Car Vandalism During Cross-Country Drive

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90077
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Car Vandalism During Cross-Country Drive

Post by 90077 » Tue Mar 21, 2017 9:48 pm

Hello All,

I'm relocating from west coast to east coast in May, driving my small SUV with a full load of possessions inside (no trailer or roof rack). [OT comment removed by moderator prudent] I'm concerned about my car being broken into overnight.

Plan to stay in mid-tier motels along the major routes (never in or near any major city) but can't completely empty my car every night. Of course I plan to bring valuables into the room, but should I be concerned about leaving other personal belongings in my car? Also, am I wrong in thinking that my California plates make my car a target?

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White Coat Investor
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Re: Car Vandalism During Cross-Country Drive

Post by White Coat Investor » Tue Mar 21, 2017 9:57 pm

[OT comment removed by moderator prudent]

Lock the doors and hope for the best. Can't lose items come in the room with you.

Alternatively, rent a truck and put a lock on it.

What else can you do? Get an alarm? Hire a guard each night? Park as close to the front door as possible? Ask where the security cameras are pointed and park there? Empty the car into your room?

You could also do AirBnBs. Maybe it would be safer to be in someone's driveway than at a hotel.
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adamthesmythe
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Re: Car Vandalism During Cross-Country Drive

Post by adamthesmythe » Tue Mar 21, 2017 10:06 pm

[OT comment removed by moderator prudent]

I did roughly a similar cross-country trip during my move. The car was filled with partly fragiles (but not very valuable) and valuables (that I took into the room). I had no problems.

Goal33
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Re: Car Vandalism During Cross-Country Drive

Post by Goal33 » Tue Mar 21, 2017 10:15 pm

White Coat Investor wrote:You could also do AirBnBs. Maybe it would be safer to be in someone's driveway than at a hotel.
+1, also consider tinting your windows, limo tint in the back, and lighter in the front. Would make the drive more pleasant as well as make it slightly less obvious you have a car load of stuff.
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Millennial
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Re: Car Vandalism During Cross-Country Drive

Post by Millennial » Tue Mar 21, 2017 10:24 pm

I can't see any reason to worry about this, especially in well lit hotel parking lots.

Can you cite a source for your assertion that drug use and crime are at all time highs? I think it's irresponsible to present an opinion as fact when it seems to directly conflict with all available data.

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Doom&Gloom
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Re: Car Vandalism During Cross-Country Drive

Post by Doom&Gloom » Tue Mar 21, 2017 10:37 pm

You are already planning on bringing your valuables into the room. Just take a couple of dark blankets, sheets, etc to throw over the stuff you leave in your car.

Be judicious in selecting lodging with well-lit, open, visible parking available and use good judgment in where to park there. You should be fine.

And I don't think you are concerned about vandalism. You seem to be more concerned about a broken window and the loss of some of your less valuable possessions. And if you're driving the typical Boglecar, it likely won't attract much attention anyway--despite the California plates.

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Re: Car Vandalism During Cross-Country Drive

Post by tibbitts » Tue Mar 21, 2017 10:59 pm

I've thought about this when I've traveled, too, and can't (practically) empty the vehicle. I think you just have to be careful about where you park and take your chances - the odds are nothing bad will happen. I suppose in theory you could research crime reports for the locations, and select ones that have less of a history, but the odds are very good that you won't have a problem.

90077
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Re: Car Vandalism During Cross-Country Drive

Post by 90077 » Tue Mar 21, 2017 11:09 pm

White Coat Investor wrote: <snip>
You could also do AirBnBs. Maybe it would be safer to be in someone's driveway than at a hotel.
Thanks; AirBnB's an interesting option I hadn't thought of.

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Re: Car Vandalism During Cross-Country Drive

Post by jakepeters » Tue Mar 21, 2017 11:10 pm

Agreed, you don't have a lot of choices.

Wife and I drove separate hatchbacks (with medium-tinted windows) cross country, mostly on I-90 from Cleveland to Seattle in late 2015. This move was a relocation and all of our possessions were in the back of the two cars, mostly in moving boxes.

We stayed in low- to mid-tier hotels along the way and took our computers into our rooms at night. The boxed up contents were covered with sheets, so the cars were "full", but you could not tell what.

It got fairly cold starting in Wyoming, so maybe that helps reduce the amount of casual scrutiny our cars got while parked. They were also parked at a few national parks and other attractions during the day. No problems.

That's it. It worked for us. We didn't stay in any big cities (OK, is Milwaukee WI big?), but were in hotels near the highway for about 8-9 nights out of a 2 week trek.

JP

90077
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Re: Car Vandalism During Cross-Country Drive

Post by 90077 » Tue Mar 21, 2017 11:20 pm

Afty wrote: <snip>
If you're really concerned, you could ship your possessions. If it's only one carload worth, it shouldn't be that expensive.
Will be shipping a large ReloCube months after I relocate and buy a new place. Am also shipping separately other boxes that I can't leave in ReloCube storage for months on end. That leaves a carload of my most important items making the trip with me.

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GerryL
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Re: Car Vandalism During Cross-Country Drive

Post by GerryL » Tue Mar 21, 2017 11:33 pm

I have driven cross-country (Boston to Portland, OR) once and round the country twice. Solo. Always staying in budget motels. I arranged the trunk so that I could bring a carry-on size bag into the room with overnight stuff and fresh cloths for the AM. Computer and other valuables came into the room with me. Sometimes brought my food basket and book/map box in, too. The backseat had nothing of interest. Didn't try to hide the stuff that was visible because I didn't want anyone to think I might be hiding something of value. Of course, whenever possible try to park near your room.

90077
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Re: Car Vandalism During Cross-Country Drive

Post by 90077 » Wed Mar 22, 2017 12:23 am

Thanks adamthesmythe, Doom&Gloom, tibbitts, Jake, and Gerry for your good points and reassurances. :beer I may well FedEx more of what I'd intended to take in my car, and travel that much lighter.

Goal33, good point; my car came with rear and back window tinting. Front windows and windshield have none and given that CA probably has some of the more stringent tinting regs in the country, I don’t want to draw undue LEO attention to my car by adding dark tint at this late stage.

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Re: Car Vandalism During Cross-Country Drive

Post by livesoft » Wed Mar 22, 2017 12:46 am

Just be aware that LEO with drug-sniffing dog(s) will probably stop your car within 50 miles of leaving Colorado. Actually, the dog may be trained to score a hit, just so your car can be searched.
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CFM300
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Re: Car Vandalism During Cross-Country Drive

Post by CFM300 » Wed Mar 22, 2017 1:03 am

Can you not pack your car such that you can empty it each night? At least the visible passenger areas?

Maybe use several Roughneck storage boxes, rather than just stuffing loose items into your car.

Hauling the boxes from the car to the room (and back in the morning) might be a bit of work, but you'll need and appreciate the exercise after driving all day.

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Re: Car Vandalism During Cross-Country Drive

Post by Goal33 » Wed Mar 22, 2017 2:54 am

CFM300 wrote:Hauling the boxes from the car to the room (and back in the morning) might be a bit of work, but you'll need and appreciate the exercise after driving all day.
Lifting boxes after a long day of driving sounds like the straw that would break my back.
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Re: Car Vandalism During Cross-Country Drive

Post by obafgkm » Wed Mar 22, 2017 5:14 am

Goal33 wrote: +1, also consider tinting your windows, limo tint in the back, and lighter in the front. Would make the drive more pleasant as well as make it slightly less obvious you have a car load of stuff.
Or make it seem as if there were something that was being hidden.

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Re: Car Vandalism During Cross-Country Drive

Post by sambb » Wed Mar 22, 2017 5:55 am

if you are that worried, then ship your possessions.

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Re: Car Vandalism During Cross-Country Drive

Post by Flux » Wed Mar 22, 2017 6:22 am

I support the AirBnB suggestion. You might even find a place with a garage to park overnight. I often drive cross-country for ski trips. We take our expensive gear inside with us at night, leaving the items that could be easily replaced.

Also, I have a cheap dash cam that is motion activated when the car is off. Hasn't caught anyone yet but it's there just in case. A car alarm is also a great deterrent.

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Re: Car Vandalism During Cross-Country Drive

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Wed Mar 22, 2017 6:41 am

livesoft wrote:Just be aware that LEO with drug-sniffing dog(s) will probably stop your car within 50 miles of leaving Colorado. Actually, the dog may be trained to score a hit, just so your car can be searched.
Hand then all your single dollar bills, make life easier for them. Chances are their is some level of drug residue on the bills, be it pot, coke, meth, etc. Especially the semi nice ones.
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Re: Car Vandalism During Cross-Country Drive

Post by wilshuer » Wed Mar 22, 2017 7:21 am

Clearly label boxes with large lettering stating very non-impressive contents, such as 'Clothes, Books, Shoes, Dog Food, Grandma's Reader's Digest Collection'. Don't put anything in boxes indicating electronics - i.e. don't put your TV in it's original box. Make it as non-appealing as possible and not worth the person's time.

We've traveled across the country many times, leaving car parked overnight with rooftop bag full of items, and previously truck bed filled with items covered with tarp. Never had an issue. You are valid in being cautious, and wise to unload anything of significant monetary/emotional value. Anything else I wouldn't worry. Double check your car insurance and what coverage there may be for stolen items, document what you have just in case.

I would be more concerned about items being stolen during short stops, such as when you're inside a gas station and left the car parked outside. There is much more commotion and people would be more likely to make a quick grab.

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queso
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Re: Car Vandalism During Cross-Country Drive

Post by queso » Wed Mar 22, 2017 7:50 am

I have done this a lot with thousands of dollars of dive gear in my truck, camping gear, climbing gear, etc. as well as expensive riding gear and dirt bikes on a trailer. Luckily my wife doesn't go on those trips or this wouldn't fly, but what I have done is stay in cheap motels (doors open to parking lot) where I can park my truck right outside the window/door to my room. I try to get a ground floor room so at least if someone breaks in I should be able to hear it and take appropriate action. If I can't do that I unload the truck at least as much as possible. I've got buddies that will take their bikes off the trailer and wheel them into the motel room! I don't go to that length, but I do secure everything well enough that it will make a heck of a racket if someone tries to get into my stuff.

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Re: Car Vandalism During Cross-Country Drive

Post by nick evets » Wed Mar 22, 2017 7:56 am

If you're worried about your car being vandalized, the drug that's most likely to cause your fears to be realized is....alcohol.

Stay away from college towns and Frat houses.

:beer

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Watty
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Re: Car Vandalism During Cross-Country Drive

Post by Watty » Wed Mar 22, 2017 9:14 am

The simple solution is to buy a car alarm. :oops:

Ot at least the dummy flashing led light and sticker that says there is a car alarm.

It sounds like with your concerns that would let you sleep better at night even if there is not a huge risk.

You can also set your car up to make it look like it is full of kids stuff.

I have and old laundry bag with cartoon characters on them that I will sometimes put on top so it is visible when I have to leave my stuff in the car somewhere. If you know someone with babies you can get an empty plastic bag that that diapers came in and leave it on the top where it is visible.

In picking out hotels you can check the reviews to see if prior guests had problems with theft.

In general if you do not stay in urban areas I would think there would be a lot less risky. If you want to stay in an urban area to do some sightseeing on the way then you can call ahead and ask the hotel front desk how secure their parking lot is.

You can also get a "club" to lock the steering wheel to make the car harder to steal. With things like U-haul trucks they will sometimes steal the truck for the contents then abandon the truck somewhere. For a thief one problem with a full car is that it could take ten minutes to throw everything into a different vehicle.

At the hotel if you unload all your valuable stuff and then go out to diner then there is a risk that your stuff could be stolen from the hotel room so be sure to keep that in mind.
Last edited by Watty on Wed Mar 22, 2017 9:32 am, edited 4 times in total.

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prudent
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Re: Car Vandalism During Cross-Country Drive

Post by prudent » Wed Mar 22, 2017 9:22 am

I removed a number of off-topic comments. Please keep replies focused on the topic.

90077
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Re: Car Vandalism During Cross-Country Drive

Post by 90077 » Wed Mar 22, 2017 9:24 am

livesoft wrote:Just be aware that LEO with drug-sniffing dog(s) will probably stop your car within 50 miles of leaving Colorado. Actually, the dog may be trained to score a hit, just so your car can be searched.
Fortunately I'll be south of CO on I-40.

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hand
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Re: Car Vandalism During Cross-Country Drive

Post by hand » Wed Mar 22, 2017 9:31 am

Good suggestions up thread for reducing attractiveness / opportunity for break-in.

To the extent that this is a financial question, recommend reviewing your insurance, and dropping deductible(s) to minimum for the period of your drive. Cost to do so is likely minimal, and will mitigate costs related to possible break-in. If you have insurance that covers vehicle contents, suggest documenting (pictures / list / serial numbers) valuable items in your car while you travel. Don't keep pictures /list in your car!

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Re: Car Vandalism During Cross-Country Drive

Post by wilshuer » Wed Mar 22, 2017 9:51 am

Maybe one thing to add, any files that contain personal information (taxes, bills, contracts) should be kept together and unloaded. These would be ripe for identity theft.

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hand
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Re: Car Vandalism During Cross-Country Drive

Post by hand » Wed Mar 22, 2017 10:08 am

Park next to nicer cars with more better stuff?

90077
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Re: Car Vandalism During Cross-Country Drive

Post by 90077 » Wed Mar 22, 2017 10:16 am

[OT comment removed by moderator prudent]

And thanks to all who posted helpful replies. Yes, parking my car outside my room in front of a well-lighted motel makes good sense.

Have considered strewing kid’s toys about the car - and used diapers in plain view clearly soiled (with dark shoe polish) as a deterrent. Maybe a small coiled rubber rattlesnake on the dashboard?

I’ve read both good and bad about throwing a blanket over car contents.

Your responses have helped me confirm that I will likely travel lighter than planned (shipping more stuff that I’d initially expected to transport in my car). My valuables, important papers, computer, couple of suitcases will be removed from the car nightly.

Happy trails all. :sharebeer

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KlingKlang
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Re: Car Vandalism During Cross-Country Drive

Post by KlingKlang » Wed Mar 22, 2017 10:26 am

White Coat Investor wrote:Lock the doors and hope for the best. Can't lose items come in the room with you.
It's debatable whether more valuables are stolen from hotel rooms by the staff or from vehicles in the parking lot. If you have two persons on the trip leave one in the room to watch your stuff while the other goes out for take-out food (or order room service).
White Coat Investor wrote:Alternatively, rent a truck and put a lock on it.
Make sure that it's the biggest case hardened 3/8" shackle lock that you can find. I drove a rent-a-truck with hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment to a trade show once and they snipped the standard padlock and cleaned me out in the 30 minutes that I was registering for the show.

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Re: Car Vandalism During Cross-Country Drive

Post by dm200 » Wed Mar 22, 2017 10:27 am

90077 wrote: [OT comment removed by moderator prudent]
And thanks to all who posted helpful replies. Yes, parking my car outside my room in front of a well-lighted motel makes good sense.
Have considered strewing kid’s toys about the car - and used diapers in plain view clearly soiled (with dark shoe polish) as a deterrent. Maybe a small coiled rubber rattlesnake on the dashboard?
I’ve read both good and bad about throwing a blanket over car contents.
Your responses have helped me confirm that I will likely travel lighter than planned (shipping more stuff that I’d initially expected to transport in my car). My valuables, important papers, computer, couple of suitcases will be removed from the car nightly.
Happy trails all. :sharebeer
Good Luck!
Seems to me that anything you can do to make it appear that the car is unlikely to contain anything valuable will reduce the risk. I would also be aware of the possible risks of "insider" breakins - that is if you disclose or ask questions of the hotel/motel staff that you might have valuables in the vehicle. I think you want the hotel/motel staff to think you are not worth being a crime victim. I would not, for example, disclose that you are driving cross country - not what to say or not say, though.

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Re: Car Vandalism During Cross-Country Drive

Post by IFRider » Wed Mar 22, 2017 10:28 am

Millennial wrote:I can't see any reason to worry about this, especially in well lit hotel parking lots.

Can you cite a source for your assertion that drug use and crime are at all time highs? I think it's irresponsible to present an opinion as fact when it seems to directly conflict with all available data.
+1

I've been riding my Harley and other motorcycles (easy to steal) all over the country (and Canada) for 33 years and never had a single problem. And I've stayed in some pretty seedy motels.

Also, I've found it helpful to keep the possessions that would be devastating to lose to a minimum. I've managed to get everything I don't want to ever be stolen down to 1, 18 gallon plastic container and 2 cat carriers. Everything else can be replaced with a few visits to Walmart (or a Harley dealer).

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Re: Car Vandalism During Cross-Country Drive

Post by mrc » Wed Mar 22, 2017 10:28 am

Like the idea of the "used diaper pail" motif! A Pampers box overflowing with prop trash would surely keep most folks moving along.

When we traveled cross country, once the car was as unloaded as we could, we moved it to a well-lit location in plain view. No need to have the car right outside the room -- where it was dark and in some cases on the back side of the motel.
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Re: Car Vandalism During Cross-Country Drive

Post by j0nnyg1984 » Wed Mar 22, 2017 10:30 am

The last time I moved my truck was 100% full inside, the bed was completely loaded with my snap-on tool box, and I was pulling a completely full 6x12' u-haul trailer.

I stayed at decent hotels and tried to park under lights, close to the windows of the hotel. Not always possible.

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Re: Car Vandalism During Cross-Country Drive

Post by DSInvestor » Wed Mar 22, 2017 11:00 am

I have driven across country several times with camping gear, bikes, and once for a move. When staying in a motel, I'd bring the bikes, laptops, iPads, cameras and important documents/files into the room with us. We have a Yakima cargo box so that gives us more storage outside of the cabin. We have never had a problem.

Get rid of as much stuff as possible before you move. Shipping boxes across country can be costly and it adds up. Make sure you really want it. I shipped some old stereo equipment and I have yet to open to open the boxes. It has been 3 years since I moved. Outside of two boxes I shipped, I moved only what would fit in a Toyota Camry and cargo box.

If you like outdoor activity, consider getting a cargo box (and roof rack if necessary). It will be useful for the move and also for camping/skiing etc. Not sure when you're moving but REI typically has a sale on cargo boxes at their anniversary sale in May. We have Yakima rack and cargo boxes and they have locks. These locks have changeable lock cores so you can get matching lock cores for your rack and box. Yakima provided us matching cores at no cost.
Last edited by DSInvestor on Wed Mar 22, 2017 11:13 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Car Vandalism During Cross-Country Drive

Post by researcher » Wed Mar 22, 2017 11:07 am

90077 wrote:Of course I plan to bring valuables into the room, but should I be concerned about leaving other personal belongings in my car?
If you bring valuables into the room, what are the "personal belongings" that would be left in the car? Extra clothes, family pictures, ect?
Are you really that concerned that someone would break into your car for such items?

Most thieves target cars for valuable items (money, phones, GPS, guns) tucked away in glove compartments & center consoles, not because they spot a car with a few black trash bags filled with used clothes.
Your responses have helped me confirm that I will likely travel lighter than planned (shipping more stuff that I’d initially expected to transport in my car). My valuables, important papers, computer, couple of suitcases will be removed from the car nightly.
It seems most people are saying your concerns are overblown. Curious why you are now planning to travel lighter than planned?

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Re: Car Vandalism During Cross-Country Drive

Post by neilpilot » Wed Mar 22, 2017 11:18 am

researcher wrote:Most thieves target cars for valuable items (money, phones, GPS, guns) tucked away in glove compartments & center consoles, not because they spot a car with a few black trash bags filled with used clothes.
Following your logic, if I have trash bags with used cloths then it's unlikely that my car will be targeted. Do I need to leave the bags open or tag them "used cloths" to prevent the break-in? Do I leave the glove compartment and center console storage open so the thief knows there's nothing hidden away?

My point is, the break in will occur so the thief can rummage through the car for items they might want. This is back up by experience. Sure a laptop on the seat will attract a thief, but break-ins are also somewhat random.

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Re: Car Vandalism During Cross-Country Drive

Post by frequentT » Wed Mar 22, 2017 12:07 pm

I would not worry excessively about your risks.

Here are a few counter-measures, cheap, effective, and a turn-off to any vandals:

choose mid-tier/budget places like Holiday Express, Hilton Garden, La Quinta
avoid the deeply discounted places
don't stay on the road to late into the afternoon/evening, because you want to park under bright lights, near a frequently used entrance
think strategically when you choose your location
bring some ratty looking sheets/blankets/quilts to completely cover your stuff
leave the front seating area pristine, no charging cords, maps, cups, phone holders, etc.: give no clues at all
buy a package of disposable diapers and display in prominently on top of the blankets
neatly open the package and place a clean diaper on top of blanket, and another clean one on the passenger seat or dashboard
after dark, or later in the evening go back and check to see that your placement and look, 'sells' your strategy

Good luck---you will be ok, try to enjoy your drive, see some sights along the way

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Re: Car Vandalism During Cross-Country Drive

Post by researcher » Wed Mar 22, 2017 12:10 pm

neilpilot wrote:Following your logic, if I have trash bags with used cloths then it's unlikely that my car will be targeted.
NO. That's not what I'm saying at all. My point is...
The OP's car is similarly likely to be a target, with or without a few bags of clothes in the back seat.
Do I leave the glove compartment and center console storage open so the thief knows there's nothing hidden away?
Actually, this might be helpful. It is a common occurrence for thieves to break into dozens of cars in a row, simply hoping to find something valuable in the glove compartment or center console.
My point is, the break in will occur so the thief can rummage through the car for items they might want.
Then you agree with the point I was making. The OP is concerned about his car being broken into overnight. This is likely to occur whether or not the OP has a few non-valuable personal items in the back.

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GerryL
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Re: Car Vandalism During Cross-Country Drive

Post by GerryL » Wed Mar 22, 2017 1:35 pm

On my two round-the-country driving trips I travelled with my employer-owned laptop. Serious hurt if anything happened to that item. Of course I kept it with me in the motel at night, but I came up with a plan to secure it (and my peace of mind) at all other times, including lengthy stops to visit local attractions. My car had flip-down back seats and the release was in the trunk. I put a Styrofoam cooler in the trunk up against the back seat. Each morning I pulled down the seat, slid the laptop into the cooler and secured it to the body of the car with a key-locked security cable. Then I reloaded the back seat. I figured if anyone broke into the car, they were going to have to work long and hard to get that one item.

Is there some way you can secure a lock box out of sight in your vehicle? Just for your peace of mind.

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Re: Car Vandalism During Cross-Country Drive

Post by white_water » Wed Mar 22, 2017 2:13 pm

We drive 3400 miles per year to/from a seasonal address with car or truck full of outdoor gear. We overnight in motels,park under the brightest parking lot light(s), back in so the trunk is closest to the overhead light, and facing a window. If possible I'd choose a motel with outside doors and ask for a first floor room. However most newer ones are built with doors off an inside hall. Some older buildings still have outside entrances

We bring our computer bags inside along with a small bag of clothes. The rest stays in the car. Anyone looking in would see a pillow or two, maybe a jacket or shirt, a newspaper , the rest is out of sight. We've gone Many years now without a mishap.
OTOH- we pick smaller towns, usually stay in chains that offer the regular discounts, AARP / etc. If I see needles, roaches ( both types) or lots of trashed bottles, beer cans,garbage in the corners of the lot, etc, it's easy to keep on moving.

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Re: Car Vandalism During Cross-Country Drive

Post by brokendirtdart » Wed Mar 22, 2017 5:25 pm

90077 wrote:
Your responses have helped me confirm that I will likely travel lighter than planned (shipping more stuff that I’d initially expected to transport in my car). My valuables, important papers, computer, couple of suitcases will be removed from the car nightly.

OP, without rehashing some of the great advice you have received, I noticed you said you were shipping a ReloCube. I know you have looked at ABF's website, but just a reminder that they supposedly only hold 2500 pounds. While just like any other container fashioned like that, it will hold more than 2500 but may incur additional charges(per the paperwork provided to me). http://www.upack.com/moving-services/mo ... r-size.asp

I move often, and I used an ABF ReloCube for some of my gear during my 2015 move(decent experience with them). Without even trying, I ended up with 2480 pounds in a 2/3rds full container. I recommend guesstimating your weight so you do not go over 2500.

Additionally, to assist with moving your gear in and out of the hotel each night. A couple inexpensive large rolling duffel bags would likely make the transition a lot easier.

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