It is anything but a secret that Austin’s food trailers have faced their fair share of adversity over the past few months. As pioneers of the mobile vendor market in Austin, food trailer/cart/trucks are seeing what it’s like to be the first to experience misfortune. On the positive side, they are also helping all others learn from mistakes that were previously not acknowledged. These lessons come at the hand of everything from health code violations, rent hikes, location disputes and most recently, theft.
A recent string of thefts made victims of three trailers that serve the Austin community. Baltimore Ballers, a shaved ice trailer, fell victim to theft when their ice shaver was stolen. Also being hit by theft was Hook ’em Up Tacos as reported by Eater Austin. Lastly, one of Austin’s highly recognized trailers, Lucky J’s Chicken and Waffles was stolen on Christmas eve. Lucky J’s trailer was recovered and the culprit charged, but the other thefts are still unsolved as far as I am aware.
In light of this situation, I found it important to not only write a post about it, but rather provide preemptive options in avoiding these situations. After researching the subject, I have found some options to protecting the trailers that we visit so often. In addition to locking your trailer, consider the following low-tech solutions to secure your investment.
2. Make it immobile. Cities use it to immobilize vehicles with unpaid parking tickets. Trailer Lock, sells a product that is similar to the dreaded “boot” that protects your trailer from being towed away unexpectedly. This product makes sense because trailers are often at the same location for multiple days/weeks/months. When it is time to move the trailer, simply remove the lock and re-install when the new location is reached.
3. Shine some light on it. Trailers are not always near businesses with their own lighting, and they are often left in complete darkness when closed. Addingsolar powered motion sensor spot lights are a great way to call attention to the trailer when unattended. They are a cheap solution that doesn’t require hard-wiring or electrical experience. The best part is that they are inexpensive and found at a local hardware store.
4. How tough is your lock? Trailer theft does not always mean the entire trailer will be stolen as we saw with Baltimore Ballers. Protecting what is inside is just as important. I did some pretty extensive research, and the DL-80 is mentioned time and time again for locking the door to the trailer.
5. Track your trailer. Installing LoJack, a small, silent radio transceiver is a great way to track the whereabouts of your trailer. Once installed, the unit is registered with LoJack’s Database which interfaces with the National Crime Information Computer (NCIC) used by law enforcement. LoJack claims a 90% success rate. The cost is quite a bit higher than the low-tech solutions I provided and requires a monthly payment.
6. Add security. Not the kind you hire to stand outside, but rather an alarm and security system. There are several trailer-specific packages that can be found at trailer-alarms.com. They provide packages that have alarms and GPS to thwart off would-be thieves.
Hopefully the theft trend begins to dissipate in 2011. However, protecting yourself is never a bad idea. Let’s keep these thieves at bay, and keep the good food rolling!