Trailer theft, much like auto theft, is a common crime in the United States and around the world that yields millions of dollars worth of stolen goods each year. Trailer thieves cause unsuspecting owners to lose their valuable haul and the money they invested into it.
Oftentimes, trailers are not registered with any organization, meaning there is no way for authorities to identify them if found abandoned somewhere. This leads to a high number of unsolved cases and loose ends for the victims.
To avoid becoming a victim, trailer owners need to know how thieves gain access to trailers and what they look for when attempting to find one with valuable cargo. Many victims do not notice or become aware their trailer has been stolen or broken into until days later only to find an empty shell where their equipment once lived or even worse, an empty parking space.
While trailers may seem like a simple and inexpensive way to haul things around, they can be expensive property. So it is important to take steps to protect your trailer from theft.
Fortunately, there are many ways you can prevent the bad guys from stealing your trailer so that you don’t have an unexpected expense on your hands. Here are some tips on how to keep thieves out of your yard and away from your valuable property.
Ways in Preventing Trailer from Theft
There are several ways to keep your trailer from being stolen or vandalized. Here is a list of the best and most effective:
1. Prevent Trailer Theft by using Trailer Wheel Locks
Install wheel locks on both the front and back wheels of your trailer. These special bolts lock into place, preventing rotation of the wheel once installed correctly.
It will take a thief much longer to pull off removing your wheel and making it unusable. This will give you time to get outside and confront the thieves before they can take your vehicle.
Not to mention, if they attempt to tow your trailer off with the wheel still attached to it, you will surely hear them because of the loud screeching noises it would cause.
This is a loud giveaway that something isn’t right with your trailer.
Each wheel lock costs around $20 but will most likely save you from losing an expensive piece of equipment. You can purchase them at many hardware stores or online retailers.
2. Use Coupler Locks
If you ever stop to think about it, couplers are key parts of your trailer. They attach the trailer to the tow vehicle and allow them to be towed behind each other securely.
Some coupler locks require a special key or padlock. Others can be attached with a cable locking device that wraps around the entire assembly. Regardless of which option you choose, make sure it requires time and effort to remove if someone wanted to take off with your trailer for whatever reason they may have in mind.
This will keep thieves at bay by requiring too much time spent trying to figure out how they got it unlocked or how they might cut through the lock completely. Coupler locks can cost anywhere from $20-$100 depending on their quality.
3. Repurpose a Doorstop Alarm
If you already own a doorstop alarm, then it’s time to put that bad boy to use. Door alarms are loud and extremely noticeable; not to mention they can scare thieves away before they ever even get started.
Typically, the alarm is activated when the door or window is opened, which makes it perfect for trailers that typically open upwards like cargo trailers. The alarm starts beeping loudly right away and will not shut off until it is reset manually. This would make anyone think twice about stealing your trailer especially if you live in an apartment complex where many eyes are watching at all times like neighbors looking out their windows or anyone walking by on foot or bike.
A stolen trailer full of expensive equipment could easily be worth thousands of dollars. This makes door alarms an inexpensive security measure especially if you already own one.
They typically cost less than $20 and are available in most hardware or automotive stores.
4. Use Trailer Hitch Guard
Basically, this is a small metal shield that is attached to the ball of your hitch which makes it harder for thieves to remove.
It typically has two locking holes in the center and will require specific tools to undo them. Depending on how difficult they can be made, these locks could add an extra layer of security when securing the trailer hookup with a padlock (with either a key or combination lock).
This will give you even more opportunity to hear if someone is trying to retrieve your trailer while keeping burglars at bay until you return home.
Hitch guards cost around $40 and can be purchased online or at many hardware stores and automotive shops.
5. Use Hitch Receiver Lock
Hitch receiver locks are similar in their construction to coupler locks except they protect the area where a ball or hitch would connect securely to protect your trailer.
This is another locking device that usually takes time and effort to remove with a key. If you have one of these, be sure you know how it works because you will want to use it when not transporting your cargo.
If someone was able to take off with your trailer while still attached to this lock, that means they would have been dismantling the entire front end of your car in order for them to transport away from the scene completely undetected. This simply makes no sense and can cost even more money down the road if done incorrectly which chances of getting caught afterwards (or even during the process) just keeps a thief away.
A hitch lock costs around $35 depending on the quality and can be purchased from many automotive stores or online.
6. Consider using Locking Lug Nuts
If you own a car, then you likely already have locking lug nuts that came with your standard wheelset. These can help prevent trailer theft if they are done up properly.
A would-be thief will not be able to remove the lug nuts without an air wrench or impact tool which sounds like too much work for them especially after investing so much time into finding one in the first place. That means the trailer is safe until you return because it’s virtually unnoticeable and makes no noise when someone tried to undo them (aside from loud music playing at full volume).
Locking lug nuts typically cost around $20-$25 per wheel depending on whether or not they come in sets of all four wheels or just front and back wheels. Also, make sure to do them up tightly, or else they could come loose during long drives which defeats the purpose.
7. Chain up your Trailer
You can keep your trailer secure by using a chain or cable that is encased in steel. You can use bolt cutters to remove them if they are not made of the right material but you will be alerted with loud noises when any form of the tool makes contact with it which will protect your property from theft.
Coupling this heavy-duty chain or cable up with a padlock ensures security while you are away for extended periods.
If you have more than one trailer, you could also include them all together so there’s only one key required to release them all. If you plan on traveling far distances then consider having multiple chains attached just in case someone attempts to sever one closest to your car, they won’t be able to reach another with a lock attached.
A 50-meter long chain typically costs between $20-$30 and can be found at many hardware stores or marine shops.
Other ways to Prevent Trailer Theft that Really Work
1. Lock Your Trailer to a Secure Stationary Object
If you don’t have a proper hitch receiver to lock your trailer into place, then try using a large tree or pole instead.
Make sure it is sturdy enough and cannot be moved by hand which will ensure safety while you’re away for extended periods. This technique could end up saving you money if someone tries to steal your property and causes damage in the process (which would make them less likely to undo anything during the next attempt).
2. Use a GPS Tracker
This is one of your best options if you are worried about your trailer being stolen. A GPS tracker provides live locations of where it’s been and can even tell you when it’s on the move.
It works by mounting a small device underneath the chassis or carrier that sends out signals always to an app that can be downloaded (most devices work for Apple and Android smartphones). You will need access to WIFI to use these features which some may see as an inconvenience but safety should come first above anything else.
3. Add Trailer Decals to your Trailer
Accordingly, consider adding decals with your name and phone number on them which is already registered to where your trailer was manufactured or built (this should be visible somewhere underneath the chassis if not replaced with another country’s style). This way, it may even discourage thieves from stealing because there is more of a risk involved with getting caught afterward.
You can get these decals custom-made for your trailer model or build at many automotive stores which are relatively inexpensive.
4. Park Trailer in Crowded Areas
If you’re attending public events like concerts, festivals, or other events where there are lots of people around then consider keeping your trailer in these areas so it is less likely to be stolen.
Get to know your neighbors so that if they see something suspicious happening or notice your trailer being loaded up without permission, you’ll be alerted right away instead of several days later when you notice it missing yourself.
5. Leave Your Trailer in a Safe Location
Parkin well-lit areas where there are visible security cameras nearby. Thieves are less likely to break into a trailer if they know they could face consequences for doing so or if the chances of being seen are high.
Also, try to park in a garage when you can if possible, which will ensure protection from outside factors like rain and harsh temperatures.
6. Remove the Wheels
You probably won’t be able to leave your trailer parked in public areas for extended periods of time which is why this technique will come in handy if you’re worried about it being stolen.
Taking the wheels off-limits thieves from loading it up and taking it away but should only be done as a last resort or if necessary. It’s better than having nothing to protect your property at all.
7. Take photos of Your Trailer and Gear
Having pictures of your trailer and its contents on hand can be crucial when it comes to filing an insurance claim if you ever find yourself in an unfortunate situation where it’s stolen.
Taking photos or video will help you capture any identifying marks that can help identify its owner including color, logos, decals, etc. afterward that would otherwise be difficult to explain with words.
8. Remove the Registration Plates
Remove your trailer’s registration plates to make it less appealing to thieves. If you live in an area where police officers patrol the streets frequently then this may not be necessary but if you’re worried about it, do it anyway because there is no harm in doing so.
It will cause more of a hassle for someone who wants to steal your property by potentially triggering red flags at checkpoints that could end up leading to their capture instead.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Travel Trailers Really Get Stolen?
Yes, they do, unfortunately. Thousands of trailers are stolen every year and depending on where you live will determine whether it is more or less frequent.
Are Travel Trailers Easy to Steal?
Not necessarily. If you have all of the precautions above in place then they are more protected against theft so it would be difficult for thieves to break in and load up.
Does taking dogs for camping really prevent thieves?
If you don’t mind the extra hassle, then bringing your dogs with you everywhere while camping or during events will make thieves less likely to steal while they’re around.
Any of the above tips can help you protect your trailer from being stolen so it’s a worthwhile investment to implement them as necessary.
If you’re still concerned with theft even after trying out these suggestions then consider investing in a security system that notifies you when someone is tampering around with your trailer or breaking into it.
Be safe and smart about protecting your property by doing whatever it takes to keep others from wanting to take advantage of what you’ve worked hard for!