamond Standard wheel clamps are effective against all but the most determined thieves. The extra-heavyweight, Home Office-approved clamps are double the price and too heavy for touring.

Security posts and ground anchors Security posts have been known to be ripped out, but these two items together can be extremely effective, especially if the anchor point is in a position that makes if difficult to attack.

Hitch locks

A good first line of defence, especially when combined with a jockey wheel lock. Useful if leaving the outfit for a short time is unavoidable, but must be removed before driving off.


Deadlocks won’t prevent entry via the window, but make it harder for the thief to get out as well as in. Useful on campsites, where a thief would be quickly noticed. Harrison deadlocks is a widely recommended supplier and fitter.

Caravan security box

If you really must leave valuables inside a caravan, a properly installed security box is essential. Ex-army ammunition boxes are popular, but merely act as carrying cases unless expertly fitted.


This is a coded letter and number combination that is applied to the roof of your caravan and can be seen by police helicopters and high-level security cameras. Only a £30 one-off payment is required and the vinyl characters are very difficult to remove. Useful for recovery only.

Secure storage

Use a site that has been awarded Gold status by the Caravan Storage Site Owners’ Association (CaSSoA). Thefts are not unknown but are rare.

Tracking devices

CARAVAN What are the biggest deterrents?

Caravan dealers regard this as the greatest deterrent, but opinion is divided over whether or not you should advertise that they are fitted. Many new caravans have them as standard fittings anyway.

LEE No thief wants to get caught, so we’d always choose an easy target – only the junkies take stupid risks. There were


Definitely a deterrent but is usually only useful after the event. Needs to be left on during the day time, to pick up anyone seen “casing the joint”.

Winter wheels – a little inconvenient, but excellent deterrents to caravan thieves

May 2012



SECURITY SPECIAL Caravan security weaknesses 1 GAS LOCKER With the growing popularity of re-fillable Gaslow bottles and auto-changeover devices, thieves are now far more likely to target these. Many new vans have extra storage at the front, making these even more of a temptation.

2 JOCKEY WHEEL Thieves using chains try to remove it, as the caravan sits lower at the front. A jockey wheel locked into the down position is a considerable hindrance to this method of caravan theft.




Can be by-passed with chains, or the entire hitch and its covers can simply be lowered into a drop-box.

Aids security by enabling you to manoeuvre the caravan into a secure position that would be difficult to achieve manually. No major incidences of mover theft. Yet!

3 2 5 DOORS Always vulnerable to a crowbar attack, but a deadlocked door is more difficult to exit if entry has been made through a caravan’s window.


AL-KO Secure Caravan Wheel Lock W Tried and tested wheel locks, as fitted to new caravans by several manufacturers. Harrison deadlocks W Secure door locks for both caravans and motorhomes. Widely recommended on caravan forums. Milenco Corner Steady Locks W Three different types to make it difficult for a thief to tow your van away.

Ground anchors

Hardie-Secure Ground Anchor W


Rotary ground anchor in chrome. Inconspicuous and easy to drive over. Terra Force Ground Anchor W 26mm-diameter, case-hardened-steel head resists all forms of attack (59mm internal diameter allows all chains to be fitted). All necessary high security fittings included. XGA 03 Ground Anchor W The high-performance XGA Series of single-bolt ground anchors install in minutes. Folds flat when not in use, safe to drive over. Virtually indestructible and fixes to floor with a single bolt. Use in conjunction with other methods.

Hitch locks

SOLD SECURE APPROVED 40/50 Towing Eye Lock Avonride Hitchlock

May 2012


Boxer VR Hitchlock


Bradley Autohead Hitchlock


Bradley Original Hitchlock W Bulldog Hitch Lock W Bulldog Mini Lock W Bulldog WW100 Hitchlock W Diamond Hitchlock European Security Ltd

T 01775 821201

Doublelock Condor Hitchlock


Doublelock Eagle Hitchlock


FHL 400 Saracen Ultra



Know how 12 ROOF



Shorting out the contacts used to be a favoured method of blowing alarm fuses, but most now have back-up batteries.

Not a vulnerable area on most caravans, which is why roof marking is so effective. Skytag was originally developed to fight the trade in stolen Land Rovers and proved so effective that it is now a cheap and popular method of protecting caravans.



Only need to be prised slightly open to expose the brittle plastic catches. These can be opened using a flat loop of plastic banding or simply broken off.

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All British caravans carry a unique 17-digit number that is recorded on the CRiS database. This number and the caravan description are recorded on a Touring Caravan Registration Document, which is held by the registered keeper. Thieves have been known to remove the CRiS and chassis numbers to prevent positive identification, sometimes altering the CRiS number with a heated pin and ink.




7 CORNER STEADIES Locks are available to keep these in the down position, making it very difficult for the caravan to be towed away.


Some tracking systems can be made ineffective by the use of illegal jamming devices that interfere with the GPS functions. Phantom’s Tracker (which is fitted to many new caravans) also has a VHF function, which isn’t affected.

If your caravan is on winter wheels, don’t leave the road wheels in either the caravan or the garden shed. Wheel locks prevent wheel removal as well as being a barrier to towing.

Hitchlock for AKS 2004, AKS 1300, AKS 300 & AK 160 W IWT Heavy Duty Coupling Lock


Robstop WS 3000 Plus W SAS Fortress 2 Hitchlock W Stronghold Winterhoff WS 3000 Hitch Lock W Super Heavy Duty AKS3004 Hitchlock


Super Heavy Duty WS3000 Wintehoff Hitchlock W

Security posts

SOLD SECURE APPROVED Opti 101/670 HD Round Telescopic Post W Opti Manual Product Range of Telescopic Posts W RAM H/D SQ Retractable Post (RRB/SQ8) W Retractapost TL W RT/SQ8/HD RT/R8/HD RT/R14/HD RT/114 W

Tracking services


Cobra Trak First W Cobra Trak First mobile W Defender W MT3 Europe W MT3 UK W Phantom Pro II W The Guardian Europe Tracks 360 Ltd T 01202 552203 The Guardian UK Tracks 360 Ltd T 01202 552203 NOT SOLD SECURE APPROVED Immobivan W Smartack W

May 2012






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Top 10 Security Tips There has been a big increase in cars being stolen after house break-ins by using the spare keys and this could equally apply to caravans. Never leave keys within sight of a letterbox, as thieves have become adept at fishing them out.


Never use your caravan as an extra household storage facility. If your caravan is full of clutter, even if there is nothing valuable inside, it will still provoke the curiosity of casual thieves.


Fit deadlocks. Even if a thief smashes or cuts through the door window, they still won’t be able to enter. If they climb in through a window it will be harder for them to get out with the goods.



Never leave any identification documents inside the caravan; these will be invaluable to the thieves if they are stopped by the police. They will also direct them to your empty house if they break into your caravan while you are on holiday.



A better deterrent than almost any other security device is to store your caravan on winter wheels. You must remember to store the normal wheels securely – not in the garden shed. Mark the interior and expensive, removable items with invisible security aids, such as ultra-violet pens or smart water. It won’t necessarily prevent the theft, but it might speed up the recovery process and help to convict the perpetrators.



If you store your caravan at home, always place it as close to the house as possible, with the corner steadies down and with the hitch pointing away from the gate. If possible, use a caravan mover to manoeuvre it into an inaccessible position where the door cannot be opened. Remember that a caravan stored at home is a clear signal that you’re away on holiday when it’s no longer there.



Never leave your caravan unattended at service stations. There are opportunist thieves who specialise in targeting these areas. The area between the M6, M42 and M1 is known as ‘The Caravan Bermuda Triangle’, with the motorways providing quick getaway routes for thieves.


Use multiple security devices. It may be more inconvenient for you, but when a thief is weighing up the odds, every minute’s delay that you create can be crucial in their decision to attack your van. We suggest that you only consider devices that are Sold Secure approved.




Store your caravan at a CaSSOA Gold-rated storage site. Remember though, that even on secure sites such as these, it is always wise to use your own security devices and never leave anything valuable inside.



Wheel clamps & locks SOLD SECURE APPROVED Alloy Wheel Clamp Bulldog Centaur Wheelclamps W Bulldog Euroclamp EM 500 SS W Bulldog Titan Wheel Clamp W Compact Plus Wheel Clamp



Diamond Alloy Wheelclamp European Security Ltd T 01775 821201 FNU100 Nemesis Ultra W

SAS Supaclamp Duo Gold Wheelclamp W

Hublock W

SAS Supaclamp Duo Silver Wheel Clamp W

Milenco Mega WheelClamp W

Wheel Clamp Scimitar Wheel Clamp (SH5437)

Milenco Wheel Clamp W W

QD22,QD33 & QD44 Wheel Clamps

May 2012

SAS New Defender Wheelclamp W

Stronghold Strongarm Wheelclamp W



The Condor Wheel Clamp



Caravan magazine security special  

Is your caravan really as safe as you think it is? Use our caravan security guide to keep unwanted attention away!