Police are warning motorhome and campervan owners in North Yorkshire to take extra precautions, after numerous reports of suspicious activity.

Over the last few weeks, owners of vehicles such as motorhomes and campervans have reported receiving ‘cold callers’ on their doorsteps, asking to buy them – even though they are not for sale. Officers are concerned that this activity could be linked to criminality, and are urging owners to be vigilant and check the security of their vehicles. Vehicles parked on drives in villages near Selby appear to be being particularly targeted. Among the incidents reported to police are:

On the afternoon of Thursday 8 April 2021, a man knocked on the door of a house in Barlby and asked the homeowner if he could buy their motorhome, which was parked on their drive behind locked gates. The same thing happened at another property in the same village on the same day.

Also on the same day, in a different village near Selby, the homeowner was asked by two men to sell her motorhome. The owner agreed a price, but subsequently contacted police due to concerns about the transaction. Enquiries are ongoing.

The following week, on Monday 12 April, a resident in Barlby was approached and asked if their motorhome was for sale. The resident refused. The same day, a resident in Thorpe Willoughby received a cold call at her door, offering to buy her campervan. The owner made it clear the vehicle was not for sale, and put further security measures in place. Also on 12 April, a man knocked on the door of a resident in Hambleton, Selby, claiming to be interested in their motorhome, and asked if he could look inside it. The resident refused.

On the evening of Wednesday 14 April, a man knocked on the door of a house in Barlby and asked the homeowner if she was selling her motorhome. The same house had been visited by a different man asking exactly the same thing the previous week.

Owners outside the Selby district, elsewhere in North Yorkshire, have also been targeted. On Wednesday 7 April, a man knocked on the door of a house in Malton, Ryedale, and asked the homeowner if he was selling his motorhome.

Inspector Clive Turner, of North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Task Force, said: “Please remember, you aren’t obliged to buy anything from or sell anything to doorstep callers. Rogue traders often try to take advantage of householders by using high-pressure sales techniques, or may even be looking for opportunities to steal vehicles or property.
“It’s clear that a group of people are deliberately visiting homes in North Yorkshire with campervans parked outside, so it’s extremely important that if you own one, you double-check your security measures.
“In many cases, we have been able to respond to reports of suspicious activity by increasing patrols and visiting homes to gather evidence and provide crime prevention advice – so those responsible will find it increasingly difficult to target vehicles in our area.
“I’d urge everyone to remain vigilant, and follow our security advice. And if you are aware of suspicious activity, such as people appearing to take an interest in parked campervans or other high-value vehicles, contact North Yorkshire Police on 101.”
• Write your vehicle identification number (VIN) in several hidden places within the camper van. Use a permanent marker to write the VIN on the underside of drawers, in cupboards, and on wooden surfaces. Etch the VIN onto the windows using a diamond tipped engraver. This makes the vehicle easy to identify if it’s stolen.
• Always lock all doors and windows every time you leave your campervan. Check and lock your roof light and gas compartment as well.
• Do not leave personal or valuable items on display inside the vehicle. Consider forensic and security marking your personal items. In particular, never leave vehicle registration documents inside the campervan – they can help a thief to sell it on.
• Fix lock nuts or wheel clamps to the wheels.
• Block in the campervan behind a locked gate, or with another vehicle parked in front of it.
• Fit a tracking device and an alarm, and switch this on every time you leave your campervan – even if it’s just for a short time. Keep your keys with you at all times.

Call police on 101 to report suspicious people and vehicles appearing to take an interest in campervans or other high-value vehicles. If a crime is in progress, dial 999.