Cheshire Constabulary is urging caravan owners to be vigilant following a rise in the number of vans being stolen in the county.
Travel restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic has led to an increase in demand for staycations, mobile homes and caravan holidays.
Since the start of July four separate caravan theft incidents have been reported in Cheshire.
Caravans have been stolen in Widnes, Ellesmere Port and Chester, with vans on driveways particularly being targeted.
Inspector Anton Sullivan, of Cheshire Constabulary’s Roads and Crime Unit, said: “Enquiries in relation to the incidents are ongoing and I appeal to anyone with information regarding caravan thefts to get in touch.
“I also urge caravan owners to be vigilant, to review any security measures they have in place and to take steps to reduce their chances of becoming a victim of this type of crime.
“Caravan thieves often scout for desirable vans in the day before returning to steal them at night, so I also ask residents to keep an eye out for suspicious behaviour in this regard and report any suspicions to us.”
Cheshire Constabulary’s anti-theft advice for caravan owners is:
- Ensure that your caravan is kept secure at all times, with all doors, windows and roof windows closed and locked
- Remember to fit hitch locks, wheel clamps and immobilisers as required as part of your insurance, even when your caravan is in storage or you are on holiday
- Hitch locks lock a car and a touring caravan together when on-site or at temporary stops en route – the law allows you to tow with the lock in place providing that the hitch still rotates correctly
- Wheel locks have the dual purpose of being a visual deterrent and an anti-theft device – the best ones will still work even if the caravan tyres are let down by thieves
- Look for Sold Secure Gold or Diamond standard wheel locks – often locks that are easy to fit are also easy to remove
- Never store valuables in your caravan – those you take away on holiday with you should be marked with your postcode, as with any accessories you use with your caravan, such as water carriers, tables, satellite dishes etc
- Always store your caravan in a safe and secure location, as detailed to your insurer
- Leaving your caravan in an area covered by CCTV and good quality lighting will deter thieves, as will leaving the hitch head parked inwards and the caravan blocked in and difficult to remove – consider security posts to keep your van even more secure
- If you are thinking of keeping your caravan in a storage site, check if your insurer has a preferred site
- Before choosing a storage site for your caravan, check online to see what crimes have been reported there and how easy it is to go and pick up your caravan and if the site operator checks your details
- When holidaying in a touring caravan, try to use registered sites which have a good level of security, such as CCTV cameras
- Installing a GPS vehicle tracker could help to locate your caravan in the event of it being stolen – if you have such a system make sure that your subscription is paid
- If you have a caravan alarm, set it – these are often linked to the tracking monitoring company and can give early notice of theft
- Register your caravan with CRiS – if it is stolen and then stopped by the police they will be able to contact you quickly
- Keep an eye out for anyone acting suspiciously where your caravan is stored, and ask your neighbours to do the same – all suspicions concerning thieves targeting caravans should be reported to the police.
David Keane, Police and Crime Commissioner for Cheshire, said: “These opportunist thieves could not only potentially ruin someone’s staycation but could also put caravan owners at risk of losing thousands of pounds if their van is stolen.
“I urge all caravan and motorhome owners across the county to follow the advice from Cheshire Constabulary and check the security of their vehicles.
“Also, if any members of the public have information in relation to any suspicious activity in relation to caravan theft, please report it to Cheshire Constabulary or anonymously to Crimestoppers as soon as possible.”
Anyone with any information or footage regarding the theft of caravans is asked to call Constabulary on 101, give the details via https://www.cheshire.police.uk/ro/report or contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.