Editor's note: Aon is no longer a sponsor of the antitheft decal program. FMCA is the sole provider.
In September 1998, 11 months after his Country Coach Magna was burglarized, Bob Carmichael received a $2,500 check from FMCA. But the most gratifying part would come later.
Carmichael had taken advantage of the Antitheft Reward Program, a free member benefit developed by FMCA and Aon Recreation Insurance (formerly RV Alliance America) to discourage burglarizing of FMCA members’ motorhomes.
“While this is a valuable benefit to FMCA members, I think it’s probably one of the least known and least understood benefits,” said Brock Benn, RVAA senior vice president. RVAA is a provider of RV insurance, and insures many FMCA members.
Decals attach to coach
Each FMCA member receives two yellow “FMCA Protected” decals to display inside their motorhomes. FMCA recommends placing the decals in the most visible place closest to the doors.
Each decal states that a $2,500 reward will be paid to any individual who provides information leading to the arrest and conviction of persons burglarizing a member’s motorhome. The decals, anti-static, are transferable should an owner purchase another motorhome.
A security system may be a better deterrent to burglaries, but the antitheft benefit “certainly has paid off for some people,” Benn said. “Members who have used this benefit are not only pleased to see the witness receive a reward but to know that there are still people willing to become involved.”
Although this member benefit doesn’t rival FMCA’s Traveler’s Message Service and mail forwarding service in terms of frequency of use, it could prove just as important.
John R. Smith, F216220, of Jupiter, Fla., valued this benefit so much that he wrote to FMCA executive director Don Eversmann: “Having been victimized, and then seeing the process and the end results of this member benefit, I feel that its importance needs to be emphasized to all FMCA members.”
In March 1998, vandals broke into the exterior storage compartments of Smith’s Monaco, smashed a window, ransacked the interior and coated the inside with chemicals from a fire extinguisher. Damage was estimated at $9,000.
The police could not find the culprits, so Smith “put in motion FMCA’s antitheft program,” he said. He made flyers promoting FMCA’s reward program and distributed them. A youth not associated with the group provided information to police that led to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrators.
“Now it will be a pleasure to issue the reward money to this young man,” Smith said in the letter to FMCA. In July 1998 he received a $2,500 check payable to the young witness.
If an FMCA member’s motorhome is burglarized, vandalized, or stolen, the member should first report the incident to the police and to his or her insurance agent or company. If there was a witness, or a person able to provide information to the police, that person may be eligible for the FMCA theft reward.
Two requirements must be met before a witness can receive the cash award. First, the potential reward recipient’s involvement must be documented in the incident report filed by the local police department.
The next step is to obtain a court document (or police document) confirming that the person arrested for the crime was convicted.
Meeting these requirements is not as easy as it seems, Benn said, as witnesses’ names aren’t always included on the police report. “The time-consuming part is getting the paperwork. Usually it’s the member who is acting as the catalyst in getting information from police and the court.”
For Bob Carmichael, this process took longer than expected, and taught him a little about the justice system as it pertains to juveniles. The county court would not release the name of the juvenile convicted in the burglary of his coach. “Because the perpetrator was a juvenile, and they’re so protected, it took a long time to get the proper paperwork,” he said.
Carmichael’s motorhome was burglarized on a Saturday afternoon in October 1997. His Country Coach Magna was parked in the back corner of a locked RV storage compound in Plano, Texas. Broken windows, a smashed front-entry door, and a stolen radio factored into the estimated $6,500 in damages.
FMCA’s antitheft decal was posted on the very window that was broken in order to obtain access to the motorhome, Carmichael said.
A 23-year-old man who worked at a stone and masonry business behind the compound detained a youth suspect as he crawled under a fence trying to get away. The man also recovered a pair of gloves, which later were claimed by the owner of an adjacent car that had also been burglarized.
Perseverance … pay off
It took Carmichael several months to obtain a legitimate police report confirming the details of the incident and arrest. It took six more months to get the court document.
But Carmichael persisted, and when the reward check arrived in September 1998, he proudly and promptly presented it to the man who helped bring a burglar to justice.
“FMCA and Aon were extremely helpful in getting this done,” Carmichael said. “And I wanted to make sure the young man got his reward, because not many people today would come forward and do what he did.”
For Louis and Alice LeBrun, F115976, of Waterloo, N.Y., the Antitheft Reward Program helped make the best of an unfortunate experience.
In October 2001, their 1999 Winnebago Chieftain was burglarized during non-business hours while awaiting repairs at Pirro Ford dealership in Elbridge, N.Y. Dealership owner Michael Pirro, working late, heard noises and saw two men removing items from the Chieftain. He called police, who came and apprehended the suspects.
The burglars had ripped out the television, VCR and CB radio in the Chieftain. They also smashed the Corian countertop and removed many other items from the coach.
The Pirro dealership received the $2,500 antitheft reward, prompting Mr. LeBrun to write to FMCA: “In a world where security is becoming a thing of the past, it is comforting to know that FMCA’s reward program may be a deterrent to motorhome burglary or bring suspects to justice….”
A kind act by Michael Pirro took the antitheft program one step further. In January 2002, he sent the full reward check endorsed to LeBruns to help offset the costs of repairing the damage to their motorhome.
For more information about the antitheft program, to obtain additional decals or to report a claim, call the FMCA national office at (800) 543-3622.