From break-ins to shootings to RV park bomb scares, almost every day another campground crime story garners headlines. At first glance one might conclude that criminals are rampant in the great outdoors. Ask other RVers about their campground crime experiences and new insights are likely to occur.
Real Tales of Campground Crime: Shooters, Robbers and Vandals
While camping gets people back to nature, it seems that even good campgrounds are ground zero for violent, illicit activity. The national campground crime blotter looked like this during summer:
September 14, Northern California:
As reported in the Napa Valley Register, a couple goes camping near Napa at Lake Berryessa. At about 1:30 am they awake to the sound of smashing glass. They later learned what happened: their brand new smart car was demolished by campground thugs.
September 7, South Carolina:
The Independent Mail reported that two men carjacked a camper’s pickup truck at gunpoint and stole his cell phone. The man wasn’t even done setting up his campsite when the crime occurred.
August 23, Ontario, Canada:
Also, Canadians aren’t immune to crime in the outdoors either. An armed camper barricaded himself inside his trailer at a campground in Ontario’s Bay of Quinte region. The Quinte News learned the Ontario SWAT team rushed to the campground, broke into the trailer and disarmed the potential shooter.
August 20, Illinois:
According to www.wifr.com, a group of courageous campers in Rockton, IL. stopped a shooter at a campground by tackling him and grabbing his gun. The alleged gunman began firing when a site fee collector asked for money.
July 2, Massachusetts:
At a Salisbury, MA, campground the Eagle Tribune reported a drunk man assaulted a female RVer. According to news reports, the woman was in her trailer when a stranger barged inside without permission. Reporters say he “told her that he found her attractive and then asked if she had any cocaine. The victim told him to leave several times but he refused.”
How Many RVers are Really Crime Victims?
The list of campground crimes goes on into infinity. In an age of instantaneous reporting, acts of violence are reported almost as quickly as they occur. However, when RVers examine camping crime in community settings like the iRV2 Discussion Forums, the vast majority of respondents say they have never been a campground crime victim.
Just curious? Has anyone experienced a face to face robbery, late night break-in ( while in residence), or any major crime, personally, while RVing . . . Have you been mugged, robbed, broken into while in your MH?” — jamesvinton
Out of 51 responses for this discussion, only two people stated they were directly touched by crime while RVing. One couple was “indirectly” held up for $40 at a gas station. The other almost happened in an Oregon campground:
Late that night after going to sleep the dog started to growl and awoke my wife. She raised the blind and saw someone attempting to steal gas from our rig. She yelled loudly for me to get my gun and the thief jumped in a car and took off. — bdpreece
Furthermore, in both cases, nobody was physically harmed. A random iRV2 Forums search for “Campground and RV Park Crime” reveals many more similar discussions with little anecdotal evidence that campers are increasingly at risk in the great outdoors. What these conversations also reveal are RVers who know how to balance crime prevention strategies while still having fun RVing. Here’s how one camper plays it safe:
“I lock my bikes (expensive) and put away valuables (to include tools, electronic gadgets, and my favorite insulated beverage container). I do have locks on my tow bar and Jeep gas cap (need to get locking caps for the coach). — JFNM
If You See Something, Call Authorities
Additionally, removing temptations from your campsite when you’re away from the RV is a must. In addition, crime experts say it’s equally urgent to remain vigilant wherever you roam. Among other crime reporting recommendations the U.S. Department of Homeland Security says if you see anything suspicious, call authorities and provide:
- Brief description of the activity
- Date, time and location of the activity
- Physical identifiers of anyone you observed
- Descriptions of vehicles
- Information about where people involved in suspicious activities may have gone
- Your name and contact information (optional)
In an upcoming post watch for crime prevention tips from the experts and other RVers.
Have you ever been a victim of campground crime? Let us know in the comments area below.
Rene Agredano and her husband, Jim Nelson, became full-time RVers in 2007 and have been touring the country ever since. In her blog, Rene chronicles the ins and outs of the full-timing life and brings readers along to meet the fascinating people and amazing places they visit on the road. Her road trip adventures are chronicled in her blog at LiveWorkDream.com.
Suzanne and Jim NC USA says
My husband and I have been camping for 40 years. We have never had anything stollen or been confronted by vandals . For years we tent camped then pop up camped then about 15 years ago we got an RV. We have camped in every state except Hawaii and most of Canada .
We have had other campers ( strangers) trench our tent during a hurricane when we where unable to return to our campground. Other campers have come over when we had to do repairs and offer tools,help and materials to help us out. Help a kid who fell off his bike back to our campsite. Offer left over wood and food when they were pulling out. We even had someone bring over fried chicken late one night when we were setting up when we had had trouble getting to the campground because of bad weather. We also do the same for other campers. I traveled cross country from Texas to North Carolina to bring back “a new to us “camper when my husband could not get time off to make the trip without incident .
Bad things can happen anywhere but we are 1/2 timers and the only bad thing that has ever happened was noise from drunk campers a couple of times.
Bad things can happen anywhere but camping is safer than going to the mall.
Old Prospector says
Thank You “Suzanne” and “Jim” for such a great comment, and the insite to the lack of crime when camping or RVing. You are right, the majority of campers and RV’ers are very friendly and helpful people, and will go out of their way to help make other’s feel at home when camping or RVing.
We live on five acres in TN. My husband & I. We just bought a small camper.
Kudos to you both for being able to stay safe.
We are so scared of camp ground crime we are building a camp site in our woods.
Our neighbors are spread out & we never see people.
We went to a camp ground an we just didn’t buy that sell! Paying $80.00 for 2 trees & a slab of concrete?
Then some creep walks up to me ! We have a prettier place at home with many more trees & camping rules suck!