Cheap and Easy Campsite Security - RV Enthusiast Magazine

Cheap and Easy Campsite Security

by | Dec 15, 2022 | Cool Gadgets, RVEXPERT

Photos by Bill Gehr
Thieves preying on valuable items around camp can be stopped in their tracks by a penetrating alert emitted from an inexpensive bicycle alarm that is easy to mount and more reliable than expected.

Preventing valuable items — think bicycles, expensive barbecues or even a favorite patio chair — from being stolen while camping can be challenging at times. Chains, cables and strong locks help, but it’s easy to find tools on the Internet that will cut through these security devices in literally seconds with nary a sound — and believe me, even a bicycle can be “lifted” in seconds if not secure.

Taking a proactive stance can help dissuade crooks from stealing things that are on the patio, in the bed of a tow vehicle or even in a storage compartment. One of the best ways to encourage thieves to look elsewhere is to use a surprisingly inexpensive bicycle alarm — which has many more practical purposes than simply protecting bicycles. With a little creative placement, these alarms can also be used to emit a screeching alarm if someone tries to enter your rig while enjoying happy hour on a neighbor’s patio or when you are not looking.

There is nothing fancy or sophisticated about these alarms. Even though these alarms are designed specifically to protect bicycles, the electronics are encased in a small plastic housing that can be mounted virtually anywhere (brackets are provided to mount the alarm under the bicycle seat or on the seat post, although many riders use a cable tie to mount the device on a frame member). While there are dozens of these devices online, we’ve had great luck with the “Wireless Bike Alarm + Ultra-bright Taillight + Bike Finder” found on Amazon for $24.50. (The name actually has 28 words, but if you enter the shortened description shown here, you’ll get there.)

components from a bike alarm kit sit on a counter top

There are dozens of bicycle alarms available on the Internet. The one for this project was procured from Amazon for $24.50 (see text for details). It comes with brackets for mounting the alarm under a bicycle seat or on the seat post.

a bike seat with an alarm installed on back
The most typical mounting position for the alarm is under the bicycle seat. It provides a red light for improved visibility and even has a bell sound that can be activated by pushing a button on the key fob.

The alarm also has a red light (flashing or always on) that provides additional visibility for bike riders, but it can be turned off using the remote key fob that controls all the functions. Once activated by the key fob, which is signaled by a loud chirp, the alarm is silent until someone touches the item that’s being protected. The slight vibration will cause the device to project a loud warning signal. If the perpetrator insists on continuing his/her quest, the alarm blares out a loud, annoying noise to warn you or bystanders that something is not right. Most crooks will not stick around.

close up of the bike alarm key fob held in a hand
the bike alarm key fob attached to its mount on a bike handlebar
There are multiple buttons on the key fob and the icons may be difficult for some people to decipher. We added a dab of red paint to the On button (top) to make it stand out (hey, our eyes aren’t what they used to be). The button below turns off the alarm; the next button turns on the taillight, either solid or flashing; and the last one rings the bell sound. The key fob can also be mounted to the bicycle handlebar.

For example, RV Enthusiast Technical Director Bill Gehr installed the alarm on a screen door years ago and the device has functioned flawlessly. Attaching the alarm to an RV’s screen door takes some creativity, but if you have a grab bar, it can be mounted with the bracket that comes with the alarm; otherwise, you’ll have to use a cable tie. Lippert markets its Screen Assist RV Push Bar ($28) and Camco offers a RV Screen Door Cross Bar ($43.35), which can be found at RV supply stores or Amazon. Mounting the alarm to the screen door will provide security when the main door is open, allowing air to circulate into the interior.

a bike alarm mounted to a grab bar on the screen door of an RV

Most owners leave their main door open during nice weather to allow air to circulate inside, but that leaves the RV vulnerable to crooks if you happen to be next door at Happy Hour or when the rig is out of sight. Mounting the alarm on the grab bar attached to the screen door protects against uninvited entry. When the screen door is touched, a warning signal is sounded — followed by a loud, obnoxious alarm if the intruder insists on entry.

a bike alarm attached to the handle of a portable generator
The bicycle alarm can be mounted to just about anything that you don’t want to “disappear” from your site or vehicle. Sometimes the provided bracket can be adapted like it was on this portable generator, but a cable tie just about always works.

The alarm recommended requires charging via a USB connection, but the lithium batteries last for a long time. In fact, in this case the alarm only required recharging every couple of months. The alarm can even be mounted to a portable generator, which seems to be a prime target for thieves these days.

An abnoxiously loud, brightly lit alarm is probably the cheapest electronic security device one can buy — and can offer a tremendous amount of protection for your valuables.

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