Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We travel in a Class “C” motorhome and pull a small sedan. My husband is always paranoid that someone is going to steal the car. If we stop for the night at a Walmart or other stopover, he pulls the keys. I think we should leave them in the ignition in the correct position so that if we have to leave in the middle of the night we do not have to exit the motorhome. His arguments are that the battery can drain and someone might be tempted to steal the car when they see the keys. I say let them have the car. It would be more dangerous to go out in the middle of the night and fool with it. Am I the one being paranoid? Do most people lock everything down at night? Should we both just “chill” and not worry so much?
--Nervous Nelly and Bullheaded Bill in Biloxi
RV travel should first and foremost be relaxing and enjoyable. There is no guarantee you are not going to be a crime victim whether you are traveling or at home at the mall. I have only met one couple that lost their toad. They stopped to shop at a Walmart in Mexico. That proves it can happen. I find most Walmarts that allow overnight camping very safe. They are well lit, have security cameras, and many even have security guards. You make a good point about not having to exit the motorhome in the middle of the night if asked to leave a site. If someone were up to no good, they could easily decommission your vehicles some other way. If they are after your toad they are probably going to get it one way or another.
My personal mode of operation is to leave the toad in the tow positions. That means the key is in the ignition. With a good battery you should be able to drive a few days without draining the battery, but a simple kill switch is cheap insurance. It not only insures you will not drain your battery, it is also another deterrence for a thief. You can make your own for about ten bucks or buy one for fifty.
I suggest you take all the precautions, then just relax. Make sure your storage doors are locked, your car is locked, don’t leave expensive electronic devices out in the open, and be alert to any situation that doesn’t feel right.
We spend most months every year on the road and have never had an incident. When making time or a pit stop for groceries we have stayed at many non-campground parking areas. We talk to other RVers every day. I seldom hear of any problems. Again, life offers no guarantees, but don’t dwell on being a victim. If you find that you are not comfortable in these sites it might be easier on you to always find official camping sites.
If you read the comments for this column you will most likely find others sharing their procedures and predicaments.
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink