In some ways your van is probably at it’s most secure when it is pitched up on site, especially if you are around it all the time or if it is on a busy site with plenty of other people around. However, it never pays to take chances as villains have developed all kinds of clever ways to bamboozle even the most observant.
I don’t want to give the impression that campsites are rife with crime, because this is certainly not true. These are the among some of the safest place you can be. However it is never a good idea in any environment to neglect to take some basic security measures.
We like to pitch our caravan where we can have a reasonable view, if such is available, of the countryside or townscape surrounding the campsite. We also favour pitches which will allow us to orient the van with the door-side towards the evening sunshine. This is the side on which, obviously, the awning is fixed and in which we like to spend as much time as possible. However we also tend to take into consideration that it is good practice to select a pitch which is overlooked by others. This will ensure that you, as a sociable member of the caravanning and camping community, can chat easily with your neighbours. It will also ensure that your neighbours passive attention is gainfully applied to keeping your property safe. This of course works in two ways, as by being able to see your neighbours property you are also helping to protect it. Thieves are less inclined to operate where they can be seen.
It can often be bothersome, especially if you are staying at a campsite for only a night or two, to fit your tow-hitch and wheel-hub locks. However it is often during these short periods of in-attention that we expose ourselves to the attention of criminals. Therefore it is wise to build into your routine when you arrive a reminder to fit both wheel and tow-hitch locks.
Regarding this routine, I find it useful to keep it in two places; firstly in my head where I can draw on it at my leisure and set up all the things that I need to do when I arrive. I also like to keep it in written form as a checklist that I can use when I want to. This may sound overly attentive to routine detail, but I have often been very grateful for it, especially if arriving late at a campsite after a long tiring drive down the motorway. This is useful both from the point of view of security, which is of course important, but also from the point of view of getting comfortable as quickly as possible. Without this handy list I have found myself having to get dressed and go back outdoors, sometimes in the rain, to attend to such essentials as the toilet tank.
On most campsites you are encouraged to park you camper-van or caravan oriented from the rear to the front of the pitch, with your door facing in a certain direction. This helps to ensure that everybody’s door, awning and parking space is facing in the same direction. This is useful for the general organisation of the campsite and it does ensure that everybody gets some privacy and personal space to the front of their unit.
Some campsites have pitches which are large enough to allow you to orient your unit whatever way you want on the pitch without causing inconvenience to others. This is useful from the point of view of personal preferences; if you are an early riser you might want your awning to face the rising sun, or if like me you like to relax in the evening sun you might like to have your living space oriented towards the west. From a security point of view this will allow you to place the front of your van to the rear of the pitch, or even to orient your van along the rear of the pitch, making it difficult for anybody to hitch it up and take it away. A mover fitted to your caravan is useful, if not essential, for some of this more unusual positioning.
The other thing to keep in mind when you are pitched up on site is that you will have more of your day to day portable property along with you than when your caravan is in storage. Sometimes it seems as if we have very little in the caravan but when you add up your mobile phones, laptop, a camera or two, a set of golf clubs, the little vacuum cleaner, the emergency fifty pound/euro/dollar note, the shortwave radio for listening to the home news while you are away, then it all begins to add up. Villains are not always after the big prize and sometimes little things will do them just as well. Therefore at least keep your valuables out of sight in your caravan or motorhome. Don’t leave stuff that others might like to help themselves to lying around in your awning or even in your car. This is easy to do when you are relaxed, leave stuff lying around that is, and nine times out of ten you will get away with it. I have seen places where a quick visit by thieves has yielded for them a good haul of small but valuable items of portable property.
It may be worth investing in a small car or caravan safe where you can store little things that you want to have with you while you travel. These are relatively easy to install and will, once used, help prevent sticky fingers attaching to your property.