HOW TO: Protect my teardrop or tiny camper from being stolen
EDITOR'S NOTE: Over the past few months in the online communities, people have asked questions about how to keep their teardrop from being stolen. While no method is foolproof, there are some steps you can take to help protect your investment. Below are a few of those ideas. This is an article from Cool Tears in 2015. Based on the conversations in the online communities, I felt it timely to share again. Remember, spending a little time and money on safety NOW can go a long way in avoiding heartache in the future.
“Thieves respect property.
They merely wish the property to become their property
that they may more perfectly respect it.”
- Gilbert Chesterton
Losing your trailer to a thief is not only painfully disheartening but a major inconvenience as you have to file a police report, deal with your insurance company (assuming you have insurance), find lodging if it happened while camping, replace the trailer and all your gear. If your trailer was hand-made, you have a lot of labor and hard effort put into the build process so it not easily replaced. The entire process can be emotionally overwhelming.
Now, there is no full proof security solution and a determined thief will find a way to defeat even the best lock. Therefore, locks are deterrents. The more difficult the lock, the better the deterrent. There are a lot of different security solutions out there that range in price from $20.00 to over $300.00. So, in this post I thought I would share an overview on how I am securing my trailer from would be thieves. You can find more detailed info on my solution including videos on my blog at www.cre8tiveapps.blogspot.com.
After spending great deal of time reading reviews, pouring over websites, looking at specs and watching videos, I found that there are generally two types of locks or ways to secure trailers, coupler (aka hitch) locks and wheel locks (aka the Denver Boot). Each has advantages over the other and their own drawbacks. So, let’s take a look at a couple of locks that can help secure your trailer.
Coupler Locks –Coupler locks work by securing the hitch or coupler on your trailer so that thieves cannot hook up your trailer to their vehicle and drive off. However, after watching a number of videos on YouTube, it became apparent that a LOT of the mainstream coupler locks were not much of a deterrent. They were easily defeated by a crowbar, bolt cutters or a drill in a matter of a minute or two and in some cases, seconds....seriously....SECONDS! I managed to find a few coupler locks that were actually quite rugged and not easily defeated by common tools from a hardware store. The AmpLock, Megahitch and Proven Industries lock all seemed to withstand quite a bit of punishment without failing. All three locks are made from durable materials like hardened steel or cast iron. The AmpLock secures the coupler by sliding over the lip and preventing access to the coupler. Both the Megahitch and Proven Industries fits over the entire coupler. They each used hardened steel locking mechanism to resist drilling and pick resistant designs for the key.
However, one of the drawbacks of a coupler lock is that they don’t typically secure the safety chain(s). The purpose of a safety chain is to keep the trailer attached to the vehicle if it comes off the hitch. If a thief shortens the chain(s) enough by looping it around the hitch or through the bumper, they can easily haul off your trailer even with your coupler securely locked. Of the three locks listed, only the Proven Industries lock secured both the hitch and the safety chain which I saw as a major advantage over the other two and why I selected it for my trailer.The lock retails for $195 at the time of this posting and is sold through retail trailer vendors. Contact Proven Industries to find a retailer in your area.
Wheel Lock - While the coupler lock is a good deterrent, you might consider adding a wheel lock for a good second layer of security for your trailer. Again, there are a number of options out there with various designs. I found two that seemed pretty durable and had favorable reviews. The Wheel Chock Lock by TriMax and The Claw by the same people that make The Club.
For my trailer, I chose the TriMax TCL 65. It is made from 1/8th inch steel, weighs about 6lbs and is fairly rugged. It is powdered coated bright yellow and has rubber tipped arms to prevent scratching or marring of your wheels/rims. The locking mechanism is high strength steel with a bullet style key/lock so I don’t think it is easy to pick and should resist drilling. The lock is a plunger type and does not require the key to lock it. It also has a tire chock feature so that the wheel does not move easily once in place. It has square steel tubing so it is like a hitch/receiver design that fits snugly around the wheel. It is pretty easy to put on as well as remove. The version I have (TCL 65) retails for about $50.00 at the time of this posting and is sold online and through retailers.
Now, as mentioned, there are also drawbacks to wheel lock solutions. One is that they are often defeated by just removing the wheel and putting on a temporary spare. Some wheel locks have a plate or cover over the lug nuts while some claw style designs do not. In either case, if you go with a wheel lock solution, be sure to also use locking or keyed lug nuts. This will make it more difficult for thieves to remove the wheel and steal your trailer. You can find locking lug nuts at your local automotive store or an online retailer like Amazon fairly easily.
As stated, no solution can stop a determined thief but you can make your trailer a less appealing target. Security products alone are only part of the solution. Get to know your camp neighbors so you can look out for each other, look into replacement insurance, explore GPS trackers for recovery, a multipronged approach is often the best way to secure your property.