Protect your trailer against theft.. follow my tips!

One of the things that I have wanted to write about for months now is a common issue or problem if you want to call it, with permanent trailers & coach trailers. What problem am I talking about? Well, to sum it up very simply it is this: trailer manufacturers are cheap! Exactly what do I mean? I have been to a few trailer manufacturers and what I have observed is that they do not spend the extra money to stamp the vehicle identification number (VIN) on the frame. Stamping the VIN on the frame is not the only way to put the VIN on the frame, you can also weld a pre-stamped metal plate, or, if you want to do like some big trailer manufacturers just stamp the last 6 digits of the VIN.
What do most trailer companies do to put the VIN on a trailer? They use a label that is adhered with some sort of adhesive. The problem with this is that the exposure to sun, dirt & water will destroy the label over time. It has been the case with several of my customers that they have a really faded label – so much so that at times it is impossible for me to do the VIN verification. Sometimes I have to look at the label at the right angle to be able to see the VIN. Furthermore, anyone can simply take a blade, metal brush, and some Goof-off or other type of dissolvent and take that sticker right off.
Now you may be wondering why this has been something I’ve wanted to write about for so long. The number 1 reason is for fraud & theft prevention. When you make it easy for a thief to swap or remove VINs you make it easy for them to re-register the trailer without detection by law enforcement or fellow VIN verifiers. Most trailers don’t stand out too much so it is easy for someone to steal your trailer and drive away with little to no problem – because most trailers look alike!
Another reason I think this issue needs to be better addressed by trailer companies is that an owner of a trailer can be the owner for several years and when they decide to sell it off to a new buyer the sale may not go through because the VIN is not visible – making buyers reluctant to buy. It is not an issue that many owners of trailers think of right away because they are not thinking about selling it right away, but it is something to keep in mind – always think of what may happen.
Just recently I verified a $100,000 trailer – YES – $100,000 car hauler for a customer that owns a race team – and I could not locate the VIN – I had to contact the manufacturer who told me that the VIN is underneath the trailer, on a metal rail, and that not all of the VIN was there, it was only partial. Think about that for one second: you have a $100,000 trailer that can easily be stolen and re-titled in another state or country by simply removing the Federal Label and stamping a VIN on it. It is too easy – and trailer companies need to wake up to this problem.
Another customer of mine who owns a janitorial business had his trailer taken from right in front of his house – $25,000 worth of equipment was stolen along with the trailer itself. A stamped VIN all over the trailer would not have prevented this crime, however, it certainly wouldn’t make it easier for the criminal to re-register the trailer.
What should your take aways from this be? Well, outside of my blog I have not heard anyone else address this issue. There is no public voice that is putting pressure on the trailer manufacturers and also this isn’t a worldwide issue that needs to be addressed. However, if you are reading this article, and you own a trailer – protect your assets. Take the necessary precautions to prevent theft and make it harder on the criminal. Here are a few suggestions:
  • Look for a company that does metal etching: you can order a few metal plates made for you with your VIN number on it and have a welder weld them to your trailer. I would suggest you get ridiculous with it and make one or two of the metal VIN tags large and have a few more welded around the trailer’s metal frame.
  • Use a clear silicone waterproof sealant on your Federal Label: spray something like Loctite or any other similar product to protect the VERY important Federal Label. This label is important and you cannot simply request a duplicate for it. With water and the sun hitting it, direct exposure to the elements will drastically reduce its lifespan.
  • Make heavy duty, industrial strength stickers for your trailer: if you want to take another approach, go ahead and have stickers made – but make sure that they are heavy duty and are capable to withstand the elements and make sure that they are very hard to remove!
  • Have a painter paint your face on your trailer – now this last one will probably ensure that no one steals your trailer – ever – but I’m just kidding! J
  • If you have any questions or suggestions please contact me. If you need a VIN verification done on your permanent trailer, coach trailer or camp trailer – give me a call and I will get it done!

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