It’s not fun to talk about, but bad things occasionally happen to good campgrounds, and despite an operator’s best efforts to increase campground security, no park is totally impervious to crime.

At the risk of being a downer, here are just a few stats on how crime affects American businesses:

  • 95% of small businesses experience theft (Safety.com).
  • Cyber crime accounts for $2.2 million in damages annually – with a 424% increase in reports in the last year (Fundera).
  • Workplace crime costs businesses $50 billion a year (CNBC).

That being said, there’s plenty you can do to make sure you, your staff and guests feel safe while on your property, and save your business thousands of dollars annually.

Here are 6 cost-effective ways to improve campground security.

1. Full-service internet.

WiFi at an RV park

As more and more park owners move to running their campground’s business online, having a secure connection is more important than ever.

Fundera says that “43% of cyber attacks target small businesses (including campgrounds)” and that “60% of small businesses that are victims of a cyber attack go out of business within six months.” Needless to say, having a strong and secure network is vital and can prevent theft, hacking or loss of data and other valuable information.

Fortunately there are plenty of reliable resources for operators. Last year, Business.org came out with a list of the best high-speed providers for small businesses. But if you’re looking for a company that uniquely understands the needs of campgrounds, here’s a quick list of a vetted providers:

Refer to our previous article for more tips and best practices on setting up quality WiFi at your campground.

2. Gated entry.

campground security
The automatic gate at the Camper Resort on Lake Travis.

A 2013 Oxford study found that gated communities reduced crime by 33% when compared to non-gated communities. A gated entry alone could mean 1/3 less headaches for your campground.

However, while it’s a worthwhile investment, having a gated entry isn’t cheap.

According to Sunlight Living, a manual sliding gate will cost somewhere between $500 to $3,000, whereas an electronic gate will cost upwards of $7,000 (not including a keypad, intercom, remote controls, etc).

Despite the higher expense, an automatic gate means more opportunity for last minute reservations in that guests have the ability to go online, make a booking, and let themselves into your park. For a few of our campgrounds this has accounted for more than 5% of their annual revenue.

3. Video surveillance and alarm systems.

Both a preventative tactic, as well as a means of collecting evidence, a strategically placed video surveillance can be a good investment for your park. Some studies even seem to indicate that visible cameras account for a 50% reduction in crime (via New York Times).

While a whole new surveillance system can cost thousands of dollars, a single IP camera can range anywhere from $35 to $350. If you’re on a budget, consider investing in a few well-placed cameras around your campground.

You can find a list of 7 viable security systems for RV parks from RVing Know How. Also, Good Sam Members get access to discounts from SimpliSafe, including a complimentary HD camera and 2 months of professional monitoring for new signups.

Also, Reviews.com has a list of the top alarm systems in 2021, including highly-rated options from SimpliSafe.

4. Lighting.

According to LEDs Magazine, “increased levels of lighting” can lead to a 7% reduction in crime. If you’re looking to add a little more light to your park, while saving money, consider finding a durable motion-sensor flood light – which can range anywhere from $50 to $270.

To get a better idea of pricing and what’s best for your campground, check out Safety.com’s 2020 list of top outdoor security lights.

5. Security personnel.

Having an extra presence on your property can go a long way in creating a safer environment at your park. However, when you’re employing a security company or individual contractor, it’s important that you find someone who understands the culture of your campground and will make assessments based on your park’s needs.

Here are a few responsibilities to factor in when trying to hire a security guards:

  • Emergency responsiveness.
  • Monitoring of the park through surveillance system and walking around the property.
  • Filling out incident reports.
  • Enforcement of quiet hours.
  • Ability to manage and de-escalate conflict between guests.

To find the right fit, expect to pay between $15 to $35 for an unarmed guard, and between $60 to $100 for retired military or off-duty cops (via Thumbtack).

You could also consider hiring full-time or seasonal RVers as live-in personnel in exchange for free or subsidized lodging. Many campgrounds have also found success by posting listings on Indeed, Glassdoor, and RV Facebook groups.

6. Safe deposit boxes and shredders.

When it comes to important documents for your campground, make sure you have a good plan for storing and destroying sensitive material.

A safe deposit box at a local bank is a good option for storing contracts, documentation, or other valuable information, and annually it shouldn’t cost you more than $60. And if you’re looking to discard sensitive documents, a shredder can range anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to $11,000 – depending on the quality and life-expectancy you want.

Keeping your park secure.

Keeping your campground safe doesn’t have to break the bank. If you’re looking to create a more secure environment consider investing in the following:

  1. Full-service internet.
  2. Gated entry.
  3. Video surveillance and alarm systems.
  4. Lighting.
  5. Security personnel.
  6. Safe deposit boxes and shredders.