Statistically speaking, you are much more likely to be a victim in your own home than in your RV. Here’s why:
First – A RV is much less tempting to a thief than a permanent residence, it is unlikely to contain the same amount of easily pawned appliances, jewelry or other valuables that can be easily converted to cash.
Second – Boondocking off a back country public road makes you no more of a target for a crook than anyone who lives in a home on a remote country road.
Third – Criminals are opportunists, they apply their craft where there is maximum opportunity such as urban areas, campgrounds and other locations people congregate. Think about it, why would a criminal trek miles out in the middle of nowhere with the anticipation of finding someone camped in the boonies to victimize.
If the above three facts aren’t enough to alleviate your fear and safety concerns. Let’s look at some steps you can take to further minimize the odds of being victimized in the boondocks and put your mind at ease:
– Place a sticker on your RV to indicate that an alarm system or guard dog is contained in your
rig. Better yet, install a 12 volt alarm or take Fido RVing with you. A dog makes a great alarm
system and no criminal wants to be bitten by one.
– When boondocking alone, put two chairs, an extra pair of large men’s shoes and a large dog
dish outside your RV door as shown in the photo below.
– Park where there is cell phone service when possible.
– If you are a motorhome owner, keep the jacks up, awning in and your RV ready to roll. If you are ever threatened you can just jump in the driver’s seat and leave.
– If your RV is equipped with a remote key fob, keep it readily available. The panic button would scare off most any criminal. The honking horn and flashing lights can be seen / heard for miles.
– Carry a device like a Spot Messenger or DeLorme inReach. Both allow you to summon help where cell phone coverage in unavailable.
Finally – Talk to other RVers that disperse camp on a regular basis. They will gladly share their experiences and recommendations for camping in the boondocks, you will quickly learn there is nothing to fear.
Note: Many RVers arm themselves with a firearm or less lethal protection such as mace, bear spray, pepper spray or wasp spray. There are legal ramifications for using / possessing each of these items, so know the laws and act responsibly.
Dave Helgeson’s many roles in the RV industry started before he even had a driver’s license. His grandparents and father owned an RV dealership before the term “RV” had been coined, and Dave played a pivotal role in nearly every position of an RV dealership. He and his wife Cheri launched their own RV dealership in the Pacific Northwest. The duo also spent 29 years overseeing regional RV shows. Dave has also served as President of a local chapter of the Recreational Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA), worked on the board of advisors for the RV Technician Program of a local technical college, and served as a board member of the Manufactured Home and RV Association. Dave’s reputation earned him the title of “The foremost expert on boondocking,” bestowed by RV industry icon, the late Gary Bunzer (The RV Doctor). When he’s not out boondocking, you’ll find Dave in the spotlight at RV shows across the country, giving seminars about all things RVing. He and Cheri currently roam in their fifth travel trailer, with Dave doing all the service, repair and modifications to his own unit.
Thomas Seim says
There is one more thing you can do: arm yourself. If you are really boondocking the response time from law enforcement (assuming you have cell service) will be, at least, 30 minutes, maybe a lot more. Personally, I chose to arm myself after retiring as I believe that people with RVs are identified as having significant cash and are incapable of self defense (older). We all stop at rest stops, that can be very remote, that are magnets for criminals (bunch of strangers coming and going, and quick escape routes). Check the laws in each state you are travelling thru regarding what firearms are permitted and how they must be stored. Here are a few resources on this subject:
If you chose to arm yourself by all means get professional training on how to use firearms for self-defense. If you chose not to arm yourself at least get an NRA sticker to put on your RV (criminals hate armed victims even more than dogs).
Thomas, I don’t consider staying in rest stops dispersed camping in the boondocks. But as mentioned in my blog, anywhere people congregate (including rest stops) are places where criminals apply their trade. I agree 100% with you, if you choose to carry a firearm, get trained, know how to use it and know the law!
David Brockett says
Nice article Dave! My wife and I volunteered with the USFS in Wyoming Wind River Range for several years, including two as rangers. We monitored dispersed campsites for the usual (unmonitored fires, food left out and other bear attractants). In all that time I can’t recall anyone being victimized by either theft or assault. We saw unaccompanied females as well as senior citizens safely boon docking in beautiful, secluded sites. I agree it pays to be prepared for the underbelly of human nature but I certainly wouldn’t let that stop me from enjoying the beauty of a secluded natural setting!
The only people we saw injured were victims of their own bad judgement.
Dave Helgeson - Adventures in RVing says
David, Thanks for sharing.