This past weekend a friend of mine had his truck vandalized while parked at a public boat landing. Four years ago my truck’s window was smashed and thieves quickly escaped with hundreds of dollars worth of personal items while my family was geocaching in a suburban city park. Back a decade or so ago, another buddy lost a shotgun from his truck while he was out-of-sight walking a slough hunting for pheasants. Needless to say we all learned important lessons from each of these incidents. Become careless in your actions and you’ll likely count yourself as the next victim of crime.
It’s disheartening! It’s aggravating! It’s often a major inconvenience! When you come to the realization that your property has been violated a person experiences the whole gamut of emotions. Forget about the notion these things always happen to somebody else. That sort of thinking may be true, until you’re the one getting copies of police reports, filing insurance claims, or worse yet, dealing with the loss of property holding great sentimental value.
There’s probably no sure way to prevent vandalism to unattended vehicles while enjoying the outdoors, but there are a few tips you can employ to help reduce the probable occurrence:
- NEVER LEAVE PERSONAL ITEMS IN PLAIN SIGHT. Most often thieves will check out your vehicle’s windows first to see what property may be of potential value inside. For instance, a center console tray containing a handful of coins may be enticing enough for the vandals to smash a $700+ window. Hide ALL items that may be perceived as having value to someone else.
- CHOOSE YOUR PARKING SPOT WITH GREAT CARE. Is it possible to park so you can have a visual of your vehicle when on the lake or from the woods? If so, park accordingly with this strategy in mind. Otherwise, park closer to where the action is (i.e. boat ramp) so would-be thieves must deal more directly with the public’s eye.
- ROUTINELY CHECK THE PARKING LOT FOR GLASS. After a vehicle break-in there is usually quite a mess remaining on the ground in the form of small pieces of tempered window glass. If you observe lots of remnant window glass on the ground in your next potential parking spot, this should raise your suspicion whether or not this is a safe location to leave your vehicle.
- CONSIDER INSTALLING AN ALARM SYSTEM. While an alarm might not be fool-proof, for some opportunity seeking thieves it can serve as a definite deterrent.
- INSTALL A LOCK-BOX. If guns or valuables must be left in an unattended vehicle, install a lockable box that can be permanently mounted to the vehicle.
- OBSERVE FOR SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITY. Many times the eventual thieves might be in the parking lot at the same time you are. Learn to follow your gut instincts even if it means somehow being inconvenienced by moving on to a new location.
- INSTALL A LOCKING GAS CAP. Not only does this prevent expensive gas from easily being siphoned, but it can stop other forms of vehicle shenanigans.
- JOT DOWN LICENSE PLATE NUMBERS. It only takes a minute or two, but the plate numbers of other vehicles in the parking area could eventually prove to be either witnesses or leads. Sometimes this may be all you have to go on.
With some prudent caution before you take to the field or waters, you can reduce the chances of becoming yet another victim of crime. Learn from those of us who unfortunately have experienced this form of opportunistic crime…nothing feels worse than spending a relaxing day outdoors then suddenly being forced to deal with a damaged vehicle and stolen property.
© 2009 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.