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If there is one thing that gets stolen the most from an RV when boondocking, it is a portable generator.
Portable generators are expensive, easy to move, and sit outside your RV unattended, making them the primary targets for thieves.
That brings me to a question:
How do I keep my RV generator from being stolen when boondocking?
Well, you can secure your portable generator by locking it down to a fixed spot using cables and chains. Moreover, you can mount it on your RV and install a GPS to improve security. Though nothing is foolproof, they will help deter many thieves.
In this post, I’ll go deeper into the various ways to prevent your generator from being stolen so you can enjoy camping worry-free. I’ll also be talking about how to identify and find your generator if it gets stolen.
Table of Contents
- Security Starts Before the Trip
- How to Secure your Portable Generator on the Campground?
- How to Retrieve your RV Generator when it gets Stolen?
Security Starts Before the Trip
Be it protecting your RV or your generator, it always begins while you’re planning the trip.
Do in-depth research, both online and offline, about the location you’ll be dry camping at before you head out. Ask friends, family, and colleagues about the campsite.
Apart from the information about the places to hike or activities to do, look for information on vandalism or other threats that previous campers have faced.
You may want to avoid campsites that have numerous reviews on thefts and other crimes, especially if you’re traveling with family.
If you’re a seasoned dry camper, plan for two different locations so you can move to the other location in case you don’t like the current situation of the campsite.
Once you settle down on your desired campsite, talk to the campers around you. Ask them about their experiences and let them know you’re there if they need help.
Ask them if they follow any generator hours and if they run or mind if you run your generator overnight.
Try to figure out the kind of people you’ll be camping around. There have been many incidents where the neighbors are known to steal things.
A good conversation is a direct pathway to a person’s mind.
Move your campsite if you find your neighbor’s activity odd.
Now you have settled down, made some friends, and started enjoying the outdoors. Let’s learn how to secure your portable generator from the crooks looking for an easy catch.
How to Secure your Portable Generator on the Campground?
Portable generators cost hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars. And the last thing you’ll want is to get it stolen from your campsite.
Unlike onboard RV generators, portable generators are not fixed securely to your RV.
This makes them vulnerable.
Though, there are many prevention methods proposed by experts to protect your generator from thieves.
But, if a thief has made up his mind, finds enough time and opportunity, nothing can stop him from taking your generator.
However, there is one thing we can do:
Make it as hard as possible to buy enough time to take action.
Thieves are opportunists. They would prefer an unsecured generator over a secured one.
Here are a few ways to deter thieves, to keep your generator secure on the campground.
Park Away from Connecting Roads
There is one main difference when it comes to stealing an iPhone versus a portable generator; i.e. generators are way heavier.
This makes it difficult for thieves to pick even the lightest unit and run. That means the thief must have a vehicle that will be used to carry the generator and elope.
To prevent your generator from walking away, make sure you choose your campsite thoughtfully. Look for a site that is away from the connecting roads used to move in and out of the National Forest or BLM land you’re camping in.
This will make it difficult for a thief to drive out with your generator while giving you enough time to respond.
Additionally, when selecting your campsite, look for bushes to park around. This will further camouflage your presence, making it difficult for the thief to know you’re there.
However, not all campsites will have bushes you can park around. In such cases, keep the generator in a place that will be easily visible from your RV.
Use Chain/Cable to Secure your Generator
Generally, thieves scouting campsites look for easy targets they can pick and run.
That makes chains and cables a good deterrent for opportunists but may not stop the determined thieves.
Get the thickest chain you can find and secure your generator by locking it with the chain and a padlock to your RV axel, a tree, or tow vehicle.
If you’re using your tow vehicle as an anchor, make sure the exhaust is pointing away, especially from the gas tank. When securing it to a tree, make sure there are no dry grass, leaves, or tree branches around, as the hot air from the exhaust may ignite them.
Note: The chain attached to the generator, along with the vibration when running, will make a rattling sound. You can tie a long piece of foam/rubber to the portion touching the generator to prevent the rattling sound.
Alternatively, you can also use a cable lock with an anti-cut alarm. They are pretty sturdy, and the alarm gives you added security by ringing if the cable is cut.
Though the alarm isn’t very loud and may be suppressed by the sound of your generator or the ambient noise. But it may be handy in times when your generator is not running and you have neighbors close by.
Remember, thieves these days use hydraulic bolt cutters and grinds to cut through steel. This makes cutting through most chains and cables like a hot knife through butter.
But, securing your portable generator with a chain or a cable will most likely deter those lazy crooks looking for an easy score. They are a great option for campers who leave their RVs unattained for a short time.
Pro Tip: Use a security bracket to reinforce your generator handle if you tie the chain or cable through it. Most smaller generator handles are made of plastic which is easy to cut, and the bracket will make it difficult to cut through.
Use Power Failure Alert System
The power failure light is a device that turns on a small LED light (also comes with an alarm) when you lose power to your RV. This helps you navigate around your trailer in the dark without tripping and injuring yourself.
But how can a power fail light with an alarm help prevent my RV generator theft?
As you know, the device only works as the power to the outlet it is connected to cuts off. This means, if the generator runs out of fuel or the thieves unplug the power cord of your generator, the device will start beeping and with a flashlight turned on.
The beeping sound of the device is about 78 decibels which is pretty loud. This is especially useful to secure your RV generator if you’re running it all night.
However, the device won’t work if it is connected to an outlet that is also powered by your house batteries. Thus, you need to turn off the circuit that transfers power from your batteries to your RV when the generator is running.
Buy a few of these devices and plug one in each room of your RV. As the power from the generator cuts off, you’ll hear the beeping sound irrespective of the part of the RV you’re in.
This, in my opinion, is the most inexpensive insurance you can buy to protect your generator.
Mount the Generator on Your RV
Mounting a portable generator on your RV can not only keep your generator secure while traveling but also from thieves.
RV generators are either mounted on the A-frame, the bumper, or the front hitch of the tow vehicle. They are then locked using chains, cables, or bolted to the frame securely.
This is an ideal method for solo campers who like to keep their generators safe from thieves and avoid moving a heavy unit around.
If you like, I have an in-depth article on the various ways to mount your generator on your RV.
Install RV Security Camera
When boondocking, security cameras act as a secondary pair of eyes for the RV owners.
They help record the events that are happening when the owner is away from the campsite, either hiking or grocery shopping. Some even come with motion detectors that send live feeds if anything suspicious is detected.
Install multiple security cameras with HD capabilities around your camper so you can cover 360 degrees of your RV.
Keep the generator right in the sight of one camera so you get the face of the low life who is trying or taking your generator. Additionally, having multiple cameras increases the chances of getting the number plate of the vehicle used in the robbery.
For me, a generator and security cameras are two of the most important gears for dispersed camping.
Here is a link to an excellent security camera that is weatherproof, has wireless capabilities, HD recording, and can be installed in under 1-minute.
Get A Dog
There are good reasons why dogs are used to guard our homes.
They are strong, alert, and can differentiate between the owner and other people. This also makes them a good partner to tag along for your boondocking trips.
Like in your home, if the dog senses an intruder around your campsite, it will bark recklessly, chase and attack. This will surely scare away the bravest of thieves.
Moreover, you can leave your dog in your RV on guard when you go out for short periods. However, make sure you keep the windows open and the vent fans running to keep your dog comfortable.
There are many breeds of dogs that can be an excellent choice as a guard. But, my personal favorites are Doberman Pinscher and German Shepherd.
They are big and scary.
How to Retrieve your RV Generator when it gets Stolen?
You now know the various ways to prevent your RV generator from getting stolen when boondocking.
But, what if all else fails to protect your generator and a determined thief drives away with your little powerhouse.
Well, don’t be disheartened.
There Are ways you can track your generator and identify it when found.
Install A GPS Tracker
Installing a GPS tracker on your generator will increase your odds of finding and retrieving your portable generator when it gets stolen.
Let’s say you’re out hiking and a crook shows up at your campsite. With no one around, he finds enough time to break your generator security system and leaves with his prize.
If you have a GPS tracker like the one from Tracki installed, you will be able to track the position of your unit LIVE.
The tracker is small, has a powerful magnet that can stick to any metal surface inside your generator. It has a built-in battery that will track for up to 3 days around the globe.
Note: Make sure to position it away from plain view. DON’T put it on the engine body as the heat will damage the tracker.
All you’ll be left with is to call the cops and give them the location of your stolen generator.
Inscribe your Name to Identify your Generator
Tracking your generator does not prove that the unit is yours or you’re the real owner of the stolen generator.
For that matter, you should inscribe your name on any metallic surface of the generator. Preferably on the engine body away from direct view.
Next, take a picture of the inscribed name.
Present the picture and the documents stating your engine number when you get a call from the police station.
Get your RV Insured
Like car insurance, your RV insurance covers everything from accidents to thefts, damage from fires to natural disasters.
This makes it a must-have when you’re on the road.
Moreover, many states require you to have an RV insurance policy by law.
If you get your generator stolen and everything fails, including the tracker, having RV insurance covering your accessories will pay for a brand new generator.
Have a look at the RV insurance coverage for motorhomes and travel trailers at Progressive and get a quote from them.
A portable generator is an essential part of your dry camping power setup. It is the best source for on-demand power when boondocking.
However, getting it stolen by a low life will not only be a financial strain but will also bring your trip to an unexpected halt.
Though nothing is 100% secure, the generator theft prevention methods we spoke about above will surely deter most thieves.
The important thing is to be alert while enjoying your trip.