INTRODUCTION: Motorhome security.
Motorhome Security:- As a motorcaravanner, or potential motorcaravanner, you will no doubt realise that a motorcaravan is a very special vehicle indeed. Some people use their vehicles as everyday transport and some only use their vans for leisure. Many people will use them for work, as a minibus, a spare room, a shopping wagon, the list is as numerous as the owners are individual. But one fact is common to us all (yes, we are motorcaravanners ourselves), our vehicles are special. We derive enjoyment from owning and using our vans and, as motorcaravanners, we tend to be slightly adventurous, independent, and perhaps from time to time enjoy ‘getting a way from it all’
It is however a sad fact of life that in this day and age crime is on the increase. Not just property theft, but personal violence is also unfortunately more prolific. This need not deter and should not dissuade motorcaravanners from enjoying the countryside and their vehicles, as most crime is opportunist, carried out on the spur of the moment. But it should make people aware that they have a responsibility to take basic steps to protect their vehicles, their belongings and, of course, themselves. This is where motorhome security should be considered.
One of the most common excuses we hear for not having a security system fitted is: ‘You cannot stop a really professional thief so what’s the point of a security system anyway?’ Our answer is that a good thief can easily pick a lock, but you wouldn’t dream of going on holiday and not taking the precaution of locking your home, but if the above argument holds true, what is the point? The facts are that there are different types of crime and different levels of professionalism amongst thieves. It is true that a really good professional thief can be hard to stop, but if the system that is fitted to your vehicle is of a high standard and correctly installed, it follows that it would take a top rate thief to overcome the system. In many cases a professional thief will recognise that the system will take time to overcome and look for an easier target. We will go into some of the many impressive defensive devices in more depth later in this information. But remember, the weight of evidence is against anyone who tells you that alarms do not work. But it must be the right product for the job!
One only has to read any newspaper or magazine to see an array of personal safety and vehicle alarms advertised. Some will be good, some bad and some indifferent. Some will offer a good personal security, whilst leaving the vehicle at risk, and some will offer vehicle protection at the cost to personal security. Most will be advertised, sold and fitted by people who have possibly never even seen the inside of a motorcaravan. If this is the case, then it is natural to assume that a system which is ideal for your car, boat, home, office, caravan, motorhome, garage, etc. etc. will not necessarily offer the best protection for any one application. We have found in the past that just trying to explain to non-motorcaravanners exactly what it is that appeals to us about owning and using a motorcaravan is difficult enough (try explaining to one of the non-specialist insurance companies what the vehicle is, what it does, what is in it, and you will see what we mean). So, to be fair to the uninformed, why shouldn’t a system that can protect your garage protect your motorcaravan? After all, it’s only a van with beds in, isn’t it?
It is also a mistake to assume that thieves are stupid ignorant people. It must be obvious to a thief that a motorcaravan from another area or country is going to be a target worth going for, probably full of the goodies that people want with them when they are travelling or on holiday. Just take a second now to think about what you normally carry in your van whilst away. Start with money and credit cards and go on from there. Once you sit and think about exactly what you carry and how much it would cost to replace it, if you could replace it, it is frightening.
So, what is the solution – short of turning your van into a mini Fort Knox? A good, well tried and tested security system that is easy to use, protecting you, the base vehicle, the interior and its contents and, when necessary, your external accessories (bicycles for example). Equally, you must also think of what you do not want. You no more want wires and boxes all over the van than you would want in your home because, when you are using your van, it is your home. It should not be difficult or complicated to use, it should not be ridiculously expensive and, last but by no means least, you do not want a system that thieves would find easy to beat. Advertised systems that you can easily take from vehicle to vehicle, with no wiring problems and it’s own power source usually means a system that sits on the dashboard. It has no wiring problems because it is powered by a small 9-volt battery. It would be of little value sitting in a hedgerow pipping it’s little head off with a thief driving your van away to rifle at a quiet location many miles away. Another consideration should be long-term service. Don’t forget that many dealers will contract out alarm work to local auto-electricians. The system that they install today may not be serviceable in a couple of years’ time when you may need batteries or spares!
As we stated earlier, we are motorcaravanners ourselves and, as such, realise that most of the technology used in motorcaravans is borrowed from allied trades such as the caravan or car industry. There was not a comprehensive alarm system on the market specifically manufactured to suitably protect a motorcaravan and we decided many years ago that to install a system to offer the special needs of a motorcaravan, we would need to approach the problem with a degree of innovation. We studied the market and decided that we would need to select a highly sophisticated system for the vehicle part of the motorcaravan, and supplement the technology with products from the domestic security market to protect the caravan side.
After many years specialising in motorcaravan security, we felt that our experience and reputation warranted taking this situation further. In conjunction with the manufacturers specialising in electronic vehicle security we developed the STRIKEBACK range of Motorcaravan Security Systems.
To help you understand the benefits of our systems we have compiled the following notes, but if you feel that you would like more information, please do not hesitate to contact us and we will be delighted to explain further. Easy Options One, Two & Three have been produced to satisfy different aspects of motorhome security which have emerged over recent years to assist you in your choice. The additional external and internal sirens have proven extremely effective since their launch and in 2002 it was necessary for us to introduce the Van Bitz Gas Detector, to protect our customers from a more serious type of attack. More information on these and all the other features can be found in the glossary at the end of this section.
As we have stated, we are Motorcaravan Security Specialists and as such do not normally undertake alarm work on caravans, and never cars. We use and understand all types of motorcaravans. All work is carried out to the highest standard. All wiring is ‘lost’. All connections are fully ‘loomed’ and soldered (except where it is physically impossible – the fuse board connections for example or where an alternative superior connection is justified) and, where necessary, the ‘loomed’ wires are run through flexible conduit. We are constantly aware that our reputation is the best advertisement that we will ever have. This is borne out by the level of repeat orders we receive as our customers change their motorhomes and by the enquiries we receive due to personal recommendations from existing customers. To this end we offer a no quibble two-year warranty as standard on all our components and workmanship, and a lifetime warranty on the Electronic Control Unit for our customer.
Thatcham in Berkshire is the home of the ABI (Association of British Insurers) ‘Motor Insurance Repair and Research Centre’ MIRRC. The engineers at MIRRC (known as Thatcham) test the quality of alarms systems against a given set of criteria. However, although guidelines are issued for the correct fitment of the alarms, there is no ‘policing or checks’ on the installations. Consequently, many ‘Thatcham’ alarms are installed by inexperienced or inept installers who get away with charging good money for poor work. Worse still are the engineers at Thatcham state very clearly that passenger car systems [Cat 1, 2-1, or 3] are not appropriate for installation onto diesel vans. A Category L1, L2-1 or L3 should be specified. Now imagine the scene; your insurance company tell you that you have to have an alarm system fitted and you ask if they can recommend a system? You’re told, “A Thatcham alarm is required.” You then get talked into having the Cobra or the Toad or the Sigma from the dealer and quite reasonably, assume that everything is OK because it is Thatcham. Being Thatcham approved is only of any use if the correct fitment policy has been followed. All three of the above produce great car alarms but it doesn’t help you if the fitter is rubbish and allowed to fit car alarms unchecked. Worse still, say the unthinkable happens and your motorhome is stolen and you’re asked to provide proof that a suitable alarm system was fitted. You then find out that the underwriter has a copy of the Thatcham list and tells you that as you have had an inappropriate alarm fitted, your insurance is invalid! I accept that this scenario is extreme, but think it through! The ABI (the insurers) own and maintain MIRRC (Thatcham) whose engineers say that a passenger car alarm is inappropriate for fitting to a diesel van. If they wanted to be difficult it would be very easy for them to do so. Do you really want to run the risk?
The Thatcham listing can be viewed by anyone on their website – www.thatcham.org
Caravan Guard has reported in January 2011 the claims for theft of and from motorhomes decreased by almost 50% between January and September 2010 as opposed to the same period in 2009. The insurance specialist attributes the fall to security conscious and ever-vigilant motorhome owners, as well as ever-improving security products such as high tech tracking devices and alarms. To this end Caravanguard will give you a 20% discount on your motorhome preium if you have Strikeback installed! That really shows what the insurers think about our systems!