Saturday, December 10, 2022


Ripped off surge protector needed protecting


Dear RV Shrink:rvshrink
Maybe I’m naive and too trusting, but when I spent $250 for a surge protector I didn’t buy the extra plastic lock box. In hindsight the $25 investment would have saved me a bundle.

I had the surge protector for less than a month when it came up missing at a state park where we stayed a week. I never noticed it gone until we were packing up to leave. It could have been lifted by anyone.

Do you think this is a common occurrence? Should I be suspect of every camper around me? I don’t want to be paranoid, but now I lock up everything I own. I won’t even go to the trash without locking the trailer door. Has this lowlife thief ruined me for my entire RV life? —Ripped Off in Richmond

Dear Ripped:
Let this experience be a lesson, not an anchor. Forget it and move on. Taking precautions and using common sense is your best bet, but don’t let one bad egg ruin your whole barrel of fun.

There is a lot of crime even in the places you feel most secure. Yellowstone and some of the other large National Parks have their own jails. The bad guys know people let their guard down in camping areas and often find easy pickings.

There is a reason surge guard manufacturers sell those little lock boxes. They help keep the honest people honest. A better idea if you are buying a new one is to try the model that you wire in directly. They are a bit cheaper and a simple install. With that model your investment isn’t hung out on your electric post screaming, “Steal me.”

It’s a pain to lock everything up in anticipation of the small percentage of dishonest people you will run into in park settings. I tend to lock storage areas with expensive tools and toys. Everything else I leave unlocked until I park in non-park settings. You have to find your comfort level. Good luck. —Keep Smilin’, Richard Mallery a.k.a. Dr. R.V. Shrink

Can’t get enough of the Shrink? Read his e-book: Dr. R.V. Shrink: Everything you ever wanted to know about the RV Lifestyle but were afraid to ask or check out his other e-books.


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4 years ago

We realized that the manufacturer did not included a surge protector in our rig, guess I had to spend another 250k. So we had the option, in our class A to buy a portable one or spend the extra $$ having it installed in the electrical compartment. I felt I was a no brained. Why would I want to spend $ AGAIN if u was so fortunate to have our external surge protector ripped off. I know not everyone is able to put in an internal unit, but taking the time and $ to protect it , isn’t it worth a piece of mind!?

Mike Sokol(@mike)
4 years ago

There’s a mindset/philosophy that if you have two of something, and I have none of something, that I can take one of your things so we each now have one and are equal. This philosophy even extends into some houses of worship, and I’ve had discussions about this with a few would be thieves that I caught in the act. Sadly, the only places I’ve had microphones and stands stolen have been in churches where I was teaching music mixing seminars. And yes, the pastors explained that same philosophy to me. As in, “you’re so rich you can afford to buy another microphone”. Give me a break, stealing is stealing.

gerald fuller
4 years ago

I lock up most of the stuff outside and post video monitored signs. I’ve still had a few thefts though all of them have been caught so far. At the Missions park in San Antonio, TX my cameras even provided evidence for the arrest of the thief who broke the passenger window of the car next to me to steal the purse under the seat. The perp hid in the trees across the road and watched where ladies hid their valueables. If allowed I give the thief the option of apologize and pay double the cost of the item had they gotten away with it.

4 years ago

I use 5 chainlink around the surge protector and my cord, secured with a “D” ring. I use liquid Steel Bond to disable the “D” ring from being unscrewed. Then I use a strong lock to lock both “D” rings together. SO far so good

4 years ago

Make a cable out of stainless cable cant cut it very easy.Need a torch.

Jay French
4 years ago

Eric Eltinge made the best most accurate comment but what he knows about California can very well be expressed everywhere except in the “Resort” campgrounds where you may encounter another “Camper” who is a jealous Sneak Thief.
I avoid the Resorts, often camp in National Forests, along a Beach or beside a Lake.
This means being subject to a far larger number of Cruising Thieves who have a “Buddy” with a Flea Market stall anxious to sell stolen items.
These will grab detached canopy’s, chairs, barbecues, surge protectors & they have been known to carry bolt cutters in their old trucks.
I have learned to make my possessions easier to spot, bought an engraving kit & use bright orange florescent spray paint on the legs of items like barbecue, chairs, canopy, tables.
Fully realize this bright orange look is not as visually appealing but have taken care to match the look & have never lost an item that was painted in this fashion since thieves realize such a stolen item does not bring as large a price & is very easily spotted at a distance.

4 years ago

I use a MasterLock Python Cable to secure mine to the post. It’s not ultimate security like a bank vault, but I can’t carry one of those around with me either. 2 years now and no trouble with the lock or with thieves

Bob Godfrey
4 years ago

As soon as I purchased my used surge protector I went to the hardware store and had the gent make up a coated wire cable which I had him swage onto the neck of the surge protector so I can wrap the cable around or to the power pedestal & secure it with a padlock. I lock everything when I leave the RV even to go to the dumpster. I simply don’t trust folks anymore that’s all!

4 years ago

Assuming your cord retracts (nondetachable) like mine, just a long shank padlock around surge and RV cables works as well as those boxes. Theives will go elsewhere before bothering to dismantle the plugs.

Similarly, many surge units have replaceable plugs, in which case you can replace the RV’s plug with the surge itself – “built in” but external. Just make sure you can secure your now oversize plug.

4 years ago

I used to do as Ken S does and leave my surge protector inside the bin and use an extension cord to the power post. However, several years ago I was warned by some RV service techs that keeping the surge protector inside a bin or hard-wiring it is a dangerous practice. If there is a strong surge, the protector can be burned up and cause a fire in your rig. They showed me an example of a surge protector that was burned up. Now I leave mine outside but am always a bit nervous about having it stolen. It’s a tough call. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were no thieves???

Eric Eltinge
4 years ago

In CA, with 25% of the nation’s homeless and millions of illegal aliens and drug addicts, everything can and will be stolen for a “nickel” bag tonight. They’ll even steal your cute little guard dog. Watch for cruising guys in old pickups. They don’t exactly belong in high end campgrounds.

Ron Cook
4 years ago

I bought one to build in. It’s not hard to do and it means I can’t forget to use it or take it with me and no one else can take it with them. The cost is about the same as an external one and I can remove it if I wish when I go to sell the RV. It also means I can see the state of the power and any faults inside the RV.

Ken S
4 years ago

I just leave the surge protector in the basement with the plug through the electrical cord cutout and use a 50 foot extension to run from the power box to the RV. I can lock the basement and nobody even knows it’s there.

4 years ago

I use one of those heavy plastic coated bike lock cables…the heavier the better..and a long shank padlock wrapped around the pedestal and the long shanks go around the EMS cable locking it tightly to the pedestal.If a thief wants it bad enough they will cut the cable,but it will stop most of them.

4 years ago

Even the plastic lock box covered surge protectors are not always safe. All it does is discourage easy theft, but won’t deter a determined thief. Last year we were in numerous state and regional/national campgrounds where warnings were posted about generator thieves being active in the area.

If it has a value … it is subject to theft. The level of safeguards you choose only protects against certain ‘levels’ of thieves. 2 years ago we parked in a space directly in front of the registration/gift shop building at Denali NP. When I did the normal walk around, everything was good. 20 minutes later we walked out to find the leather jack stand cover (w/drawstring) was now in someone else’s possession. Someone risked theft charges for a $9 cover … go figure …

Wayne Caldwell
4 years ago
Reply to  Roy

They ‘sold’ their integrity for all of $9.00 Now each time they look at that cover they are reminded that they stole it from someone else.
Very simple — if it ain’t yours, leave it alone!