Two white Class C RVs parked along road with text 'secure & protect your rv'
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Secure Your RV: Theft Prevention and Personal Safety

When I first started RVing, I was a solo full-timer.  As a female, I received a dozen crazy RV tips for safety on the road. One tip I often heard was to leave a pair of men’s boots outside my door so people didn’t think I was alone.  Perhaps I was naive, but at the time I never worried about how to protect my RV.  Preventing theft and personal safety was not a priority over planning and enjoying outdoor adventures.

Today, I RV with my husband in our Class A motorhome.  In total, I have been living on the road for over 8 years.  

Theft Does Happen

Personal experience doesn’t allow me to remain as naive as I was in the beginning. Bikes and skateboards have disappeared. A Yeti cooler was stolen right off my patio.

Overall, I still believe that the RV community is incredibly friendly, supportive, and helpful.  I have met some of the kindest, most generous humans on the road.

Ask Yourself: How Should I Protect My RV


Simple Precautions to Deter Theft

But, it is always a good idea to take some simple precautions to protect yourself while RVing. Just as you would lock your car doors at the grocery store, do what you can to protect your belongings on road trips.

The type of RV camping you do will significantly influence the theft prevention you need to consider and your safety concerns. Thus, I’ve broken this article into two sections: RV park camping and boondocking.

Take a few preventative steps to secure your belongings as well as some advanced planning for your personal safety to ensure you can enjoy RV travels without worry.

Collage of RV, hiker wearing headlamp, and security camera with text 'tips for rv theft protection and personal safety'

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Safety Precautions at RV Parks

You are likely to be closer to a downtown or city center when camping at RV parks. As a result, more people will be in and around the area. This means the risk of crime is higher compared to other camping locations.

Know that if you leave a shiny new bicycle sitting outside your RV without a lock, someone passing by could easily hop on, then ride off without even looking back. Sadly, I’m speaking from experience.

Choose RV Parks Wisely

One simple way to help deter theft from happening is to stay at RV parks that offer overnight security or have a gated entrance.  Before booking, read reviews from other travelers to confirm if the RV park’s security efforts match up with what they say on their website.

Do Not Leave Valuables in Plain Sight

Whenever we leave the RV unattended, whether in a parking lot, or at an RV park, we put valuables out of sight.  It’s such a simple thing to do and should help prevent crimes of opportunity.

Complacency is a sure fire way to become a bigger target for theft. Always remind yourself that protecting yourself and your RV is the priority.

If you leave a computer sitting on the dining table with the kitchen window cracked, it’s basically an invitation to passersby to consider reaching in and helping themself to a new computer. We like to keep our window shades closed to prevent people from seeing into our RV.


Personal Safety while Boondocking

Whether camping in a National Forest or on BLM land in the desert, boondocking presents some different safety considerations.

The biggest difference from RV parks is that boondocking areas are typically in a remote area far from the nearest town.  For us, we like to be self-sufficient.  As they say, “self-rescue is the best rescue.”  We try to be prepared in case something should happen to either of us, or to our RV while we’re boondocking.

Spare Parks and Emergency Kits

Part of this preparation means traveling with spare parts in case something breaks.  We never want to be stranded somewhere without a cell signal, unable to call for help.

But many boondocking locations are outside of cell reception range, so we try to keep as many parts and tools on hand as possible, to solve whatever issues might arise. 

We also like to keep an emergency kit in the RV for our personal safety.  See the section below on what to put in your emergency RV kit.

First, let’s review some specific tools for theft prevention and personal safety.

Airstream parked in a boondocking area will be secured with locks and camera

Tools and Supplies to Help Prevent Theft

Kryptonite Bike Lock

These rugged locks come with a guarantee that your bike won’t be stolen. Their locks cannot be cut with standard wire cutters. If your bike gets stolen with their lock on it, they give you cash toward replacing your bike.

In addition to the durability, ease of use, and efficacy of deterring theft, we think the guarantee makes these locks worth the price tag.

Bicycle Cover

We use a bicycle cover, which (we hope) deters thieves. Sometimes simple measures are very effective. We figure if you can’t see what’s under the cover, you won’t bother trying to steal it.

For one thing, the cover is kind of a pain in the butt to remove. It’s enough trouble that it’s more likely thieves will decide to pursue an easier target. Said differently, the process of removing the bicycle cover can attract attention. That, in and of itself, helps to deter criminal activity.

If you want to take it another step further, securely attach to the cover a bear bell or other simple noise mechanism. Look for a bell with a silencer such as a magnet enclosure. That way you can silence the bell when you’re rolling through the quiet campgrounds. Release the magnet if you’ll be away from the rig. It’s just one more simple measure of preventing theft.

RV Locks

STORAGE BAY LOCKS

Most RVers know that storage bay locks are fairly standard across RV models and brands. A person can purchase replacement keys for many of these standard locks. Continuing to use the standard locks is almost an invitation for bad characters to reduce your RV’s cargo weight.

If you’re going to store valuables in your outside storage bays, we recommend upgrading to a more secure lock.

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ENTRY DOOR LOCKS

The next lock to consider is your entry door. We have a dual-locking, high quality lock on our RV door, which is common on motorhomes.

If you have a travel trailer or fifth wheel, you may want to upgrade your main door lock if you don’t like the quality of the one it came with.

Upgraded RV Door Locks
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Upgrade the lock on travel trailers or fifth wheels.

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PROPANE TANKS

Another important, well essential item on your RV is the propane tank. Discourage anyone from running off with your tanks with a simple propane tank locking kit. Double check you order the correct size to fit your gear.

RV Double Propane Tank Locking Device
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Considerations for Personal Safety

Research and Plan Your Route in Advance

Share your route with someone close to you.  Promise to check in at certain intervals.  There’s some safety in knowing that someone knows your whereabouts. Agree to a plan of action if you do not check in at the designated time.

In addition, always know where the closest hospital is located where you’re camping. Know the emergency numbers of the areas you’re transiting through or staying in. The same goes for maintaining a list of local contact numbers for veterinarians, if you have pets. 

Pet Protection

If you have pets that stay inside your RV while you’re away from it, it is advisable to leave a note posted on your door or window that states that pets are inside. Include your phone number on the note so staff or guests can call you in the event of an emergency.

When I lived at an RV park in Phoenix, during the summer months the park would sometimes lose power. Having the AC turned off for any length of time was a threat to my dog who was sometimes home alone.

If I was leaving for more than an hour, I would usually tell a neighboring camper that my dog was in the RV.

Brown dog sitting inside RV on sofa looking out window

Related Reading: How to Keep Dogs Safe While Camping

Local Awareness

Be aware of the area where you are camping in. Ask the RV park staff or locals if there are any local threats to be aware of.

If, for example, you’re camping in Lake Tahoe, you should be aware there are bears in that area.

If you’re camping in dry regions that are prone to wildfires, you should know where to get updates about active fires. And, you should prepare your evacuation plan and route in advance for settling in for a long stay.

Travel Together

There’s safety in numbers.  When you caravan with other RVers, the likelihood of theft decreases. In general, thieves do not like to attract attention or be noticed. With that in mind, they are much less likely to approach a group.

That said, the opposite tends to be true when groups leave themselves vulnerable. It’s fairly easy to slide through a door that was left wide open to allow fresh air into the RV. It’s even easier when the owners of that RV are distracted and enjoying themself with friends at a separate campsite nearby.

Safety in numbers should not equate to letting your guard down completely.

Online Awareness

Be cautious about sharing your location and upcoming travel plans on social media.  This is especially important for content creators.

You do not want someone you don’t know or trust to be aware of when you will be out of town for an extended period of time.

We have a YouTube channel and post about our RV travels on social media.  Because of this, we’re always posting about the past.  We never post about a location until we have already moved on to the next.

Vehicle Maintenance

This may seem obvious, but keep up with your vehicle maintenance.  Regular service and pre-trip safety inspections will prevent problems while going down the road.

A well-maintained vehicle is less likely to give you trouble on long drives.  This is especially important if you’re planning to travel through remote areas where being stranded on the side of the road would leave you vulnerable.

Related Reading: RV Maintenance Checklist for Worry-Free Travel

Roadside Assistance

Be sure to carry a roadside assistance policy that covers you where you are traveling.  Keep their numbers readily available. A good tip is to save certain contacts in your phone with the prefix “roadside” so it’s easy to find with the search function.

You only need to search for the prefix rather than try to remember the contact name during a time that may be stressful. Now if you simply call Geico or Good Sam, then it’s simple.

But, if you’re someone who returns to specific locations, and learns (from your RV community or personal experience) about good resources, then it’s helpful to have these contacts noted by location.

For example: you can save a mobile tire repair company in your phone under “Roadside – Tires – Austin – [Name]”. That gives you 3 easy terms to search. That’s much easier than trying to remember the name of someone you may have only called once (or never before).

HARD COPY LIST OF ALL EMERGENCY CONTACT NUMBERS

Another good tip is to have a hard copy of all your emergency contact numbers, including your family and friends. Because as we all know, the only one who remembers all those phone numbers is our phone. So keep a paper list in an easy to access, secure location just in case something happens with your electronic device.

So just in case you do experience trouble on the road, you have a plan to get help as quickly as possible.

Fire Safety

Your RV should come equipped with fire extinguishers but those factory units may not be enough to protect you and your family.  There are many different products on the market today for fire safety in an RV.  Only you will know what your specific RV needs.

FIRE EXTINGUISHERS

I recommend, at the very least, you keep a small, easy-to-use fire extinguisher spray in or near the kitchen.

Two small fire extinguishers in cupboard.
Keep fire extinguishers readily available for use in emergency.
SMOKE DETECTORS

Be sure to regularly test your smoke detectors to ensure they’re working properly. Remember to replace the batteries, as needed, according to the manufacturer’s recommendation.

RV Emergency Kit


Essential Items for Your RV Emergency Kit

Store the kit in an area that is easy to access in any situation. You will not want to spend time unpacking your entire storage bay searching for emergency gear or supplies if you’re stuck on the side of a busy freeway after dark.

These are the essential items to keep your RV emergency kit.

  • FIRST AID. Pack a container with bandages, gauze pads, tape, antiseptic, tweezers, disposable gloves, pain relievers, and allergy medications.
  • Keep everything in one container so you won’t need to search for small items in various drawers, baskets and boxes. That’s particularly stressful in an emergency.
  • You can also include related items, such as insect repellent.
  • TOOLS. In addition to certain must-have RV Accessories to maintain your water and sewer systems, make sure to pack the tools you’ll need for minor repairs and maintenance
  • Swiss army knife, adjustable wrench, screwdrivers, duct tape, electrical tape, zip ties, WD-40
  • Spare parts, such as fuses and plumbing parts as well as certain items more specific to your type of rig (i.e., motorhome vs trailer) such as fuel filters and belts.
  • POWER SOURCE. A portable battery pack and/or power station is invaluable when you’re off grid or if something happens to the available shore power.
  • Checking that your portable battery is fully-charged should always be part of your routine departure checklist
  • EMERGENCY CONTACTS. Maintain and up-to-date list of contacts you can call in case of emergency. Even if these contact numbers are saved in your phone, it’s a good idea to keep a written copy in your glove box in case your phone battery is drained.
  • Roadside assistance and RV insurance carrier
  • If you travel with pets, check ahead for highly recommended vets in the local area
  • NON-PERISHABLE FOODS. You can include dried fruits and vegetables, peanut butter, crackers, energy bars and similar items with a longer shelf life. Be sure to also include bottled water.
  • WARM CLOTHING AND BLANKETS. Even some regions that are hot and dry during the day cool down significantly over night. It’s a good idea to pack a bag of warm clothing in case the temperatures are colder than expected. Likewise, pack warm blankets. This is particularly important if the power is down and the heat stops working overnight.
  • Mylar emergency blankets are thin, lightweight, and packaged in a compact wrapping. In addition, they are typically waterproof and windproof. For these reasons, mylar blankets are an excellent choice for campers and backpackers.
  • FLASHLIGHT or HEADLAMP. A headlamp in particular is useful when you need a hands-free solution, working in a darker area (e.g., under the camper or under the sink), or if the power is out inside the RV.
  • CASH. It’s always a good idea to have some cash in various denominations. Certain small markets in remote areas may not accept credit cards. In more extreme situations, if the power is out during or after a major storm, you won’t be able to use credit cards at ATMs or the gas station.
  • IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS. Keep photocopies of important documents in a secure location.
  • Driver’s license, Passports, Health insurance cards, Vehicle registration
  • It’s a good idea to also maintain a copy of your National Parks pass or other campground memberships in case of loss or misplaced cards

Security Camera System

Finally, I believe installing a security camera on an RV can provide an extra layer of protection whenever we’re camping.  Before we installed the system, I never thought we needed security cameras, but now that we have them, I’d never go back.

You can set the security settings to alert you when there is motion outside your RV during zero activity hours. That helps you know if someone is lingering outside your RV at night.

Depending on your wireless connection, you will also be able to monitor any activity while you’re fishing, hiking, or otherwise away from your rig.

RV Security Camera

Install an RV security camera to both help prevent theft protection and also to enhance personal safety.

RECORDING OF EVENTS

In addition to theft prevention, having a recording can help in other ways. One of our friends was bit by a dog at a campground. His RV security camera caught it on tape.  A security camera can be helpful for your personal safety as well as for theft.

Trust Your Own Instincts

My last piece of advice is to trust your gut.  If an area feels unsafe, move on.  No RV park or boondocking location is worth feeling unsafe. You will end up spending quality time worrying instead of enjoying the campsite.

We always feel it’s better to move on to Plan B or Plan C if something doesn’t feel right. Take the time you need to find the right spot. Ensure your safety is a priority.

At that point, it’s very easy to relax and be content with your accommodations.

Collage of RV, lock in key, and security camera with text 'personal safety and rv theft protection".

Safe travels, friends!

Side Note from a TREKKN colleague:

We keep a can of EZ Fire Spray under the sink. Let me tell you, I was very happy to have this particular fire extinguisher one night. The grease trap under the grill hadn’t been properly cleaned and the flames reached a screaming height. I turned off the propane (a bit scary), then raced back inside to grab the can of fire spray. As soon as I used it, the fire went out instantly.

A couple of quick general tips:

  • Make a point to remind yourself occasionally where you keep the extinguishers and other emergency items. I was really grateful that I knew exactly where this can of fire extinguisher spray was stored.
  • Check the expiration dates and purchase a new unit when needed.
  • Know how to use what you have. The EZ Fire Spray is simple to use: just point and spray. Note that with most fire extinguishers you need to first pull out a pin to activate, squeeze a lever, then sweep the foam side to side. We keep one of each. The Fire Extinguisher is important in case we have to deal with a larger fire. Kidde is a popular, reliable brand.

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