When it comes to protecting your vehicle from theft or break-in, there are tons of products and methods to create a bulletproof van security system. This post explores the many options you have to increase your vans security both DIY and professionally installed. If you’re looking for info on personal security and safety while on the road, check out the link below.
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Stickers are quick and cheap way to add a layer of visual security to your van. A simple alarm sticker might be enough to prevent a thief from attempting to break in because they are looking for quick and easy targets. You could have stickers that state things such as car alarm, GPS tracking, K9 warning, or immobilizing systems, doesn’t matter if they’re true. Stickers are a plenty on Amazon, link below.
Window Tint, Curtains & Coverings
Keeping prying eyes out is an easy way to increase your vans security system and easy to achieve with window treatments. Getting your vans windows tinted is pretty cheap, looks good and keeps the cab cooler as well. It’s almost a no brainier. Making your own DIY window shades is also cheap and easy. Custom fit shades are a game changer and I don’t recommend any van lifer to go without them. Versus the universal shades you get from AutoZone or Amazon, custom fit shades make a huge difference inside your van and keeps it cooler, safer and more private.
Window Security Film
Window security film is basically like thick clear window tint. It comes in different thickness like 4, 6 or 8mm and is best installed by a professional. It works by keeping all the broken pieces of glass together, so the thief has a harder time getting in.
Glass Shatter Sensors
These sensors are usually part of an alarm system and detect when a window has been broken. You can add them yourself if your alarm system has an aux port.
Also called window screens, these bolt over your window from the inside and hopefully deter anyone from breaking your windows. Not very popular in the vanlife community because they are ugly and destroy the mood, but worth mentioning nonetheless.
Central Locking and Alarm
Central locking comes standard on most new vehicles but maybe your van is seasoned and hit the road before this stuff was standard equipment. Either way, having functional central locking with an alarm is key to a good van security system and getting one installed isn’t a big deal either. I recommend finding one of the many car audio, window tint & alarm places and have your windows tinted at the same time.
Deadbolts refer to any method used to keep the door from opening even if the vehicles factory locks have been disabled. They are highly effective when installed correctly. There are a number of different deadbolt options specific to which ever vehicle you have. You can choose to go the DIY route or buy something off the shelf. Sky’s the limit when talking about DIY options and largely depend on your specific van, budget and skill.
Handle plates add to your vans security system by physically covering the keyholes and preventing screwdrivers from puncturing the metal near the handle. Not as common in the US as in the UK, you might have to do some digging to find the right ones from your vehicle. Check out Armaplate or ProPlate.
Exterior Door Locks
You’ve probably seen these kinds of lock on a van as some point. Very common on work vans to protect valuable tools and equipment while working mobile. They are relatively easy to install and definitely add to your vans security. Not the most elegant looking or the cheapest however. Puck locks are the most common, but there area a number of different designs from different manufactures out there including Thule as seen above.
Disable Door Lock Mechanism
If you can still gain access to the rear of the locks in your van, you can simply disable them by removing the clip that holds the push cable to the lock. This way, if someone compromises your lock with a screwdriver from the outside, turning it doesn’t actually do anything for them. This of course means it no longer works for your with a key either, however, when was the last time you had to use the key to open the door? I wouldn’t recommend doing this on all your doors, but maybe a couple that are targeted by thieves the most.
‘Jimmi Jammers’ are metal plates that increase you vans security system by preventing a thief from accessing your locking mechanism from the outside. A common break-in method is to destroy the plastic handle or the lock itself and then pull the door actuator wire.
Other Security Methods
Camera can be a great way to deter theft. If they’re visibly noticeable, then the sight alone might make a thief think twice. They do require a complicated system however which usually includes either a recording device or a internet linked service.
A kill switch is one of the best methods to prevent a thief from stealing the entire vehicle. They work by disabling one of the critical systems involved with starting or driving the vehicle. The most common methods are to disable the ignition circuit, battery or the fuel pump. They can be as simple or complicated as you make them, its up to you to choose the best method for your van and skill level. Definitely a must add feature to your vans security system.
GPS trackers come in both DIY and commercial options, but either way you’ll most likely have to pay some sort of a monthly data fee.
Not the most popular method of security for vanlifers but effective none the less. Bulkheads separate the van into two spaces that allow more control over your total security.
Steering Wheel Locks
Often called ‘clubs’ these devices have fallen out of use in recent years because there are known exploits thieves use to disable them. They’re also big and bulky so storing them isn’t convenient. Steer clear of these.
My Two Cents
At the very least you need to have central locking with an alarm and good window covers. If you want to take it a step further, deadbolts and a kill switch will be the easiest, most effective upgrades. A super secure setup would include all the above plus jimmi jammers, external door locks and a GPS tracker.