Autoroute Aires .. we were not gassed or robbed..

Discussion in 'Motorhome Chat' started by scotjimland, Jul 26, 2016.

  1. scotjimland

    scotjimland Funster Life Member

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    Nope .. we survived two overnight stops on French Autoroute service stations.. and now live to tell the tale..

    Let me explain..

    I don't usually use them.. but one one occasion I had been driving most of the day and couldn't find a nice aire close to our route .. exhausted , hot and tired I succumbed and parked up..

    It was baking hot.. over 30c, the AC in the van had packed up earlier in the day .. and we all needed a rest, a good meal and a shower...

    Unlike the rip off MSAs in the UK.. the French Autoroute service areas are FREE for as long as you want or need.. they also have FREE showers and this particular one had FREE Wifi.. Chaz was in heaven..

    so after we all had I nice long cooling FREE shower.. something to eat , Chaz played on the Wifi.. we settled down for the night .. van alarm set .. (Vanbitz Growler) Mylo on guard duty.. I fell asleep within minutes..

    Woke up next morning, ..no hang over, Rolex watch still sitting on the work top.. not broken into or gassed.. sun was up and it was already warm in the van..

    Will we use them again .. probably.. my first choice is a nice quiet village aire.. but are they safer ? I don't know.. I 've read stories of people being burgled on quiet aires.. @JJ reported several vans being broken into in a village aire.. we had a bike stolen form the rack at Capbreton aire..

    so Autoroute Service area aires.. probably as safe as anywhere.. just take sensible precautions.. and DON"T park near HGVs... they are on the move all night, and many have refrigeration units running ..very noisy

    Park in a well lit area close to the services... and set your alarm..
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2016
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  2. Hollyberry

    Hollyberry Funster

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    Ive stopped overnight on French motorway service areas ( and one in the UK but only because I was too tired to find anything else) Didn't have any problems or worries.
    I think the small motorway Aires that just have a toilet block and maybe a couple of picnic tables are probably riskier. And the ground always seems to smell of urine! Used to stop in the car to take the dogs out for a break but noticed smell afterwards. Their paws and my shoes. Yuk.
     
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  3. Robert Clark

    Robert Clark Funster Life Member

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    I think the secret of your successful overnight stay, and the key to safe camping is in your last sentence

    "Set your alarm"

    Safe travels everyone !
     
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  4. Geo

    Geo Trader - Funster

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    He Forgot to include Luck
     
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  5. Armytwowheels

    Armytwowheels Funster Life Member

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    I don't think you tried hard enough!
    How you going to make a claim now you have posted this. What about your iPad and £2000 cash?

    This is a really good example of how not to do it folks, you will never make a profit on this one Jim.
    :doh:
     
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  6. GeriatricWanderer

    GeriatricWanderer Funster

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    I just don't understand people who do that! What's the point?

    It makes absolutely no sense at all parking overnight on an Autoroute without putting in an insurance claim.
    There's always the few who spoil it for the rest of us.

    Bah humbug.
    :)
     
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  7. eddievanbitz

    eddievanbitz Trader - Funster

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    We always use them when travelling, it is, after all what they are for

    The first time I remember seeing water and hook up, showers, dump station in an Aires du service I thought that I'd died and was in heaven

    Enjoy your tripSJ
     
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  8. DavidG58

    DavidG58 Funster

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    A regular for us too and will be when needed like you, but always have very bad memories from many years ago on one of the non service area aires when we were tugging

    Classic stop, dead tired, daylight, only pulled in for a rest, girls aged about 7 + 9 went to play on the activity devices, we both laid on bed and fell asleep, some time later (not long at all) woken up by the girls saying a family had offered to take them to Paris could they go with them? Total panic, rushed out, both girls there quite safe and other car pulling away quickly

    Totally our fault and we now feel very guilty about what might have been, but wouldn't do it again

    As Jim said be careful, we have since done exactly as him many times and one of our favourites is Aire du baie de Somme near Abbeville (y), I did think this might be slightly 'safer' as it is on a toll motorway, but did notice a sign on the back roads last trip we were heading to Montreuil the road sign said Aire du Baie de Somme, possibly giving local access but in turn negating my toll theory

    We now tend never to use tolls, not sure if the non toll routes are any more vulnerable?
     
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  9. chaser

    chaser Funster

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    We used to use them without a second thought, until we started reading this forum, now with all this talk of gas sings and robbery and things, we try to find somewhere else, but never had any problems, but as someone else mentioned are you any safer on a country aire on your own, I wouldn't think so.
     
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  10. Jim

    Jim Ringleader

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    It's a fact that being in public places (as opposed to private) increases the likelihood of being a victim of crime. Motorway Aires are for many the ONLY time they sleep in a public place. This does not make Aires particularly more dangerous than other places. I've always considered them relatively safe and believe they do not entirely deserve the reputation that motorhome forums hold them in. That said re-read the first sentence of this paragraph. :)

    Park up anywhere in a public place and you run the risk of being a victim of crime. Maybe I'm just a lucky Jim, but I regularly stop on motorway aires and do not get robbed. However I'm meticulous with the security when parked, and I have highly developed senses as to what feels right.

    I remember years ago a good friend of mine, Steve H' being robbed on an Aire in Spain. He was touring with us, driving my car following our van. When we slept, he had a small two man tent that he erected as there was no room for him to sleep in our van. One night he woke at around 4 am to find a large knife pushed through his tent slicing him a new door. He shouted (screamed :) ) and the robber fled. Clearly, a tent is a soft target, it's easy to break into and is not recommended but a properly secured motorhome is much better defence, and your chances of being robbed are not really any higher than parking in any other public place.

    Whenever we hear of motorway aires thefts, we learn that 99 times out of a 100 the tired victim on a hot sticky night, makes it easy for the thief to gain entry. So many times, thieves enter through open doors and windows, :doh: or, just as easy as an open door, they force open that pathetic hab door lock that chassis makers and converters insist on fitting, and most people rely on!

    Whenever you are parked in a public place, you should be certain that no one can easily enter and if they do enter there is enough noise made to wake the dead. It's easy to miss stuff when you're tired so make yourself a Wild Camping checklist. Never scoff at checklists, they work, it's just too easy to miss important stuff when you're tired. Something like this will do, this is an Evernote checklist on my phone
    • Not Nosey Parked
    • Exterior Lockers locked
    • Bikes Secure- Alarm Loop On
    • Cab Doors Locked
    • Cab Windows Locked
    • Keys removed,
    • Alarm set to Sleep Mode
    • Nothing of any value in cab
    • Wallet/Purse/Passports hidden
    • Keys Handy
    • Phone charged in bed
    NB

    As for my mate Steve, he was shaken up by the incident but carried on kipping in the tent. But only after adding some security. :) He tied one of our kid's rattles to a piece of string, with the rattle in our van he fed the long piece of string to his tent, his plan to rouse me should he ever again see a knife coming through the nylon. This gave him the peace of mind to be able to sleep. Luckily was never a target again as that rattle would have never woken me up.
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2016
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  11. ukbill

    ukbill Funster

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    i have stayed on village aires and motorway aires,i have never had any problem at all,but like @scotjimland said dont park near lorries with fridge units
     
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  12. buttons

    buttons Funster

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    "Thieves enter through open doors and windows, doh: :)" They do indeed Jim, I have told before about the time I had arrived in Le Estartit after driving for 12 hours. I was on my own with the kids, they had gone into town while I had a kip with the side door open in a side street. I had the fore-site to lock the driving doors before I laid on the center seat with my feet up on the sink thinking no body will get past me without waking me. Big mistake, I awoke to find one with his head in the wardrobe and the other exiting with a suitcase. The chase was on but they went in different directions and I'm not made for speed even when fully awake. You are right Jim :doh: :)
     
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  13. Chris

    Chris Funster Life Member

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    Your Rolex might not have been nicked but I bet you can't find your iPad or the £2000 in cash you had in the van.
     
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  14. Taran_Las

    Taran_Las Funster

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    If I stayed on a motorway aire and wasn't gassed/robbed I'd ask for my money back;)
     
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  15. old-mo

    old-mo Funster Extra Special Life Member

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    (we were not gassed or robbed..)

    You back in the UK @scotjimland ??????????

    Might happen yet.... :wink: :giggler:
     
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  16. DuxDeluxe

    DuxDeluxe Funster Life Member

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    Exactly! (y)
     
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  17. eddievanbitz

    eddievanbitz Trader - Funster

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    Lest we forget, Jim in real life is the Countries leading security consultant to the rich, powerful and famous.

    His highly acclaimed books on the subject are considered "required reading" for many organisations.
     
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  18. Chris

    Chris Funster Life Member

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    His easiest assignment was looking after the Twickenham trophy cabinet between 2003-2016(y)
     
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  19. GJH

    GJH Funster Life Member

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    But he still moved to Wales because he needed a rest :D
     
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  20. eddievanbitz

    eddievanbitz Trader - Funster

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    Duh there was a World Cup in there.

    Every one is Wales would try and nick it if they could

    It is Wales's only chance of ever getting one
     
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