24th January 2016
Almost four caravans are stolen every day in the UK, on average, and most are never seen again. There are many anti-theft devices available and in this article we'll discuss the different types of alarm you can buy for touring caravans. We'll tackle static caravans and park homes in a separate article.
With touring caravans there are two situations you need to look at - stopping people getting in to steal the contents, then preventing the caravan itself from being taken away.
Different alarm levels
You could just put alarm stickers on your caravan, they are likely to scare away opportunistic thieves, but career burglars will know the difference.
Above that level, even a simple siren alarm will need to be linked to various different detectors on some or all of the doors, windows, roof vents and stabilising legs. There will almost certainly be internal infra-red detectors (PIRs) similar to the ones you see used with home alarms; in fact many cheap alarm systems will only have these.
All these detectors need to be linked back to a central control unit, usually with a keypad, so the real choice becomes about the facilities offered by the central unit. There are very few alarms that simply set off a siren these days, nearly all will send contact you or someone else in some way.
What works for you?
An alarm can't in itself stop a caravan from being burgled or stolen but it can scare thieves away. Whether this will be effective largely depends on where you store your caravan - on your drive, in a secure storage facility or somewhere else.
The point about siren alarms are that they rely on the fact that the noise will either scare burglars off or attract help, preferably both. But if your caravan is in an unmanned storage facility there may be little point.
Even if your 'van is parked at your home, alarm sirens alarms can still be problematic. If you have frequent false alarms it could cause problems with neighbours, and they are less likely to report it when it goes off. Of course you will hear it, but not everyone is keen to go out and confront potential criminals.
This is why contact systems have become more popular - you have more control over what happens if an intrusion is detected. They have a SIM socket so that the alarm can text or phone the owner; more complex ones will offer a list of numbers that will be contacted in turn, until someone is reached.
Some will only send texts, which can be unreliable (the SMS service that is, not the alarm) so ones that actually phone up and play pre-recorded messages might be better.
The big change in recent years has been GPS-enabled tracking systems which have come down in price significantly now. If your caravan is stolen they will activate and broadcast the position f the 'van, meaning there's a greater chance of getting it back and catching the thieves.
Some systems will allow you to set a safe zone with the alarm only being activated if the caravan goes outside that areas. This is useful if your caravan is on a secure site and might have to be moved around. This means this can be done without a false alarm being set off.
Trackers significantly increase the chances of recovering a stolen caravan and results have been excellent, with recovery in hours in some cases. Keeping the alarm in silent mode means that the thieves won't be aware that they are being tracked.
All this kit means that the power drain on the caravan is significantly increased so a lot of thought has to go to into making sure that your alarm system isn't rendered useless.
Doubling up on leisure batteries is a good idea and a mains hookup, if it's available, even better. Many caravan owners have invested in solar panels to charge batteries - they'll work even in the low light levels of winter. Some alarm systems will also monitor battery levels and alert you before they die completely, so that you have a chance to sort the problem out before it's too late.
There is, of course, a side benefit in that fitting an approved alarm system can lower your insurance premium. With nearly four hundred policies types currently on our systems and policies changing all the time, its impossible to give guidelines as to which alarms give the best discounts.
But with our instant online comparison system you can enter the details of different alarm systems and see the changes it makes to the list of policies that you are offered.
Whatever the effect on your premium, we sincerely hope that you never have to use either your alarm or have to make a claim.