Stolen RV Found in Homeless Camp

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A man shocked because his RV was stolen

The National Insurance Crime Bureau reported that more than one million vehicles were stolen in 2022, a 7% increase over 2021.

“California and Texas led the nation with the most reported stolen vehicles in 2022, and Illinois had the largest increase of any top 10 states with thefts increasing by an estimated 35% between 2021 and 2022.” This is a sad reality we live in today. 

But thankfully, RV thefts are far less common. Although the number of thefts has increased, reporting a stolen RV is still rare. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case for a Facebook user who shared his recent experience.

Let’s look at what happened and what you can do to prevent RV theft!

Are RV Thefts Common?

Statistically, RV thefts are uncommon. The odds of getting your RV stolen are very low. However, it happens. And when you’ve spent a lot of money on this investment, the statistics don’t matter. Thieves especially target motorhomes that they can drive off with. 

Towables are harder to steal because of the equipment needed to hook them up. But it’s not unheard of for someone to steal travel trailers or fifth wheels either.

Although not common, RV thefts do happen. People have stolen campers from campgrounds and storage facilities. Nationally, Florida has the most RV thefts. But this isn’t surprising since so many snowbirds travel south for the winter. 

Campgrounds and storage facilities stay full year-round in the Sunshine State. Without a tracking device, it can be hard to find stolen RVs. So you must take precautions to prevent theft and protect your investment. 

Facebook User Woke Up to Find Motorhome Gone

In late June, an RVer shared in a Facebook group about his motorhome being stolen in Redmond, Washington.

After driving seven hours to purchase the older motorhome, he returned home and parked it on the side street next to his apartment. The plan was to move it to a storage center the following day.

However, when he awoke, the motorhome was gone. He wrote, “Still in shock. We just got burnt pretty hard, and all those months of saving and planning to wake up to this is, well, a little heartbreaking.” 

He added, “We should have put a tracking device on it and a club or something. It’s old and easy to hotwire.”

Police Found Motorhome and Arrested Thief

But this story has a happy ending! The owners found the motorhome in a homeless camp and called the police. Police arrested the perpetrator, and the owners repossessed the vehicle. 

Although the steering column, passenger window, and a few locks were busted, the motorhome was still in one piece. The hubcaps were missing, the car dolly was gone, and the inside was dirty and full of the thief’s belongings and drugs. 

But the police allowed the owners to take the motorhome with them without confiscating it or anything inside.

The front of a police car

Where Should I Store My RV When It’s Not in Use?

The owner mentioned how he should have installed a tracking device or used a club to lock the steering wheel. But he had just returned from a long day’s drive.

No one blames him for parking the RV on the street and planning to take it to a storage unit the next day. Who would have thought someone would have stolen it?

Sadly, it was. And what many RV owners have learned from this story is where they should and shouldn’t store their RVs. Street parking isn’t safe. Even though it was only one night, this owner learned the hard way. 

If you can keep your RV off the street and in a secure location like a storage facility or personal driveway, the chances of theft are significantly reduced. It’s much easier to hotwire a motorhome sitting on the side of the road and drive it away than doing so in a gated storage facility. 

Thieves are also less likely to walk near your house to steal an RV sitting on your property. So if you can, avoid parking your RV where it’s convenient to steal.

However, storage facilities aren’t always the safest locations either. Be prudent about where you choose to store your RV. You’ll want to keep your RV at a place with cameras, a gated entry, 24/7 staff, and perhaps indoor storage where no one can see it. 

If you have room at your house, that’s the safest location to store your RV when it’s not camping season. If you have space in your garage or a way to get it into your backyard, that works even better.

7 Tips to Prevent RV Theft

Where you store your RV when it’s not in use can raise or lower the theft risk. But you can do other things to prevent RV theft. Let’s look at seven tips that could keep you from filing a police report.

1. Change the Locks

A cheap and easy tip is to change the locks when you purchase a new or used RV. Many RV locks are the same. Dealers use the same keys to get in multiple trailers and motorhomes on their lots. 

So even if it’s a new RV, change the locks just like you would after a house purchase.

2. Install a GPS Tracker

WhereSafe is a company that offers all types of GPS trackers. Spytec is another brand. Although a GPS tracker won’t prevent your RV from being stolen, it will allow authorities to locate it. 

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3. Install Motion-Detecting Lights

Another cheap and easy way to deter theft is by installing motion-detecting lights. You can put them on your house or on the outside of your trailer. Thieves are more likely to run away if a light turns on as they approach your RV.

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4. Install Security Cameras

Like the lights, security cameras will also keep thieves away. This is a more expensive option, but if you’ve spent tens of thousands or even a million dollars on an RV, isn’t it worth spending a couple hundred more on security cameras? 

Thieves want an easy target. So they’ll likely pass by an RV with security cameras outside.

Keep in Mind: Protect your RV with some of the Best RV Security Systems!

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5. Secure Your RV With Anti-Theft Devices

If you have a motorhome, buy a club to lock the steering wheel. If you have a trailer, buy a hitch lock. 

You can also use wheel locks on any type of RV. When you have multiple anti-theft devices in place, you reduce the risk of theft. Again, thieves want an easy target.

Master Lock 379ATPY Universal Trailer Hitch Lock , Black
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6. Be Thoughtful of Where Your Park

As already mentioned, where you store your RV is critically important to keep it safe. But where you park when you’re using it is also important. Don’t leave your RV unattended if overnighting in a Cracker Barrel or Walmart parking lot. 

If you boondock on BLM land, ensure the area feels safe and secure. In addition, push out the slides when you park. This makes the RV wider than the road, deterring thieves because you’ve eliminated convenience.

Keep in Mind: If you’re going to boondocks at Walmart, then you need to know these 6 Rules!

7. Park Your Vehicle in Front of the RV

Finally, although RV thefts are uncommon at campgrounds, they occur occasionally. When you arrive and set up camp, park your vehicle in front of the rig. Keep your tow vehicle in front of the hitch if you have a towable RV. 

If you have a motorhome and travel with a toad, move the toad from behind the RV to in front of it. This just makes it more difficult to steal your rig while enjoying an afternoon at the pool or hiking a trail around the campground.

A Happy Ending But a Sad Reality, Make Sure Your RV Is Secure

If you’re considering purchasing an RV, don’t let the experience of this RVer keep you from choosing this lifestyle.

Unfortunately, it’s a true story echoed by other RVers. But it’s not common. Do your part to protect your investment, and then enjoy making memories by the campfire.

Do you have other tips about how to keep RVs secure?

Last update on 2024-06-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

  1. Remove the starter fuse from the fuse box under the hood and take the fuse with you. It won’t prevent the vehicle from being stolen by towing it but it can’t started and driven off.

  2. I have one better…we had our motorhome being worked on in a shop.. I get a call first thing in the morning and it is the owner of the shop..he asked me had I taken my motorhome in the middle of the night..I tell him no I did not drive 75 miles and take my motorhome without paying you…he says do you want me to call the police… I am of course call the police… my wife and I head down there and I get a call they found the motorhome out of fuel near a homeless camp… keys were missing for all the compartments… broken ignition.. but we got it back quickly…

  3. install a fuel pump shut off switch somewhere were you are the only one that knows where it is….that way the vehicle will only drive a few feet before it stalls…..i use mine everytime i leave my RV….hope this helps

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