With more and more adventurers entering the world of RVing and other forms of camping, it’s not unlikely that crime will begin to creep upwards at campsites. Unfortunately, the daily news reminds us that criminal minds can be anywhere. It’s okay to have suspicious minds, but RVers/campers don’t need to go full-on paranoid if you, the storage operator, can provide them with a little guidance for protecting themselves on the road and in campgrounds.
Newcomers to camping most often worry about getting their gear and other belongings swiped from their site while they’re sleeping, or making a run to the local convenience store or simply taking a hike. The fear is warranted to some degree, but a straw poll conducted by RV Lifestyle on Facebook received more than 200 comments from campers who said, “I’ve never had a problem.”
While that’s reassuring, for the greatest peace of mind, every camper should be aware of key steps they can take to reduce the threat of theft while vacationing in the great outdoors.
Keep it clean
The first thing to tell tenants: “Don’t make it easy for criminals to ruin your camping experience.” The rules to stay safe on the road and in the wild are often rules of common sense. Most thieves are pretty lazy and on the hunt for easy prey. Remind your tenants to always think before they head off to bed or off to play, making sure to put precious belongings out of sight. If they can see their toys spread all around the campsite, so will thieves. Untethered belongings are as good as gone.
In short, tell campers put everything away, or at least everything you want to keep. While it may not be worth the time to hide a portable table or cheap camping chairs, easy-to-grab stoves, grills and newfangled gadgets, as well as smart phones, laptops and expensive technology will disappear faster than a sneeze. Key reminder: Don’t tempt a thief!
Batten down the hatches
Too often, campers take on a free and easy attitude when they’re out in the fresh air and feeling good. It’s easy to forget that safety rules at home need to apply in the great outdoors. And oftentimes it’s the most obvious safety measures that go overlooked.
Remind your tenants that once they put everything away, they should check to make sure all locks have clicked into place, including towing vehicles, campers and RV storage compartments. Car thieves and campsite criminals will nearly always check the locks. Tell your tenants to lock everything possible, and double check that they’re secure.
Bandits love bikes
Mountain biking is at an all-time high, and so are the profit margins for thieves. Bikes are hot-ticket items on the black market, easily stolen and painted, and sold off to new owners. Just like a good RV, they cost tenants dearly, so bike owners want to protect them at all costs.
If your tenants don’t already know the best way to secure their bikes when their out on a trip, do them the justice of running through the steps: A sturdy steel U-lock is the best line of defense and should be hooked around the frame, front and rear tire of the bike to an immovable object. Cable locks are second best, but they’re easiest for thieves to cut.
For added safety, tell bike owners to use a U-lock and a cable. Note: Storage operators might want to sell these items in the office and reap the rewards of ancillary profits.
Be too cool to be schooled
Everyone likes a good cooler, but it’s what’s on the inside that counts the most for criminals. Expensive coolers should be out of sight and out of mind for thirsty thieves. Remind tenants that teenagers can easily be prowling around the parks at night, looking for a good time. A heavy cooler may not be in too much danger, but a sweet little Yeti and a handful of beers will be.
Don’t let your tenants add to underage drinking; tell them to secure all spirits before nodding off to sleep. And, as an added measure, never leave coolers near walking paths within the campground, where passersby can easily help themselves without missing a step.
Dogged determination can pay off
Anyone who’s ever spent a night at a busy campground has probably lost sleep because of a barking dog. Dogs are the cheapest and often most effective way to alert campers when criminals are foraging for grab-n-go goodies from a campsite. Of course, dog owners need to make sure their best friends are not roaming at will, but barking when necessary can save the day, or night–especially if the barking scares away thieves.
Remind your storage tenants that a bark is always better than a bite, and if their pooch cost a pretty penny and is the size of a cat, they could be snagged as fast as a flashlight. You might want to advise them to keep beloved fur-balls out of harm’s way in close-quarters at night.
Let there be light
Consider telling tenants that motion sensor lights can be easily installed just about anywhere and deter just about anyone who’s taking steps toward no-good. Advise them to make sure the light doesn’t also disturb nearby campers. Another safety tip is to set up camp near park lighting systems, close to the restrooms or main office. (Hint: Don’t forget to sell sensor lights in the office, too.)
Last but not least
RV owners who’ve invested their hard-earned money should be easily convinced to invest in an equally good RV security system. There is a wide variety of systems available within many price points. RVers can spend thousands or hundreds; some tools are even under $100 and will alert campers when doors or windows are being compromised. It may be a no-brainer by now, but some of these high-tech, low-dollar gadgets could be sold right in your onsite ancillary shop.
As a storage operator, you do everything within your power to keep tenants’ toys secure when not in use, so it only makes sense to give them great advice while they’re out on adventures, too. Take these words of wisdom to your place of business, and your tenants, grateful for your service, will likely patronize your business for many years to come.