Monday, September 2, 2019

Tiny Trailer Security: the Valentino Approach

Karen and Louis Valentino
Occasionally I run across an online social media post that provides a focused, unified examination of a particular topic of interest to tiny trailer campers. My latest find is on trailer security, explaining a multi-options approach to dissuading thieves. This married couple's approach to discouraging someone stealing their tiny trailer addresses the hitch, the receiver, and the wheels. Without further explanation, here is the "Valentino Approach."
I recommend employing multiple deterrents. I first learned about this idea when researching bike theft. Just like with bicycles and other items that can be stolen with relative ease, a large portion of thieves are opportunists who will move on to the next guy if it looks like a hassle to steal your [insert toy here]. For our Hiker Trailer my husband did a huge amount of research. We use four deterrents: Trimax wheel lock, heavy duty latch lock, locking lug nuts AND a Proven Industries receiver lock. 
Trimax: The Trimax lock has a very good reputation, and Louis decided it was the best way to secure the wheel. One comment I read against it was that you can pull the wheel and replace it with another, but that is not a quick and easy task. An opportunistic thief is not likely to be prepared to do that. 
Locking Lug nuts and latch lock: Both of these can be defeated fairly quickly with the right tools, but the point here is to slow down the thief, ensure they have to have the tools on hand, make it more obvious s/he is at work, and to further delay theft. 
Receiver lock: We went with Proven Industries after viewing a good (and, of course, obviously biased) video on their website. It can't simply be beaten off like a lot of other receiver locks. 
GPS Locator: We also have a Tile hidden on our camper; it is a locator that works through Bluetooth and allows us to see the location of our camper on our phones. We have checked several times while on the road, and it has shown us exactly where it is. (Luckily it has always been where we expect it to be!) If you are interested to learn more about how Tile works, I recommend reading more on their web site. 
While a high number of thefts are opportunistic, and the more deterrents you have the better, some are planned. These thieves target their objectives and are patient. Your teardrop trailer is more likely to be stolen from its storage location (apartment parking lot, outside your home) than when camping. Anything you can do there will be helpful. We are lucky; our Hiker lives in our garage when not on the road. Some of you who store yours outdoors have good solutions I haven't had to give thought to. I think a key would be to try to block access to the tow bar/chains.
Editor: Regarding the Tile device, one FB comment was as follows--"As a note, Tile only works as short range because it works off of Bluetooth. Once the Tile is too far away from your phone you won't be able to locate it. (I believe 300 foot range) if you want actual far distance tracking you must buy a real GPS locator that usually has a subscription fee to it."

Karen Valentino responded in the following manner: "Tile is NOT a GPS device. But even if the Tile in my camper goes out of range of my phone, there’s a high likelihood I will locate it. Tile works through crowdsourcing. Say someone steals my camper. Any phone in the area of the camper that is running the Tile app will detect our Tile, and when that phone next connects to the Internet, it will push its location up to the Tile servers. Tile is prolific; it’s on many, many keychains, devices, wallets and valuables because  people use it to find misplaced items. We have been miles away from our camper, and when we access the app we can see that its last recorded location is right where it’s supposed to be. So this option is not as robust as GPS, but the only cost is the Tile itself - no ongoing service fee. And eventually, if not immediately, the thief is likely be somewhere where our Tile (and camper) will be detected."

Here’s a link to a “how it works” video on the Tile web site: https://www.thetileapp.com/en-us/how-it-works .

If interested in an additional perspective on trailer anti-theft security besides the Valentino Approach, try another Green Goddess Glamping article: "Security: A Starter Pack for New Teardrop Owners."

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