Track your tourer!
With caravan thefts at an all-time high in 2001, Caravan Guard wanted to help owners beat the thieves. A review of security systems showed that tracking devices had been extremely successful at cutting thefts in the car industry. But there wasn’t an obvious tracking device for caravan owners to buy. Power requirements of car tracking devices rendered many systems unsuitable for caravans that are often left disconnected from mains electricity for long periods.
We worked closely with security specialists Phantom Limited to develop a specialist caravan tracker that would operate for up to six months on a standard fully charged caravan leisure battery.
Once launched we promised our customers huge caravan insurance savings for fitting any caravan tracking device. To this day it remains one of our largest premium discounts.
Now in 2020, there is a multitude of caravan tracking systems on the market for tourers. But not all devices are created equal and some are far more sophisticated than others.
It might be tempting to pick up a cheap caravan tracking unit, but generally, these systems will not be backed up by a professional operating centre which can monitor your tourer 24 hours a day, alert you of illegal movement, and co-ordinate a smooth recovery with the police.
Because of ongoing monitoring there will usually be an annual subscription to pay to keep a tracking device active – this can cost anything upwards of £100 per year but don’t forget your caravan insurance discount might offset some or all of your annual subscriptions costs.
Caravan tracking systems and insurance
Generally, insurers will want a device to be of a certain standard to recognise it and award premium discounts. Thatcham is an independent research centre which puts devices to the test to assess effectiveness and reliability – not to mention make sure operating centres are of a certain standard.
Most suitable Thatcham approved tracking devices for caravans will fit under the Thatcham S7 category. There are some devices we accept with other accreditations including previous Thatcham Category 6 and 7 approved systems. Please check out our approved caravan tracking devices page for a list of those we accept.
Finally, we’d always advise caravanners to look for a proactive system which links to a motion sensor, virtual geofence, or alarm, so that your caravan tracking device will inform the operating centre if it’s disturbed whilst the tracker is activated. If you keep your caravan in a secure storage site or even at home, it can’t be ‘watched’ 24 hours a day and an early warning of unauthorised movement could be the difference between a police recovery within 30 minutes and never seeing your caravan again.
Five popular caravan tracking systems
Star Player #1
Phantom Pro 3 – Thatcham S7 approved
Phantom has built up a strong pedigree in the caravan tracking systems market. This latest product, Phantom Pro 3, uses GSM and GPS technologies and is compatible with an alarm system – when it’s set off it also sends an alert to Phantom, who will then contact you via telephone to check the situation. There’s also a 3G motion sensor to tell you any time your vehicle is on the move without your authorisation.
The Pro 3 uses your caravan leisure battery as its main power source, plus it has its own rechargeable back-up battery.
You can register up to three emergency contact numbers that can be alerted by a 24-hour call centre if unauthorised movement is detected.
It also comes with a smartphone app with battery monitoring. There’s also an internet portal, MyPhantom, via which you can locate your vehicle, check battery levels, mileages, history etc.
Prices include free fitting from Phantom’s nationwide service. You can also upgrade to Pro 3 if you have an existing Phantom Pro 2 or Target product.
Key features Thatcham S7 status, 50-channel GPS receiver, proactive via built-in motion sensor, nationwide fitting service, low power drain, daily server check-in, internal antennae, transferable to next vehicle
Expect to pay From £499 (includes first year’s subscription)
Star Player #2
SmarTrack Caravan Protector – Thatcham S7 approved
There are lots of upgrades here, including a new website (going live in January 2020) in conjunction with upgrades to the tracker’s free app (android or Apple). There’s also a free online account (it was previously offered at a charge), that keeps a fully accurate history of all your travels – and can be used to reminisce on your holiday memories.
Plus, there’s a geo-fence option whereby you can set up a virtual perimeter around your caravan and will alert the operating centre if the caravan is moved outside this. This can also be set for every port in the UK so, if a caravan arrives at such an area the tracking system will instantly question it.
In addition, the Caravan Protector comes with a hidden switch that deactivates the caravan tracker’s alerting, whenever you wish.
Subscriptions range from £12.49 a month to £149 annually to £399 for the whole time you own your caravan – any of which can be paid by direct debit.
It can also be connected to aftermarket alarm systems, such as Autowatch.
Key features Thatcham S7 rated, proactive via geo-fence, 24-hour monitoring by Global Telemetrics, low battery messaging, fully transferable to next vehicle (terms and conditions apply), three-year warranty (extendable to 12), manufactured in Britain.
Expect to pay From £399
Star Player #3
Tracker Monitor – Thatcham S7 approved
Tracker says it’s “the only stolen vehicle recovery company that uses VHF (Very High Frequency) technology to track and recover caravans and motorhomes and therefore the only technology used by the police.”
It adds its detection systems are fitted in police vehicles, police helicopters and at all major ports in the UK.
VHF means it can sense vehicles that have been hidden in shipping containers or lock-ups, rather than relying just on being able to see them.
Monitor is Tracker’s best-seller in the leisure vehicle sector. It’s a tracker/alarm combination that includes a motion sensor to warn you of when your caravan is on the move without your knowledge.
As well as being supported by UK Police, Tracker coverage continues outside the UK, in France, Spain, the Netherlands, Poland, Italy and Luxembourg.
The price here includes installation, with subscriptions to pay on top of this – starting at £179 for 12 months.
Key features Patented VHF and Mesh Network technology, long-life battery (up to five years’ standby), UK-wide installation network, proactive via motion sensor, battery disconnection alerts, anti-jammer.
Expect to pay £361
Star Player #4
HAL-Locate – Thatcham Cat 6 (equivalent to Thatcham S7)
HAL-Locate claims 100 per cent success rate in recoveries after theft and has a system that offers a priority police response in more than 40 countries.
The system automatically arms itself if your caravan is left stationary for over two hours – a handy feature if you forget to arm it yourself. As per the Smartrack system mentioned above, this tracking device can activate a geo-fence around your caravan, alerting the operating centre if the tourer is moved beyond this.
HAL-Locate can be bought and fitted via a number of UK caravan dealers, as well as the MCEA (Mobile Caravan Engineers Association).
Key features Thatcham Cat 6 approved. Low power consumption, integral rechargeable back-up battery, proactive via twin geo-fence protection zones, remote leisure battery check.
Expect to pay From £450
Star Player #5
Sargent – Thatcham S7 approved
Sargent’s tracking system isn’t on retail sale but you’ll find it factory fitted to Swift caravans since 2016 under the guise of the Swift Command Tracker and various 2019 Lunar caravans as Lunar Assist. But bear in mind as an owner of one of these caravans you’ll still have to pay an annual subscription to keep the device monitored. The cost is around £100 per year. The device is proactive so will warn the operating centre of unauthorised movement.
Even if a vehicle is stolen when the tracker is unarmed, a phone number is provided to report the theft direct to the monitoring house, who will arm the tracker and communicate directly with the police.
Key features Thatcham Cat S7 rated, proactive, bespoke systems for key manufacturers
Over to you…
Got any advice on caravan tracking systems you’d like to share with other owners? Please feel free to add a comment below.