Monday, November 28, 2022


Are unattended possessions less safe when boondocking?


Dear RV Shrink:rvshrink
We have just started doing more remote camping or, as some of our friends call it, “boondocking.”

My husband is much more comfortable with this arrangement than I am. We are not just parking on the side of the road somewhere. We are birders and we like wild, natural places.

I am very comfortable staying in most of these areas, I just don’t like heading out for the day and leaving our RV and all of our worldly possessions. We have never had a problem, but I think about it all day long while we are out hiking or driving around the area.

Should I just “get over it”? Am I being too paranoid? Thoughts, please. —Unsecured in Utah

Dear Unsecured:
We all have our own threshold when it comes to security. Every boondocking site has its own set of circumstances. Sites can be too populated, too unpopulated, too remote, too accessible or even on the cusp of illegal. I think we have stayed in all those places and I will admit some of them made me a little nervous, and my wife very nervous.

You have to decide between the two of you where you draw the comfort line. Personally, I would feel better leaving my RV for the day in a well-used BLM desert than a Walmart parking lot. When traveling we use Walmart for overnight stops a lot, but seldom do we leave our rig there and go off to town.

I would suggest making your RV look occupied as much as possible, learn as much about the area as you can, and try to find others camping.

Once you have made your decision, go with your gut and enjoy chasing your birds. Stuff happens, and it can happen anywhere. If you talk with other RVers that boondock, you will discover that few have ever had major problems.

That said, my good friend just had half a bike stolen off the back of his motorhome while parked next to a very nice urban bike trail. He had his expensive mountain bike locked, so the thieves just took the front suspension and wheel.

“If you ask what is the single most important key to longevity, I would have to say it is avoiding worry, stress and tension. And if you didn’t ask me, I’d still have to say it.” —George Burns

Keep Smilin’, Richard Mallery a.k.a. Dr. R.V. Shrink



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Joe Kleinsmith
5 years ago

I use my Dash Cams which works on a loop to monitor the outside of my RV and campsite aimed thru the windshield or side window.
If I wanted to record the view of my backup camera, I could point the dash cam at the back up cameras monitor. It may not stop a theft, but would aid the police identifying and hopefully catching them.

Dick Mallery
5 years ago

Like I said, Scat Happens. I try not to live my life worrying about the bad guys. I would rather just deal with it, if or when it happens. I wrote this column parked in the nicest camping spot in Arizona, in my opinion and preferences. It is a high point in the grasslands of SE Arizona. We have Sky Islands all around us, We have one of our favorite, snow dusted, Arizona mountains out our westerly window, and a marsh hawk on a continuous hunt swooping over the grasslands. During the day we usually see a couple border patrol trucks cruise through, an antelope or two and occasionally a group of orange vested hunters. We love the solitude, dark night sky and wildlife watching that boondocking offers. We take what precautions we can, but life offers no guarantees. It’s not for everyone, otherwise we would have to go looking for another semi-secret place.
–Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink

5 years ago

For 11 years we did a lot of boondocking during extended RV trips on BLM and national forest lands out West and never had a problem with theft, either inside or outside the camper. There were usually some other RVs nearby. We have solar panels, a good generator, tools, rather pricey bikes, and other things on the outside of the 5th-wheel, plus computers, TV, camera equipment, etc. inside. We’ve been full-timing 2+ years and now mostly stay in developed campgrounds, more because we’re getting older and full hookups are easier, than worrying about thefts. We lock the doors when we leave but don’t worry much about thefts. (Two Labrador retrievers help give us some peace of mind, too.) The only time we’ve had a theft while traveling was last spring at a parking area on a highway near Ridgecrest, CA. While I was hiking on the Pacific Crest Trail someone smashed the sliding door window in our minivan to steal my bike inside. (The RV was several miles away at China Lake military base, not at this parking area.)

Gregory Illes
5 years ago

I agree with Calvin, the percentage of thieves is likely a constant. So, with lots fewer people around, there are a lot fewer thieves as well.

We have left our motorhome, for 12-14 hours at a time, in the most exposed and lonely places. It would be no trouble at all for a crook to clean the thing out. But way out there, we’re the only target. Pretty thin pickings, so guess what? No crooks. They go to the crowded places where there’s lots of stuff to steal.

Tommy Molnar
5 years ago

It all comes down to a matter of trust. Way back, when we used to tent camp, we just left all our stuff ‘out there’ and went exploring. Never had a problem. Times are different now and there’s more bad people around, but still, you just have to trust YOUR judgement on where you camp, and then trust that the bad guys are no where near you. It’s that – or stay home . . .

Calvin Rittenhouse
5 years ago

Maybe it’s because I started my life in places we couldn’t see the nearest neighbor, but I feel safer in remote places, and those are my first choice for camping. Country people are about as likely to steal things as others. However, like all thieves, they go where they are most likely to find something they can steal and sell. That is, where more people are (with their stuff). Plus, going to remote places and back is work, and thieves don’t want to work.

Marianne Edwards
5 years ago

I get asked this question quite often as well and usually provide a similar answer. I quite like your reply and will probably just refer others to it. We always think there’s probably more chance of being robbed in a populated area (even in a campground) where you may have neighbors but they don’t know you and may not think anything is amiss if they see someone (for all they know, they may be with you) entering your RV. Another argument is that people build their houses (with far more valuables inside) in remote locations in the country all the time. Are they constantly stressed whenever they leave to go to town?

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