This is a post about some of the things you should consider when it comes to securing your Tiny House Trailer or really any trailer for that matter. It’s one of those interesting dilemmas that you don’t typically think of with a traditional home. You don’t have to worry about someone driving off with your house and all of your possessions. While it’s not horribly common this type of thing can and does happen.
As an IT professional we generally approach security from the standpoint of “security in layers.” It’s understood that there is no system that is uncrackable. Given unlimited time and resources anything can be hacked. It really comes down to implementing a variety of techniques to deter the bad guys. They have to balance risk versus reward and will generally go for easy targets to avoid getting caught.
While I don’t claim to be an expert, on securing utility trailers, I think the same rules apply. For now the ideas I’m presenting are mostly for a stationary trailer or one that is in the build phase, but many of the same techniques apply if you’re moving it regularly.
The worst case, do nothing scenario, is that you have a utility trailer sitting in your driveway. A thief can simply backup to the trailer, attach the hitch and immediately drive off. This can be accomplished within just a couple of minutes. This is usually the scenario when you hear about a trailer being stolen. It’s not your fault, but making it easy puts a larger target on your back.
- Make it difficult to quickly connect the hitch. The first thing you can do, to slow them down, is make it more difficult to attach the hitch. Receiver locks are pretty easily available. It’s essentially a lock that goes into the receiver where the ball connects. An additional step would be to attach a coupler lock. These two often come in a kit together. Now the would be thief must pick (or break) two locks before they can hookup the trailer. Some trailers even come with adjustable couplers. This would probably be the best option as you could completely remove the coupler giving them nothing to attach to. They would have to bring their own coupler, attach it and then hookup.
- Make your trailer immovable. Running a couple of heavy duty chains through your wheels and attaching with heavy duty padlocks is one option. There are also locking wheel chock systems. These are used for stabilizing your trailer while parked, but by adding a lock it can add another line of defense. The would be thief would have to cut the chains, break/pick the locking wheel chocks, or remove your wheels and replace with others. Alternatively you can purchase locking wheel hubs that are similar to the “boots” that police might put on a car. Another good option is to jack your trailer up and put it on blocks or jack stands and remove the wheels completely. It’s hard to drive away with a trailer that doesn’t have wheels.
- Create a physical barrier. Ideally the physical barrier would be some kind of locked fence, but you have other options. If available you might park a large vehicle or heavy piece of equipment directly in front of your trailer. This effectively blocks a would be thief from being able to back up and connect. If neither of these options are available you can at least slow them down by having a stack of blocks or wood in the way. They can move them, but it’s another step that slows them down and increases the risk of being caught.
- Cover it with a tarp. This does a couple of things. First off it leaves them unsure of the quality of the item. Is and shiny and new or old and beat up? Second it sort of disguises the other things you’ve put into play. They would have to remove the tarp to even see what other things are steps have been taken. Again, it’s all about slowing them down enough that they worry about being caught.
- Implement a surveillance system. If you’re tech savvy or have plenty of money to spend you can install some sort of video surveillance system and/or posting signs indicating the area is under video surveillance. Thieves want to go undetected. Additionally you should maintain good relationships with neighbors and look out for each other. If you know your neighbors they will know if something doesn’t look right and can either notify you or authorities to help.
- Locate your trailer. What do you do if a thief gets away with your trailer? Hopefully you employed a number of the ideas above and this never happens, but if they do there are still some steps you can take. They make security markers that are invisible except under certain lights. Having some identifiable marks will help police identify your trailer. Another high-tech solution would be to hide some sort of GPS enabled device on the trailer. This can obviously be expensive, so you’ll have to decide if it’s worth it.
- Insure your assets. If all of the above failed and you’re without a trailer you’re going to want to make sure you have insurance. Tiny House insurance is available, but your regular policy may not cover it. Hopefully you did your research and know what is covered before you get to this point. Ideally you would have pictures and details of your possessions as well. This can be used to identify them, but also helpful for getting an adequate insurance payout if the worst happens.
Again, there is no fool proof method that completely eliminates any risk, but by utilizing a combination of the above techniques you should be able to deter most of the bad guys.
I hope this post was interesting/helpful. If you have additional ideas please share them in the comments below.