In 2022, a whopping 58,082 vehicles were stolen in the UK. Per day, that’s an average of 159 vehicles, or 1,117 a week! . I personally know two people who have had their van broken into while sleeping inside! One of them even had it happen twice...
So camper van security is a must! These things do happen. In this guide we will look at a variety of van security systems, including van security cameras, van lock boxes, as well as the best van locks and van security alarms.
I'm Shane, I've been teaching people to convert campervans for years; I'm the author of Roaming Home; The Comprehensive Guide for Converting Your Van Into a Campervan,writer of The Van Conversion Newsletter, instructor of The Van Conversion Course over at Udemy. And full-time vanlifer for 4 years!
So let's jump in and look at 20 genius camper van security ideas!
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Camper van security basics
First let's go over some camper van security basics!
This first point of discussion here is hotwiring. Hot-wiring is the process of bypassing a motor vehicle's ignition switch and thus starting it without the key. However I have some good news for you... Since 1988 all new vehicles must have an Engine immobiliser fitted. An engine immobiliser stops the vehicle from being hot-wired. The immobiliser is activated when the key is removed from the ignition.
So you don't need to worry too much about hotwiring. What you do need to think about is theft!
Here are some of the most basic 'van security systems' you can employ:
Don’t leave valuables in sight
As with any vehicle, don't leave obvious valuables visible in the cab when you are out. This includes your wallet, phone, cash, laptop, among other items
Park in well-lit areas
Light reduces crime. This is a big reason many cities are so well-lit. It was found that street lighting led to a significant 14% decrease in crime So when possible, park in well-lit areas!
Cities have more crime
You are far more likely to have a break-in when parking in a city than in the countryside. So get into nature! That's what the van is all about. 🌳
Don't leave out valuables at campsites
Things get nicked from campsites all the time. Just this summer gone by I had two camping chairs and a hangboard stolen while I was away! So pack up everything at a campsite when you're not there.
Keep camper van security details in your phone
Keep insurance details, vehicle registration, and important documents on your phone as a back-up. This will allow you to sort out the issue immediately within minimal faff.
Best camper van lock
Next, let's look at all the different camper van locks out there. Truly there are a plethora, so I have only picked out the most effective.
Broadly speaking, there are two types of camper van lock: vehicle locks (prevent the vehicle from being driven away) and door locks
Steering wheel lock
The steering wheel lock has been around since God was a child (though cars were more easily hotwired back then). One of the most trusty camper van locks out there!
The Clutch Claw is a van lock designed to stop intruders from using the clutch, and thus getting away with the vehicle!
Ever been clamped for parking illegally? Well this is pretty much the same except you're doing it voluntarily! A wheel clamp is a nifty camper van lock.
The deadlock is one of the best door locks you can install. It is completely mechanical, requiring a key to open - they're bomb-proof!
There are two types of deadlocks: interior and exterior.
Interior deadlocks are also known as mortise locks. They tend to be installed by professional locksmiths, however you can also install them yourself. Here is the van lock, and here is a video on how to install one! van lock!
Thunderbolt locks are a popular choice of deadlock.
Exterior deadlocks are much more popular in self build campervans. These are mounted on the outside of the door. I have an exterior deadlock on the back doors of my Transit conversion, it was easy to install and does the job perfectly!
A slam lock is a secondary van lock that locks automatically when you shut the door. A slam lock is usually installed by a locksmith.
Sliding door van lock
The sliding door van lock is one of the easiest van security systems you can install. Simply drill a hole in the side door rail such that you can place a padlock through it. When the padlock is locked it forms a physical barrier; the side door will be unable to open. I use this type of van lock in my build.
Back door interior van lock
The back door interior van lock is another relatively simple van security system. A metal plate is installed at the top of each door such that you can lock the two doors together from the inside. The image below demonstrates it best 👇
Cab doors van lock
An interesting way to keep the cab doors completely locked is to use the Fiamma cab door security bar. This extendable bar connects your two doors together, preventing them from opening.
Some people choose to do this the DIY way by simply chaining the doors together. The cab doors van lock can give great peace of mind when you are sleeping in a city overnight.
Best Van Security Alarms
Motion sensor van security alarm
The CPVAN motion sensor is by far the most popular van security alarm. This battery operated device couldn't be simpler to setup! Just install it somewhere inside your van (with a view over the sliding and back doors) and turn it on before you head out. If an intruder breaks in, it will sound the alarm! The remote operations is particularly handy.
Glass shatter van security alarm
A vibration alarm sensor / glass shatter van security alarm is really useful and easy to install. It detects when someone is trying to smash in one of your windows and sounds the alarm. The sensor sticks to the inside of the van window.
Best Van Security Cameras
A van security camera can be turned on when you leave the van and will stay recording until you return and turn it off. It is fantastic peace of mind.
One of the very best van security cameras is the Arlo Pro3. This is a small, lightweight, and powerful little camera that should do the job for any campervan. It delivers 2K resolution, audio, and full colour night mode. It has a 6-month battery life and can operate by motion sensing, sending a direct live stream to your phone. It is also weather-resistant.
To store the footage from the camera, you will also need to purchase the Arlo smarthub.
Though the Arlo Pro3 is my top pick for van security camera, if you are looking to install several cameras and are tight on budget, the ANNKE CCTV system could be the better bet. This system comes with four van security systems and a 1TB hard drive. It has Infrared night mode, motion detection, and is weather-resistant.
An alternative to the ANNKE is the JOINGLO 4, which is specifically made for truck (semi) drivers.
Dashcams are very commonly seen on motorbikes and expensive cars. So why not campervans! The Redtiger is one of the most popular dashcams on the market.
Dashcams are useful for catching hit and runs, or crash for cashs.
Van lock box
A van lock box is a great place to put valuables while you are away. It's essentially a big safe! Some people even weld the van lock box to the floor so they can't be removed.
In my van, I installed a secret storage compartment in the kitchen unit. It's very hidden from view and gives the similar functionality (though without the robustness).
Curtains and window tint
At the start of this article I mentioned the importance of keeping valuables hidden from sight. This means both the cab and the back of the van! One of the best ways to do this is to install curtains in your van. I installed a curtain rail on the side window in my van (doubles up as a bit of insulation too!)
Another great way to stop peeping Toms from looking in your van window is to install a window with tint in it. My van window has 80% tint - it still allows lots of light in, but makes it nearly impossible to look in from the outside.
Van GPS Tracker
A van GPS tracker is one of the most important things you can install in your van. If the van is stolen, the GPS tracker will tell you exactly where it is. Many van GPS trackers also have extra functionality such as showing you a map of where you have travelled and how far you have travelled. In 2020 I travelled across 18 countries in Europe, I loved being able to look at the log of the trip on the van GPS tracker afterwards!
In the Roaming Home 2023 study, we found that 21% of people have a GPS tracker installed in their van.
I highly recommend getting the van GPS tracker that connects to the vehicle batteries. It is very simple to install and will save you the headache of having to charge up the device.
One important thing to point out is that these van GPS trackers are very cheap to buy, but require a monthly payment to keep the SIM card topped up. Worth it, I would say.
Vinyl and stickers
I always love the idea of vinyls and stickers on campervans. Especially when they are brash, cheeky or funny.
I have seen people who have vinyl-wrapped their vans to make them look like a butcher's or a baker's van.
My van is called 'Beans' ... because I really love beans. Appropriately For years I've been promising that I will vinyl wrap my van as a Heinz Beans can. I imagine it would look something like this 👇
Still haven't got round to doing it...
A more accessible way to deter intruders with sticky plastic is to use stickers!
Anti-shatter glass film
Anti-shatter glass film is very effective for a very small price! It is a thin film of plastic that you stick on the van window. Instead of taking the intruder a single smack to break the window, he could be there for several minutes trying to break in. More than likely he will give up due to all the commotion he is causing.
Motion sensor exterior light
Earlier in this article, I mentioned that bright lights are a great way to keep crime at bay. For this reason it is best to park in brightly lit areas.
A great way to bring light to the van is to install a motion detecting exterior light.
The last van security system for today are window bars. I came across these in a video from Nate Murphy. The idea is simple! Two bars installed laterally across the window. Even if someone does smash the window, it makes it impossible to get into the vehicle.
And there you have it folks! 20 Genius Camper Van Security Ideas 🔐
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If you're looking for some guidance with your van conversion, you might be interested in Roaming Home; The Comprehensive Guide for Converting Your Van Into a Campervan. In the 380-page book (or ebook), you'll learn directly from me how to convert a van into your dream home - no prior experience needed!
Until next time,