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Old 09-26-2018, 04:24 PM   #1
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Safety and security issues when camping?

Reading up around the Web, I've noticed that a lot of skoolie people seem to present security as some of their largest concerns when doing anything. Huge focus on stealth camping, worries about other folks in camping areas. Things like that.

I've been camping in one form or another for nigh-on 40 years and haven't ever run into anything that made me feel like I needed to fear my fellow campers. Quite the opposite, I've found other people in camping areas to be warm, friendly, and welcoming more often than not.

My wife and I have been trying to track down concrete examples of those kinds of issues and coming up a little dry. Stolen skoolies, sure. A couple break-ins and one creeper rattling the door only to be rebuffed by the camper's doggos. But nothing like a band of Reavers coming out of the Firefly universe and laying waste to an entire family as is whispered about and held up as the reason security needs to be tighter than a nuclear submarine hatch.

Is this just a case of me being lucky/privileged in my experiences, has there been a change in the camping scene overall, or is that just a niche concern that seems amplified because of the medium of the Internet?
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Old 09-27-2018, 02:02 AM   #2
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Iíve camped my whole life and havenít experienced anything like that either. I find fellow campers to be like family. Helpful, inviting you over to their camp, easy to get along with. I canít nine weeks this past summer, and my Skoolie, from Florida to Washington state and back. Spent about a third of those nights in state and national parks, four nights in privately owned campgrounds and the rest in pilot/flying J truckstop parking lots. No problems whatsoever.
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Old 09-27-2018, 08:52 AM   #3
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I haven't had any concerns camping and only a few times in 20 years as an over the road truck driver. I think a campground would be one of the safest places to park. Locks and security devices only keep the honest people out.

I wonder if perhaps, the break in concerns are about when the bus is parked in some questionable place when not being used for camping/living. I've read a lot more about buses getting vandalized/broken into while at some storage facility.

I also think that you see more stories because instead of it being some small local news item it now gets read by someone and it immediately gets shared on some sort of social media to people who have some of the same general interests such as this forum.
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Old 09-27-2018, 09:09 AM   #4
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If I only camped in government parks, paid campgrounds, and Flying J's and Wally World parking lots, I wouldn't worry too much, either, except in the latter case, about cops hassling me for sleeping in my vehicle in a city...they don't like homeless people as we don't pay their local taxes.

But when I'm out in the woods, who knows? Surely I feel safer than anywhere in any city. I am weary of bears and cougars out west. But the only thing I really FEAR is another human, especially one with a gun, who intends for me or my stuff to be the victim. Bears, cougars, disease carrying mosquitoes; they are all relatively predictable. Crazy people, especially with the whacked out tweekers now-a-days, keep me at least aware of my surroundings.

However, that said, who breaks into a bus? The only time I ever heard of it was....a whacked out dude, likely a tweeker, in my old home-town of Hilo, who twice in 2 weeks stole a transit bus, drove it around town, and wrecked them both.

Camping on the beach in Puerto Escondido, Mexico in 1995, sleeping in the sugar sand with my 4x4 truck 100 feet away, we woke before midnight to 5 guys in uniforms with long guns (most likely Federalies, but it was too dark to tell), demanding money for "protection" from "banditos." I screwed up and had 80 pesos in my pocket - about $15 U.S. dollars worth, which they got. My friend was about pooping in his pants, but I wasn't scared. When they asked for the "big bills," he told me to give them them up. I told him we just broke the last one at the bar in town that night, and to show them his ATM card; he did and they backed off. Then they wanted our boom-box radio. My friend grew balls, and said "hell no!" (our source of sanity!), and they backed right off. Afterwards, my friend said he thought they would just shoot and kill us and dump us in the ocean. "No," I said, "too messy, and not good for the tourist trade: no tourists, no one to rob!" Plus, why would they wake us and our dogs just to shoot us for cash?
After that, I put my truck in 4-wheel drive, and drove down the beach for 20 minutes, away from the pavement, and we slept soundly for the next two weeks. Cops like that are lazy....
Two days later, a retired German couple pulled into the spot with their RV towed by a full-size pickup. Their thing was going south from Canada to Central America in the winter, and back during the summer. We warned them of the Federalies, and they asked us to camp back at the pavement's end with them, saying the cops don't mess with groups of people. We reluctantly agreed, but stayed out drinking till almost 11:00pm that night. When we got back, the German guy came out and told us the cops already came by....he met them at his door with a machete. They said "you are one old man with a knife, we are 5 guys with guns. What are you going to do?" He said to them (in Spanish) "I was a German fighter plane pilot in WWII. I was shot down behind the lines twice. I have faced death more than any of you will ever know, and you are not getting a penny from us." They told him to have a nice evening, and left.
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Old 09-27-2018, 09:28 AM   #5
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Ditto for me - no problems.

Lots of folks like to fear lots of things. I think it's best if everyone stays in large cities in the east. The west is very dangerous, just like you see in old movies.
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Old 09-27-2018, 10:43 AM   #6
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So far no problems personally, however people on various Facebook groups have reported problems. Plenty of tales of vandalism and theft of property. Broken windows and door glass, solar panels stolen or destroyed, generators stolen, etc. And it's not just in shady parts of towns, generator theft reports seem to be most common in parks.

I'm taking basic precautions. A nice lock on the back door, locks on all storage areas, no easy/obvious way to access the roof. You may always be a target but you don't have to be an easy target.

I don't think the west is any more dangerous than the east, but everyone's comfort level will be different. If you don't leave your keys in your ignition when you leave your bus, you're already worrying about security issues!
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Old 09-28-2018, 10:39 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OtterMaddness View Post
Reading up around the Web, I've noticed that a lot of skoolie people seem to present security as some of their largest concerns when doing anything. Huge focus on stealth camping, worries about other folks in camping areas. Things like that.

I've been camping in one form or another for nigh-on 40 years and haven't ever run into anything that made me feel like I needed to fear my fellow campers. Quite the opposite, I've found other people in camping areas to be warm, friendly, and welcoming more often than not.

My wife and I have been trying to track down concrete examples of those kinds of issues and coming up a little dry. Stolen skoolies, sure. A couple break-ins and one creeper rattling the door only to be rebuffed by the camper's doggos. But nothing like a band of Reavers coming out of the Firefly universe and laying waste to an entire family as is whispered about and held up as the reason security needs to be tighter than a nuclear submarine hatch.

Is this just a case of me being lucky/privileged in my experiences, has there been a change in the camping scene overall, or is that just a niche concern that seems amplified because of the medium of the Internet?
Bears will definitely get into anything that isn't well secured if there is food or even yummy smelling stuff inside. They can cause a LOT of damage just trying to get at the food. I have a friend whose refrigerator door was ripped off. They are pretty dexterous so they don't normally ruin the fridge, but they almost never close the door when they are done so all the food gets ruined. I have never had problems with my vehicle near trail heads or while camping but I have friends that have and there was a rash of thefts/break ins from vehicles near me a couple of years ago. You won't stop someone who is determined, but you can secure your vehicle and hope they choose an easier target.
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Old 09-28-2018, 11:47 AM   #8
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^^ you don't have to outrun the bear, you just have to outrun your buddy.
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Old 09-30-2018, 10:31 AM   #9
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^^ you don't have to outrun the bear, you just have to outrun your buddy.


Lol, thatís funny
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Old 10-13-2018, 06:27 PM   #10
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Iím slowly covering my windows in cage wire. Owning a bus in the city presents special issues like broken windows and vandalism.
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Old 10-13-2018, 07:56 PM   #11
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Crime is going down but we humans like drama so we gravitate toward it, the news obliges our curiosity and the internet makes it even easier to see stuff from miles away. I am reading a book by Hans Rosling called Factfulness, the stats are amazing. There is a TED talk by Steve Pinker that lists everything as well. Be carefull and have fun, were only here for a short visit.
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Old 03-08-2019, 12:39 AM   #12
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I donít think a skoolie with good locks is less secure than a house, but vehicles are targets more than houses. I donít park my house in strange places either trust people, lock your shiz.
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Old 03-22-2019, 03:43 PM   #13
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I find it interesting that someone mentioned they would feel safe inside a city. I live in Portland and would NEVER want to park and stay the night in a bus. There are SO many homeless people here that can and will break into your bus. I've had my car broken into in my own drive way as well as people beating on my doors and windows at night.
I'd feel way safer out in the woods any day of the week.

In fact that is our plan. We are hoping to buy 5-10 acres in Washington, Montana, Nevada, & Colorado. Maybe not all of them. We will see. We want to winter a bit more southern than Montana and Washington. Anyways, my point is that cities don't necessarily equal safe. Really just depends on the city. Same goes for forests and woodland areas. Just depends on where you are.
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Old 04-11-2019, 06:39 PM   #14
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I've been on the road for a little over 2 years now, mostly in a van but a Skoolie for the last 3 months. Coast to coast, but majority western states. I camp in national forests mostly, but have done some urban stuff. I've not had any real problems, but had one bad experience in Eugene Or. in a case of mistaken identity and recently in Prescott NF where a religious zealot woke me in the middle of the night to read me a bible passage. I feel safe in the forest, but not so much in urban areas. I think the key is to not visibly display anything of value and to be aware of your surroundings.
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