Sunday, February 2, 2014

Don't worry, be happy

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

Dear Nelly:
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

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

It is far easier to 'keep' something than it is to try to 'get it back'

Anonymous said...

I have a dummy key made...unable to start the car..just unlock the wheel.

Billy Bones said...

If your car has a chipped security key, have a locksmith cut you a non-chipped key. It will turn the cylinder to unlock the steering wheel but without the chip, the toad cannot be started.

George said...

Besides "....don’t leave expensive electronic devices out in the open...", don't even leave a few quarters visible. Some thieves will smash a car window for two quarters. They don't care.

Anonymous said...

We have locks on our tow hitch so that the car cannot be disconnected from the motorhome - and we lock the car.

Anonymous said...

My understanding is if your keys was in vehicle at the time it was stolen, your insurance will not cover this loss. Over the years I have heard of victims losing to insurance company, they refused to pay for the loss because the owner left the keys in the vehicle. (does not have to be in ignition, anywhere in vehicle)

So my rule is never leave the keys in the car. Too big of a lost for me. (of course, all this is base on you policy)

Mark said...

I never leave a key in the ignition overnight. On some occasions when stopping for groceries or a break, if I leave the rig I leave the key in the ignition but lock the car. I do the same thing when driving through cities making frequent stops at traffic lights. I have heard of thieves who will open a car door when an rv'er is stopped at a traffic light. I have a spare key in the MH at all times. Spare keys without chips which only operate door locks and turn the cylinders in the ignition without starting the car, are available for a small price. I'd rather not have to deal with my insurance company because of my carelessness.

Anonymous said...

The key only unlocks the steering wheel. It you feel threatened I would think that you could drive a short distance with the steering wheel locked.

Carol Love said...

We always lock the toad after we have completed the process for towing. That way we have no concerns about someone trying to get into the car when we are not looking. Had never thought about the possibility of having a problem with insurance in case of a claim.

Anonymous said...

We have a jeep wrangler 1995 softtop and travel with the key so the wheel turns. I have locks on the tow bar and the hitch so trying to steal the car while connected to the RV is not happening. We leave nothing in the Toad and the door unlocked so no one feels they need to knife the soft doors or windows. Never had a problem since one look at the two locks and you can see starting the Toad will do nothing.

Billy Bones said...

Does anyone else have this situation? I have a 2002 Jeep Liberty. I love how easy it is to setup for towing. One strange thing is, when I unlock the steering wheel I can remove the key from the ignition. The wheel stays unlocked when the key is removed solving the problem of leaving the key in the car while towing.