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Don’t Let Thieves Steal Your Trailer

If you have a boat, camping, horse or other trailer that you have to park away from home, it could be an easy target for thieves. Professional thieves see trailers as easy money - just pull up, hitch up and drive away. Indeed, trailers are even stolen from owners' driveways. Here are a few tips that will deter thieves from taking your trailer.

One of the surest ways to deter thieves is to make it difficult to move a trailer by immobilizing one, or more, wheels using a wheel lock. This is the "civilian" version of the infamous Denver Boot used by law enforcement on flagrant parking violators. Examples of relatively low cost wheel locks are the Trailer Keeper and Alpha Lock. The Trailer Keeper, which can be used on virtually all trailer wheels from 10-inches to 15-inches in diameter, features a lug latch so thieves cannot remove the wheel with the lock still attached, and then install the spare tire to steal the trailer.

The Alpha Lock 2000b will fit any tire up to 11.5-inches in width with a larger truck model for bigger wheels. Both locks are painted in bright colors for maximum visual deterrence so potential thieves will see the lock and move on to another target.

A less costly deterrent is the Tire Deflator. They cost less than $30.00. The Tire Deflector locks onto the tire's valve stem. If you try to move a trailer, or other vehicle, without removing the unit, the tire will instantly deflate. You may have a flat tire, but you will still have your trailer. A cheap, but more time consuming deterrent, is removing a wheel. It is the least expensive option, and the wheel can be stored in a garage, or basement. Don't forget to remove the spare and install a locking type lug not so thieves cannot reinstall another wheel.

Many trailers are stolen while owners are away at a restaurant, in a motel or at a tourist attraction. Thus, lock trailers to trailer hitches on tow vehicles, and use a locking bar on receiver-type trailer hitches. Don't skimp when purchasing locks and chains. Buy high-quality hardened chains and locks.

Incidentally, trailer coupler locks, hitch locks and tongue locks are very easy to defeat. Thieves attach the "locked" trailer coupler to their tow vehicle with chain or rope, and pull the trailer out of sight. They also use a special device that just clamps around the locked coupler and hooks directly to their tow vehicle. They cannot do this if a wheel lock is installed.

Three key factors discouraging theft are visibility, time and noise. Thieves do not like working in bright daylight or in front of a crowd. Also if it looks like it will take too long to steal a particular trailer, they will go on to an easier mark. If you do things that will force the thief or vandal to make noise, attracting attention, he or she will probably be scared off.

Carefully pick the location where stored trailers are parked. Park it close to well traveled roads rather than on the "back lot." Do not depend on street lights or lighting from adjacent buildings. Consider installing floodlights. If possible stored in a fenced in area.

Park trailers and other vehicles strategically so they cannot be towed away easily. If several trailers are parked in the same location, wedge groups of them together or against a wall or steep hill. If parked at home, make sure it is visible to you or a neighbor. Here is one case where a nosey neighbor can be a blessing. Alternatively, hide the trailer completely in a garage or behind a tall fence where it can't be seen.

When storing for an extended period, chain the trailer to a stationary object like a substantial post with a heavy-duty lock, and case-hardened chains that cannot be quickly cut with ordinary chain and wire cutters. Wrap the chain around the axle or frame.

Have a good description of your trailer including serial numbers or other items of positive identification. Photographs help greatly in identifying property. Engrave your trailer with your name and driver’s license number. The latter number is recommended because it is traceable through any computer in any police car in North America. Engrave the information in at least two locations; one in an obvious place to discouraging a thief from stealing it to resell, and another in a concealed place should the thief remove the obvious marking.

Make sure your insurance policy covers trailer theft. However, preventing theft in the first place is, by far, the best approach. If your trailer is stolen, you have got to pay the deductible, deal with aggravation, down time and inconvenience plus likely increased premium rates and possible cancellation of your policy. If your insurance company offers rewards for theft recovery and prosecution, advertise this prominently with the signs and decals. Thieves may be deterred knowing that rewards could increase the chances that someone could turn them in for the reward.