By Sam Suva
For the most part, the campgrounds and resorts we stayed at were safe, and almost no major incidents of theft were reported. I say “major,” although any theft is really difficult to have to endure. In our tenure, we have had fishing poles, personal items from campsites and golf carts stolen from the campgrounds where we worked.
Of course, campgrounds have had theft of company funds as well. These types of thefts can easily reach into the tens of thousands of dollars. In each case, staff, managers and owners were alerted and a full accounting of the items were disclosed. In some cases, the police were informed.
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How does a work camper handle theft? Is it theft from the campground or from guests? Are the item(s) of significant value? Is the information from the victim, or is it secondhand?
Primarily, staff are the first step in working through the process after theft. Staff need to remain professional, attentive, responsive and hospitable during this issue. The guest or staff member reporting will most likely be upset, and rightly so. Staff sympathizes with the report and works to obtain relevant information, then makes the appropriate contacts and supports the guest.
“Just the facts, Ma’am.” As staff, we actively listen for the information about the incident through any emotions, speculation and gossip. We do NOT take this issue for granted. We do NOT jump to conclusions. We do NOT challenge whomever may be indicated as the possible suspect.
We listen in order to direct the victim to the proper resources. If it is major, we direct them to contact the police, their insurance company and the owner of the items stolen, in the event that the items were not the property of the person making the claim. If staff are asked to contact the owner of potentially stolen items, the manager needs to be informed and they will proceed with contact.
Campground staff are NOT the police. We do NOT investigate beyond making sure that the items are not simply misplaced or have been moved. If it is an armload of firewood or a small-ticket item that is carried in the campground store, we can contact the manager when appropriate and ask whether we can simply replace it. I have had campers come up to me and claim wheel chocks, charcoal starter fluid and ratchet straps have been stolen. I usually keep spares – I have found it is a better camping experience for the guest to offer to replace these items.
Theft is an unfortunate reality in our world – we can do little to prevent a determined person from stealing our property. In an upcoming article we will discuss how to minimize our exposure to theft while camping.
Have you experienced theft in a campground or resort? While we certainly hope not, we would be interested to hear about your experiences in the comments below.
See you down the road,
Sam Suva and his wife are work campers. They began work camping more than 10 years ago and have spent a lot of time working as they traveled. In this new weekly feature, they will share their experiences with you, with an emphasis on how to incorporate work camping into a full time RV lifestyle.