It wasn’t long after picking up our Reconn R2 that I began to think about how we could stop it from being stolen. It lives on our driveway, and would be fairly easy for anyone to reverse up and drive off with it, and unfortunately we live in a world today where this happens more and more.
After a fair bit of reading, I went with a two prong thought pattern; a big, bright wheel clamp and a genuine DO35 hitch lock pin. The DO35 hitch lock comes with us all the time, and gets put on at free camps, and the heavy Nemesis Wheel Clamp stays at home.
What is a DO35 hitch lock?
The DO35 hitch is fast becoming one of the more common off road trailer couplings, and for good reason. They are great quality, easy to use and articulate well.
They do not use a 50mm tow ball though, and that means you need a different way to lock the hitch when you detach your trailer so no one else can hook it up and drive away.
The DO35 hitch lock is just a custom machined pin that you drop into the hitch which is closed using a key. The only way you can then hitch the van up is if you cut the pin off, or undo it with a key.
Are they easy to use?
Yep, overall they are quite simple to use. It can be a bit annoying to line the bottom piece up and turn the key, as you find it can go too far in and then the key won’t rotate. I’ve also had the key turn a bit when you go to put the bottom piece on, and then it won’t go into place no matter what you do.
It takes a bit of getting used to, but the DO35 is quite simple and easy to use. It’s also much lighter than a wheel clamp and a million times easier to put on.
How much do they cost?
You’ll pick a DO35 hitch lock up for somewhere between $104 and $120.
How effective is the DO35 hitch lock?
In terms of a hitch lock, these are good. You’d need a key, or a portable angle grinder to get through it. I suspect cutting it with an angle grinder would be awkward as well, with the limited room and design of the coupling. Of course, it would be possible.
The bigger issue is that the hitch lock only locks the hitch, and nothing else. There’s nothing stopping someone from bringing an impact gun and spanner, along with a new hitch and swapping it over in a matter of minutes and then driving off.
There’s also nothing stopping anyone from just hooking the chains up to the vehicle and driving off with it swinging in the breeze. Yep, you’d probably do a bit of damage, but its easily towed away.
Lastly, it can still be winched onto a tow truck and driven away as nothing stops the van from moving.
This is why we went down the path of a wheel clamp as well, which is also not perfect but at least its obvious and mechanically stops the wheel from turning.
Another great option would be a WITI anti theft system, which alarms when the van is moved, and applies the trailer brakes if it detects motion.
I like these, and will probably get one, but they aren’t obvious from the outside that they are fitted (nor very commonly known about), and that means thieves will make a start before realising there is actually some form of deterrent.
DO35 Hitch Lock Review
Overall, I’m fairly happy with the DO35 hitch lock. It fits in well, does its job well and is compact enough to carry around with you in your vehicle or van. We did have the rubber O ring fail after under a year of use, which does nothing integral except make the hitch lock line up a bit easier, but you soon learn the right position it needs to be in.
I wouldn’t be comfortable with this alone as the only security measure, but its a good start.
Like always, you can get cheaper alternatives. A simple tow bar hitch lock pin also fits through the DO35 and can be locked up, for about $20. They are however much narrower, they flop around inside and would be cut off with a portable grinder without much effort at all.
Yep, they are a deterrent, but not nearly as good as the DO35. I feel more comfortable with our DO35 Hitch lock. It’s not going to stop a determined thief, but it will make it harder.