Trailer Trashed Blues

A friend’s travel trailer was stolen from their driveway recently, while they slept inside their home

A travel trailer has long been on my shopping list. All that mobile indoor space would be handy for fishing and hunting trips. Some items never make it high enough to become actionable, however, so I remain trailerless.

I suppose I’ve been fortunate that many of my hunting pals have their own trailers, allowing me the convenience of a well-lit kitchen without the hassle of towing. And while I prefer gathering around a roaring fire rather than remaining inside the trailer before retiring to my tent, there are times when weather means indoors is best.

So I’ve often indulged in the benefits of trailer use, without paying the costs of ownership. I don’t have trailer payments, or the added fuel bills towing entails. And as it is with most toys, buying a trailer means purchasing a variety of accessories needed to realize the full benefit of the initial investment.

One cost I hadn’t fully considered is of protecting that investment from theft. I was reminded of that cost, sadly, when a friend’s travel trailer was stolen from their driveway recently, while they slept inside their home.

I do own a trailer actually, but it’s a simple drift boat trailer. For years I’ve been able to keep it in a locked garage. Even then, I always kept a padlock on the hitch. This year, unfortunately, I’ve had to leave it outside. It’s in a gated yard, and the padlock remains on the hitch. I’ve added a long chain that wraps around the trailer and the boat itself, then locks to a nearby tree.

That’s pretty good security. If someone really wanted the boat and trailer they could still make off with it. The chain or tree could be cut, and the padlock on the hitch isn’t that sturdy. A pry bar would make short work of it.

I’ve done enough to dissuade the casual thief, and that’s about all I can do. The hardcore thief isn’t going to be phased, but they might look for an easier mark. My boat isn’t worth a whole lot anyway, but a brand new travel trailer, like the nice one my friends had stolen, is another matter. New trailers, especially the light, compact models you can pull with a midsize SUV, are not cheap. You can easily spend more on the trailer than on its tow vehicle.

If you’ve got a trailer out in the driveway, or even if it’s behind a locked gate, consider investing in some added security. A quality hitch lock is the first step, but that alone isn’t enough. When a potential thief is confronted with a hitch lock the common tactic is to attach the trailer to the tow vehicle with the safety chains and haul it a short distance to an indoor location. Then the lock is cut off.

A wheel lock provides another level of protection. Pick out a good, sturdy unit. Some have a feature that covers the lug nuts so the wheel can’t be removed. When you can, park the trailer near a stout post or tree and use a high-strength steel chain to secure it.

Finally, talk to your insurance agent and make sure you have coverage. Your homeowner’s policy might not be enough.

It’s sad it has come to this, especially in Montana. The thieves who stole my friend’s trailer probably staked out the location, sneaking around in the days before to inspect the theft-prevention features they’d have to foil. The sense of violation and fear this kind of theft creates may be an even bigger loss than the trailer itself.

Rob Breeding is the editor of www.mthookandbullet.com, which covers outdoor news in Montana.