CARAVAN and motorhome owners are being urged to take steps to prevent thefts this summer as new research reveals that they are being targeted by criminals as much as high-end luxury cars.
The research by vehicle security specialists Trackershop says that inexperienced caravanners are not taking the precautions needed to protect their assets - unaware that often, unlike vehicle levels, caravans and campervans are rarely recovered due to identity markings being removed.
Travel restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic have led to an increase in demand for staycations, mobile homes and caravan holidays.
The number of people buying caravans has increased by around a fifth, figures by a leading UK caravan trader reveal while Google Trends data shows that searches for ‘caravans for sale' are up 200 per cent in the past 12 months, peaking in June when Portugal was removed from the green list for travel.
But this surge in demand for recreational vehicles doesn't just relate to honest buyers, it is causing a huge spike in vehicle theft according to recent data.
In 2020 caravan and motor home thefts increased significantly with more than £1 million worth of stolen vehicles recovered by one tracking specialist alone.
In contrast to increased sales and Google search for caravans for sale, the search volume for ‘caravan trackers' remains static.
And whilst tracker sales are rising year on year, according to Trackershop-uk.com, they are not currently matching the levels of new and used caravan and motorhome sales in the UK - suggesting a knowledge gap when it comes to how to properly protect a vehicle.
Shaun Carse, Trackershop managing drector, said: "High spec caravans can cost up to Â£35,000, whilst top of the range motorhomes sell for Â£80,000-plus - making them an attractive booty for thieves.
"Even budget models around the Â£10-20,000 price bracket are attractive to criminals because of the huge demand for vehicles and the relative ease of which they can be stolen. Besides the sales value, many owners will keep treasured items on board or may have spent months or even years fitting them out, meaning that you can't put a price on the emotional value of a vehicle being stolen.
"With this in mind it is concerning that caravan and motorhome owners don't seem to be carrying out due diligence when it comes to securing their vehicle.
"Recent research discovered that just 13 per cent of motorhomes and six per cent of campervans have trackers installed, whilst 54 per cent and 45 per cent of these vehicles respectively don't have alarms.
"Our own data supports these findings. Even though we have noticed a significant increase in motorhome and caravan tracker requests in the past 18 months, we know from the soaring sales figures that there are still recreational vehicles out there that are vulnerable and that are not being adequately protected. This has the potential to make them an extremely easy target for criminal gangs - especially towards the end of summer when the season comes to a close and they are left unattended at holiday parks, in storage facilities or on a driveway."
Trackers are often an insurance requirement and a number of insurance companies will insist on an approved tracker, especially on high value models. They can also reduce insurance premiums.
Vehicles fitted with a tracking device have an 95 per cent recovery rate, compared to those without which are extremely difficult to trace and recover.
Other ways to keep caravans and motorhomes safe include CCTV, security lighting, alarms and secure perimeters with wheel locks and hitch locks will prevent anyone from towing your unit away.
Another tip is to ensure your VIN (vehicle identification number) is etched on each window.