Do I need a tracker for my campervan?

Theft is a campervan owner’s nightmare, but if the worst happens, you’ll want to get your vehicle back quickly – and that's where a tracker can help...

Ford Transit Nugget campervan

Investing in a tracker for your campervan is an archetypal example of ‘hope for the best, plan for the worst’. Of course, you really don’t want to have to use it, but you’ll be glad you took on the expense if someone does manage to steal your campervan. 

You could say it was the physical embodiment of an insurance policy, but it's actually intended to prevent you having to use that policy in the first place.

There’s a bewildering range of options out there, however, so we’re here to explain what they are, how much they cost, and what you can expect from each one.

Why do I need a tracker?

The simple truth is that professional thieves are ahead of manufacturers when it comes to security. So, while it’s likely that your camper van will have an alarm and immobiliser fitted, a determined thief will find a way to defeat them. 

For a start, high-tech gangs can clone your vehicle’s key, allowing them to switch off the in-built security. If your campervan has keyless entry and start, gangs can also ‘relay’ the signal from the key in your house to the vehicle outside, enabling them to get in and drive it away.

And of course, some criminals are old school, and will simply break into your house and find the keys.

Whatever their method of starting the vehicle, this is where a tracker comes in. So, which options do you have?

Police catching criminal

Insurance-approved or not?

The first decision you must make is whether to go for an insurance-approved tracker or a simpler system that will alert you only if something untoward is happening to your vehicle.

However, in practice, there will often be no decision to make; many insurance companies will be unable to provide an insurance quote unless your campervan  is fitted with a tracker approved by industry safety body Thatcham. This is even more likely to be the case if your camper van has an insurance valuation of more than £50,000.

There are two categories of Thatcham-approved trackers: S7 and S5. S7 trackers tend to be cheaper than their S5 counterparts. 

An S7 device offers post-theft vehicle tracking, while an S5 tracker does this while adding a system that automatically recognises the driver of the vehicle. S7 and S5 trackers also use GPS signals.

However, there’s also a whole range of non-insurance-approved tracking devices out there, which can offer peace of mind if your policy doesn’t require an industry-approved tracker. 

These usually come with an associated smartphone app, which is used to alert the owner to unauthorised movement of the vehicle. They may also require a mobile phone SIM card and associated account, and will send data to the app. You can have these either as a pay-as-you-go account, which you’ll need to top up yourself, or as a rolling data contract, the same as you might have for your mobile phone. 

Some of these systems come with comparatively small batteries, but others have a much bigger ones that enable them to transmit for a much longer period, allowing a greater opportunity to recover a stolen vehicle.

There are also small trackers that plug in to your vehicle’s OBD II port (the socket that technicians plug devices into to diagnose errors with your vehicle) and again use a mobile phone SIM card to transmit data to an app. These need no battery back-up because they can draw power from the vehicle itself.

Campervan trackers – examples

OBD plug-in

Amatrac AM-T22

Amatrack AT-22 GPS tracker

Price £49.99 | Min monthly payment £2.50 (SIM card only)

This simple device simply plugs into your vehicle’s diagnostic port. However, you’ll need to set up a mobile account and insert the SIM card into the tracker. 

The data it provides is quite comprehensive, including live tracking, data from previous journeys, geo-fencing (warning when the vehicle enters or leaves a pre-set area) and various alerts such as for the engine being started or the vehicle being moved.


Free-standing

Rewire 104 Pro

Rewire 104 Pro GPS tracker

Price £59.99

The Rewire 104 Pro is a magnetically-attached tracker that can be moved between vehicles as you need. It’s also waterproof. Through its app, it offers live location and the quickest route to its location.

However, you’ll need to remember to charge it every so often, and its battery life varies depending on the mode you use it in.


Wired in

ProacTrac Tracker

Proactrack tracker

Price £259 (inc one-month subscription)/£555 with 36-month subscription

This is a tracker system that’s designed to be permanently installed in a vehicle, and, at this price, it’s best to have it professionally installed because you’ll then benefit from it being insurance-approved.

Being wired in, it's powered all the time, and it also offers the ability to switch off the ignition or the fuel supply remotely through an associated app.


Money no object

Tracker S5 camper van

Tracker S5 Plus

Price £708 (plus £229 for 12-month subscription)

The Tracker S5 Plus is the bells-and-whistles option that really covers all eventualities. Not only does it come with Authorised Driver Tags, but it offers four-way location tracking using military-grade VHF tech on top of the usual GPS and GSM systems, all of which makes it much more resistant to jamming attempts.

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