Couple Robbed at Spanish Aire

Discussion in 'Motorhome Security' started by Jim, Nov 23, 2007.

  1. Jim

    Jim Ringleader

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    I have just read a story about a couple who were robbed in Spain after parking up for the night at a Spanish Aire on a peaje route South of Barcelona. They were sufficiently careful to strap the cab doors together, but the elderly lady woke to see an intruder leaving the Motorhome through the habitation door after he had just stolen her handbag from a cupboard that was just inches away from the sleeping couple. The couple lost all their credit cards passports and cash. I understand that the area was well lit and that other motorhomes were parked up in the same place. This may have given the couple a false sense of security.

    I do not want to debate whether we should sleep in Aires and public places as this has been done to death and people are entrenched in their view about this, but, we can all learn a few simple lessons from this incident.
    1. In situations like this robbers will know that the vehicle is occupied. This means that they will be high on adrenaline and will be expecting trouble as they break in. If, when you wake, the intruder is already in your motorhome the shock of this will ensure that most people (whether they think so or not) will suffer such a large adrenal dump that they will not be able to react effectively or speedily enough to really do anything about it and they risk getting hurt if they try to. Because of this it is imperative that you defend your vehicle enough so that robbers cannot easily effect entry. If you can delay their entry enough, then you have a much higher chance of waking and getting your act together and responding to the incident effectively. If the first thing you know about it, is that someone is there in the dark with you, you will probably lose.
    2. Habitation doors are the easiest doors to break in to. 99% of habitation doors can be opened by a crook quicker than the owner can do it with the key! But, if you are inside they are easy to defend, you should always have at least one deadlock or bolt thrown on your habitation door when you are in. It needs to be easy to open in an emergency, but a simple well fitted bolt or two will make it much more difficult for an intruder to get in.
    3. Chains and belts between cab doors are OK but they do stop you using the very best weapon you could have in a break in attempt and that is first gear. So make sure if you use these that they do not impede your driving away. Bolts on the individual doors don't offer the same visual deterrent as the chains or belts, but are more secure. I would only attach these chains when I leave the vehicle unattended again as a visual deterrent only, do not rely on them.
    4. Have a Fat Wallet. You should always have a Fat Wallet that cannot be seen from the outside, but as soon as someone is in they should be able to see it. The Fat Wallet should be full of old credit and telephone top up cards, a couple of notes and lots of old bills and stuff. The idea being that the robber will think he is quids in, and just run with that rather than open cupboards right by your head.
    5. Never have all your valuables in one place, do not allow the loss on one bag to ruin your trip. You should always have one emergency credit card stashed in the motorhome, this will pay for fuel and essentials like ferries if you are robbed. You should always have another stashed away on one member of the family.
    The chances of being robbed are very slim indeed. Tens of thousands of motorhomers holiday on the continent every year incident free, they do so without alarms and many without even the simplest security precautions. Generally speaking Europe is a very safe place; strangers are more likely to show you kindness than steal from you. There are only a few toe-rags out there, they are not intelligent, they are work-shy and almost only want easy pickings. Make them work, and they won't bother. make it easy for them and they might.
     
  2. scotjimland

    scotjimland Funster Life Member

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    Hi Jim

    These reports are always sad (bad) news but excellent advice.
    Motorway aires make for easy pickings and fast getaways for the scum and there is no safety in numbers or in well lit parking, they give a false sense of security and a lone petrol attendant is highly unlikely to venture forth and give aid.

    On the topic of deadbolts, do you have any extra ones fitted or know if they are available specifically for RVs ?

    Jim
     
  3. moandick

    moandick Read Only Funster

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    Deadbolts

    Hi Jim

    My knowledge of deadbolts is really limited but I can say that on both of the RV's that we have had - the Forest River Georgetown and the Monaco Cayman - the deadbolts have been fitted as standard. That must mean that there are spares available.

    Dick
     
  4. Jim

    Jim Ringleader

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    Most RV's come with a good bolt, but this is weakened considerably by being openable with a key (or something!) from the outside. It depends on your door, as to what type off addition locks you can add. Especially if you have a built in mossie screen which can make fitting difficult. But regular bolts such as those shown will often do a good job with most types.

    Preferably when the bolt is thrown it is flush with the inside wall and gains strength from the whole frame. If you have a fitted screen in an RV You will have to fit it in the middle and the bolt will be thrown into a hole you have drilled in the frame and then faced with a keep.

    Many Euro models already come with plastic thumb turn locks and these are very effective, if you remember to use them:Cool:
     

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  5. Don Madge

    Don Madge Funster

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    Emergency phone number with English speaking staff.

    Hi Jim,

    very good advice.

    When will people learn not to park up on motorway service areas on the Costas, it's not got the name "Bandit Country" for nothing. There are signs on some Spanish motorway stopping areas warning about the dangers of overnighting. :Eeek:

    The problem got so bad a few years ago the Spanish police set up an emergency phone number with English speaking staff for tourists (902-10 21 12) offering round the clock assistance in Alicante, Barcelona, Madrid, Malaga, Seville and Valencia regions.

    Don
     
  6. scotjimland

    scotjimland Funster Life Member

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    Hi Dick
    Ours has the standard deadbolt, I was thinking of additional deadbolts at top and bottom, but as Jim pointed out it's not easy with the fly screen door ..
     
  7. olley

    olley Funster

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    Hi Jim thanks for some very useful advice. The winnies got deadlocks but you can open them from outside, so useless in my opinion. I run a chain around the grab rail and the inside door handle on both the drivers and side door, not 100% secure as you can open the door just enough to get in with some bolt croppers to cut it, and I would think that's one item the crooks might be carrying. But it keeps the wife happy.:BigGrin:

    Olley
     
  8. Jim

    Jim Ringleader

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    Hi Jim, you are right, the fly screen door does restrict you. You can put a bolt in the middle above your existing handle. But the throw bolt will need to go into the door frame. Its pretty solid around there so it will hold the door closed even if they have used there tools on your door locks. A small bolt correctly fitted will be more effective than you might imagine and its easily opened in an emergency.
     
  9. Jim

    Jim Ringleader

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    Another thing I have just thought of Jim. You could use a good quality door chain. Have it fitted in the middle, where the hole in your screen is, with the keep securely mounted to the frame inside. If someone opens the door that chain will wake you and certainly impede a burglars progress.
     
  10. Geoff

    Geoff Read Only Funster

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    Hi.
    Rack bolts like these may get round the fly screen problem


    Regards Geoff.​
     

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  11. moandick

    moandick Read Only Funster

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    Key access to dead bolts

    Thank goodness I read this topic as I had always thought of the deadlock as being foolproof - didn't even think about the key access from the outside - how naive is that? :Sad:

    Not panicking, in the least - as we only have the one door entry (no driver or passenger door) but we will now have to look at something like Jim's idea of the security chain as well as thinking of some way of locking the 'fire escape' windows which is easily removable in the dreaded event of fire...

    With all the other windows we have a small but sturdy metal rod which drops between the side wall and the central locking lever to stop someone sticking a knife up through the window joint to slide the central lock open.

    Many, many moons ago we had a 'forum' discussion with Olley about storing a spare key somewhere on the RV in case you lose a key whilst out of the vehicle. With the amount of security initiatives we have now built-in - the only way we could break-in would be literally that - to break-in - not an idea I relish.

    Dick
     
  12. mandjhumph

    mandjhumph

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    I saw somewhere (not sure if it was on this site or not) that you can use the cheap rape alarms (the ones with the pin that pulls out) as door alarms. Fix the wrist strap with the pin to the door and the alarm piece to the frame (I think they said with velcro) and when the door is opened the pin comes out and the alarm sounds waking the occupants and hopefully scaring off the intruders.

    Jane & Martyn
     
  13. Tony Santara

    Tony Santara Funster

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    Well done Jim
    some food for thought there
    and some jobs for the winter months
    It's nice to have a security expert on hand to point us in the right direction
    :thumb::thumb::thumb:
     
  14. eddievanbitz

    eddievanbitz Trader - Funster

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    Have you thought about writing a book about motorhome security Jim? It would be well recieved!:thumb:

    I don't just mean alarms (obviously that would be easy! read my web site :Smile:) But the whole aspect of personal security when travelling at home or abroad.
     
  15. Jim

    Jim Ringleader

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    We really do need to find a smiley with his tongue in his cheek. :BigGrin:
     
  16. Mark1

    Mark1 Deleted User

    Spanish Break-in

    After having the van broken into during the night in Spain I have now fitted an "Approach" alarm, in addition to the vehicle alarm and internal lockable dead locks on all three doors {without external keys}.
    The approach alarm consists of two "Ring" PIR awning lights, one on each side, which illuminate when anyone approaches within 3 metres. Each alarm is connected to a small buzzer alarm {Sold for warning of 'lights left on' etc., by Maplin's and others}.
    Both these alarms are loud enough to wake even the most 'out-of-it' sleeper, and the hope is that the lights coming on will dissuade intruders, but being awake will give us occupants the chance to drive away. The last thing anyone should do is to try to defend their possessions from these yobs, it could prove to be the last thing you do!
     
  17. Mark1

    Mark1 Deleted User

    Use of Rape Alarm

    Yes, I have this added security, but it is a belt and braces scene because the vehicle alarm in all it's glorious sound will be activated if the door is opened!
    Just make sure that you have a vehicle alarm which can be set when the van is occupied, and that it covers all doors and locker hatches.

    The best security is to be fully aware of the problem and to spend a little time and money to combat it.

    Mark1.
     
  18. haganap

    haganap Funster Life Member

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    A very good and timely post.

    I have two measures of security, one of which is the normal house chains that you get to put on your front doors at home. I have these fitted to my garage doors as they both offer full access to the MH and the children asleep in the bunks.

    I have a door strap made by myself, and I have two squeeler rape alarms attached to the doors. on the habitation doors I only have two plastic turning locks which probably in hindsight are not that great. So I will review them.

    On the subject of adrenalin,,, I remember being burgled when living in Coventry, I heard some one at night, came to the top of my landing to see some one there, switched the light on shouted and he legged it , I then gave chase running on pure adrenelin, I chased him for over 5 mins through the streets in the dead of night. After about 5 mins although still chasing I suddenly thought to myself, what am I going to do if I catch him? therefore why am I chasing him? When the police came the y said I was MAD to be chasing him.But it's just when confronted you don't know what you will do.:Eeek:
     
  19. Forestboy

    Forestboy Funster Life Member

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    Good post with some sound advice. maybe we could have a meet with security as the theme and check out how good our vans are against others. Mines just got the basics it came with which is probably inadequate I would certainly be up for it, mind you any excuse for a knees up.

    On the subject of chasing burglars. When I owned the yard we were always getting robbed, so when I caught a guy late one night I gave chase. Unfortunatly I caught the toe-rag and wrestled him to the ground and held on to him while waiting for the police to arrive. Although I manhandled him I did not hit or beat him although I wanted to and was very aggresive towards him as you would expect.
    A couple of days later the police arrested me as the guy had accused me of using excessive force to restrain him. To cut a long story short I ended up having to drop the charges against him as part of a deal to stop the police charging me, even though he'd broken into my property late at night and damaged the fence and the office doors.

    Would I give chase again, probably as adrenaline takes over, but it's not a good idea you can't win and what if they're carrying a weapon don't forget they're pumped up as well.
     
  20. 656

    656 Read Only Funster

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    We always set the motorhome alarm system, which covers all the doors including the habitation door. The habitation door is also locked. So far, we have been lucky and not suffered a break in.
     
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