Earlier this year Dwayne Russell had his dually stolen. As a result of that theft he shared some great information in a Facebook post on keeping our rigs secure.
When my Crew Cab dually was stolen from in front of my house, I did what most people would do. I called the police, filed a report and then waited to see if it was recovered. As I stood there in the driveway staring at the empty space once inhabited by my hauler, this horrible feeling suddenly came over me!
There are not many trucks capable of hauling a 20,000 pound 40’ living quarters horse trailer. But now that the thieves had my truck, they had everything they needed to back under my trailer, load up all the horses and disappear with everything I hold dear. I found myself trying desperately to contain the panic that was now setting in!
I knew I had to act fast to protect my other Super Duty, the living quarters trailer and my horses. Here are few things you can do to help prevent your rig from being stolen!
#1 – Lock the trailers coupler!
The coupler I use on my LQ trailer is a fully forged coupler from Quick Coupler (www.trailergear.com) This coupler ships predrilled for a standard padlock. You simply slip the lock trough the slot and lock the latch shut. This locks the coupler closed and prevents it from sliding down or latching onto the trucks gooseneck ball. For couplers without this feature (Bulldog, RAM, Stallion, TEM, etc.) there are a number of aftermarket products from Blaylock Industries (http://www.blaylockind.com/retail/coupler-locks ) and Master Lock (https://www.masterlock.com/search?q=gooseneck%20lock) that you can use to secure the locking latch on your coupler. You can find these products online at Reese Hitches (http://www.blaylockind.com/retail/coupler-locks ) and e-trailer.com (https://www.etrailer.com/s.aspx…).
I personally don’t recommend off the shelf store bought padlocks as they are usually the same key as all the others on the shelf and easily cut with bolt cutters. When selecting a padlock I recommend high security Stanley, Schlage or Wilson Bohannon lock. These locks can be custom keyed to match your house key. The cores in these locks can also be replaced if you change the locks in your home. This way you can have one key for your house, gate, coupler lock, cables locks, etc. Look for a lock with a bolt that has a 9000 pound cutting strength to prevent someone with bolt cutters from easily cutting off your lock.
#2 – Make sure the trailers coupler cannot be removed
NEVER rely on locking the coupler’s latch plate as your trailers only line of defense from theft! Experienced thieves can easily defeat locks on the coupler by simply removing the set screw bolts that secure the coupler and letting it fall to the ground. The thief then inserts a new coupler of their own and in two minutes they have driven away with your trailer!
By locking the base of the coupler AND securing the coupler itself from being removed, you have made it much more difficult to steal your trailer. Note that I said much more difficult! Keep in mind anyone with cordless grinder can quickly cut off locking features and your six figure living quarters trailer is long gone. The object is to make stealing your trailer it as difficult as possible.
There are essentially two methods to secure the coupler on your trailer. One is to use a locking pin through the couplers adjustment holes and the other it to place a lock over the couplers set screw bolts. InfiniteRule (https://infiniterule.com/products/61041 ) offers a nice $41 locking pin and if you have two trailers they can provide two locks that are keyed alike. Before you order a locking pin, be sure to measure the diameter of the holes in your coupler. Typically these are ¾”. To secure your set screw adjustment bolts the folks at Blaylock Industries (http://www.blaylockind.com/retail/coupler-locks/tl-51 ) make a slip over locking cover (BLTL-51) which prevents the bolt from being accessed on the coupler.
If your trailer security involves storing the trailer without the coupler, make sure you install a GanderLock (https://ganderlock.com ) to prevent anyone from swapping in a coupler to steal your trailer.
The only downside I see to these products it that many thieves carry lock picking tools. For this reason I recommend multiple layers of security. Please read on!
#3 – Lock the trailer jacks or remove the hand crank
Let’s make it a lot tougher! If your trailer is equipped with hydraulic jack stands, it most likely has a controller that requires a key to raise or lower the trailer. Make sure the trailer’s hydraulic jack actuator is locked in the OFF position and take the key with you. If they cannot lower the jack stands, they are not going to be able to lower the gooseneck onto the tow vehicle. Keep in mind a smart thief will know how and where to disconnect hydraulic lines or bypass your keylock. If your trailer is equipped with manual jacks, you can remove the external crank, thus making it impossible to raise or lower the trailer without a having another crank. If your trailers jack stand(s) have holes drilled holes for the adjustable spring loaded baseplate, you can use a locking pin or cable to lock the jack stands so they cannot be retracted.
#4 – Use wheel boots / cables!
Let’s say we are dealing with a world class thief. They have lock picked the coupler lock or padlock and are now backing under your trailer. If they are successful at lowering your trailer jacks then they are minutes away from getting your trailer and possibly your horses.
Enter the “Boot”. Famous for use by police and law enforcement, the boot makes it impossible to move the vehicle by immobilizing one of the wheels. There are a number of companies that make these immobilization devices for your trailer including brahmalock.com (https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=40&v=T0w5BIi9M1M), trimaxlocks.com, and immobilize.com. You will want a lock that covers the outside of the wheel and prevents the lug nuts/tire from being removed, thus defeating the device. Otherwise if you go with a wheel chock type lock, you will have to install locking lug nuts to prevent the wheel from being removed. Cable locks are positively worthless and are easily cut. Using a cable lock might deter the thief an extra 15 seconds, so don’t waste your money.
#5 – Block the trailers gooseneck from being accessed
If you own another vehicle or a tractor you can park these under the gooseneck to prevent would be thieves from being able to access the trailer hitch. If you can, park the trailer along barns, fences or other trailers around it to block the trailer in and prevent access from multiple sides. This can help prevent thieves from using a truck or tractor to rip off any wheel locks.
#6 – Install an electronic tracking devices on the trailer
So how do you prevent your trailer from being stolen by a professional who has the tools and knowhow to defeat traditional security systems? Install a hidden tracking device!
GPSandTrack.com specializes in providing electronic tracking equipment specifically for trailers. Their $279 product is inconspicuous, battery powered and has a roughly 5 year battery life. Once every 24 hours the tracking device wakes up and reports its position. If the trailer is stolen, you logon to their website and change the tracker setting to report in real time. The next time the trailer reports in, the tracking device will change the setting to begin sending continuous updates and allow you to track it in real time. There is an APP available for Android devices or you can use a web browser on your iPhone, iPad, MacBook, Linux or Windows based PC or tablet.
The map interface is just like Google, you can even look in aerial mode to see where your trailer resides. But here is the really good news! If your trailer is stolen with a tracking device installed, you can almost guarantee that the local law enforcement will give your case their top priority! Why? Because they don’t want you to trying to recover your trailer on your own! And two, there is a high probability that your tracking device will lead to them to significantly more stolen property than just your trailer!
The only down side I can see to the GPSandTrack device is that you might have to wait up to 24 hours (depending on what time the device last reported) to turn on the real time tracking. If the device reported at 1PM and you come home from work, find your trailer stolen, you would logon to the website and set the tracking to real time. But the setting won’t take effect until the next time the device checks back in, which would be 1 PM the following day. This is a tradeoff for the long battery life and you cannot change this setting. After three years you will either need to replace the $50 battery or the tracking unit itself. They charge a small fee of $20 per year afterward to access their website where you control the settings on your tracker. Their tracking services work in the US, Canada and Mexico.
Finally – I installed an electronic tracking device on my remaining F450 Hauler
Take my word for it, if someone steals your truck, you are going to want to get it back FAST! If you don’t recover it within hours you risk the very scenario I described above. The thieves now have your truck and they KNOW it’s going to work with your trailer! They will wait until nobody is around and then they will take your trailer, horses and anything else of value they can steal. Even if they just take the truck it will be nothing but a pile of stolen parts before for the sun rises. Hours, even minutes count on a stolen vehicle!
Thankfully GPSandTrack.com who makes the trailer tracking device I described above, also makes an even more advanced device for your tow vehicle! Enter the LMU-200, a 12 volt powered tracking device that is installed in your tow vehicle. This device allows you to instantly start tracking the stolen vehicle, even if the vehicle is turned off or being towed! Better yet if the thieves disconnect the trucks battery, the tracking unit will switch to its integrated battery backup and keep sending the location signal!
The team at GPSandTrack have built in some amazing features including Perimeter Guard, Starter Disable and Towing Alerts. My favorite feature is “Perimeter Guard”. If your truck leaves the area you define as a perimeter (Say your home, farm, work, city or even the state) the tracker will automatically send you a text or email letting you know your truck has left the perimeter. And yes, you can set multiple perimeters! If someone has stolen your vehicle the LMU-200 has a feature to disable the vehicle’s starter! Once the thief shuts off the vehicle they will not be able to start it! One of the questions the Sheriff asked me when my truck was stolen was how much fuel was in the tank? This gives them a radius of how far they can travel before having to stop for fuel. If they stop for fuel and shut off the vehicle they are now stuck at pump!
Let’s say you receive a perimeter guard alert via email or text. You simply logon to the GPSandTrack.com website and click the locate vehicle button. In a matter of seconds multiple satellites track and display the address of your stolen truck / trailer on the map. You can then direct law enforcement right to your vehicle! The price is a mere $179 and includes two years of website access and support. Like the trailer tracking device you can replace the battery and it’s just $20 a year thereafter to have access to the website.
Losing a truck or trailer can put an end to your dreams. So take a few simple and low cost precautions so some low life thief doesn’t steal what you have worked so hard for. Be safe out there!