Most motor-home and caravan owners already make good and efficient use of the global positioning system (GPS).  When we use our SatNav unit we are receiving signals from some of the GPS satellites in orbit around the earth.  By processing the signals which are  constantly being transmitted by these satellites our handy little mapping unit is able to tell where we are.  

This, hopefully, makes it easier for us to find our motorway exit and guides us unerringly to the entrance to the campsite, reducing or even eliminating the need to use the old-fashioned road atlas.  The GPS navigation system is well know to most of us by now and I will write a little more about on my SatNav and GPS page.

The reason for touching on GPS here is to begin to outline roughly what goes on in the workings of the many electronic tracking devices that are available for fitting to our caravans.

Most, if not all tracking devices start out with a GPS receiver very similar to your SatNav unit.  On your SatNav the signal is transformed into a little indicator on a map which tracks your progress in real time as you move around.  With your caravan tracker on the other hand this signal is taken and the position of the tracker, and your van, is transmitted to a central location where it is seen by people who monitor that particular system.  This signal is transmitted by the security device to the mobile phone/cellular network and arrives at the security companies screens in roughly the same way that a text will travel over the same network.  Attach this tracker to an alarm which is triggered by the act of breaking into or stealing you vehicle and the security people will be aware of the problem in, usually, under a minute.

In whatever way the system works I suppose all that is really important is that it functions to allow the people who monitor it to work with the police in order to recover your property.  The quicker and more efficient this process is the better chance you have of recovering your vehicle in one piece.  If you get it back quickly, preferably while it is still on the road, then the likelihood is that the thieves won’t even have broken into it and tampered with your possessions.  Anybody who has had their home or van broken into will tell that a large part of the experience, and this experience is all negative, is knowing that people have been in your personal space, looking at and handling possessions that only you have a right to see and to own.

Generally speaking it is best to buy a tracker that is connected to your alarm.  There are alternatives out there which can be activated after your camper van or motor home has been stolen, but they rely on you realising that is it gone before this done.  It is I think far better to spend the extra few pounds and get one that comes into play automatically when the alarm sounds.  Ensure also that when it does come into play that your subscription cover an immediate response from the company that is acting for you in this regard.

When the villains arrive the sequence of events should go something like this:

  • Alarm sounds and villains run away and bother somebody else
  • Alarm siren is disabled and villains make off with your caravan not realising that the tracker is now active
  • Alarm sounds at the desk of the security company
  • The position of the stolen unit appears on the screen at the desk of the security
  • You are alerted by text, depending on the system you own.
  • The security company calls the police and begins to liaise with them, keeping them up to date with the changing position of your unit.
  • The police find the offending vehicle, stop it and recover your unit.  They arrest the villains and take them into custody
  • After a few formalities you get your caravan or motor home back.

Fitting a caravan tracking system involves two simple processes each with an associated cost to the owner.  Firstly it has to be purchased and fitted for which you will be charged.  Secondly you will need to pay a subscription to have the signal monitored, tracked and reported in the event that it is triggered.  The cost of the initial purchase and fitting usually includes a substantial contribution towards the monitoring period.  This usually lasts for one year, depending on the provider, after which time you will need to sign up for the annual subscription.  This of course adds up, and when you add it to the other costs involved in maintaining, storing and insuring you unit, may be one that you consider doing without.  Fitting one of these things though really is a good idea and it dramatically increases your chances of getting your property back safely and unmolested should it be stolen.

Some manufacturers fit both alarms and trackers, if not to the full range, certainly to the higher end models.  Bailey for instance now fit as standard both the tracker intruder alarm and the Tracker Monitor Thatcham approved Stolen Vehicle Recovery System to their Unicorn range.  The first twelve months subscription fee is in this instance included in the price of the caravan.

You should also chat with your insurer because, by having one of these devices in operation, you may qualify for a useful discount on your insurance premium.  In fact as a rule you should make your insurer aware of all the precautions that you take to ensure the safety of your property and the consequent reduction in their exposure.