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SuiteSuccess

OT: Boondocking

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Want to open a discussion about a particular aspect of boondocking for comments and perspectives.  First please do not get political in this discussion.  I was appalled at hearing about the young couple on South Padre who were murdered and their rig stolen and apparently taken to Mexico.  As HDTers my opinion is that our rigs might be a more attractive target for nefarious activity.  It is my impression that there has been an uptick in semis and commercial trailers stolen and crossing the border, so might we be a target?   For those that boondock do you feel more vulnerable than the last few years?  And have you changed your locations and preparations based on those feelings?  Now I know there will be one or two “machismo “ replies that “nothing scares me” but I’m sure that young couple felt safe also as they had been doing it over a year.  I would also be interested in any encounters anyone has had.

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I boondock 90% of the time when I travel, preferably BLM land.  I will only stop if there are other rigs around.  Just to stop to get some sleep, I look for a Cabalas, a Casino or a truck stop.  I don't fill good about stopping at a Walmart.  I stopped at a Walmart a couple of yrs ago in Fort Stockton TX.  There were about 6 other rigs and that evening I get a knock on the door.  Through the window I ask the woman outside what she wants.  She asked if I wanted to buy girl scout cookies (don't think it was cookies she was offering).  I said no I was not interested.      What has served me well is to be aware of my surrounding and be ready to defend myself.   

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We rarely stay at campgrounds.  We prefer to boondock in National Forests and BLM in the mountains during the summer.  We also have some secluded mountain property that we stay at a lot.  We are not full timers but we stayed in the mountains all summer.  We often boondock in AZ during the winter and have a small lot for other times in AZ.  I try to stay alert and prepared but I am not paranoid.  If attacked it is usually a suprise and often the attacker will have the advantage.  Still I feel safer boondocking than in most cities and a number of campgrounds.  I feel that there is only a small percentage of people that would even think of committing these types of crimes and more people means a slightly better chance of a thug.  A lot of campers boondocking seem to be carrying weapons of one type or another and I think there would be easier targets.  All in all we have stayed in remote areas for many years and we  plan on continuing.   We owned a ranch for years and one had to be on our property or flying above to see our house so this type of area has been our home.  Maybe it is just what we are used to but I feel safer boondocking than in a city.  

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Hi Carl! I understand that theft (of both tractors and trailers) are a serious problem. I expect that a tractor that has been converter from commercial service would be a less attractive target but, if it's "easy" to take, a thief probably will. I've read that thieves carry jammers that render things like LOJACK (or other trackers) ineffective. 5ers (and trailers in general) are attractive targets too and, MOST states pay VERY little attention to trailers. Apparently, it's NOT difficult to re-VIN a trailer which will make registering said trailer in another state easy. 

After 32 years as a Police Officer, I KNOW that there ARE evil people out there and, for a variety of reasons, their numbers seem to be increasing. EVERYBODY needs to be aware of what's going on around them (a concept called "Situational Awareness"). Most people go through life in "Condition White" (ie clueless). Ideally, you want to live in "Condition Yellow" (relaxed awareness). Bad guys quickly figure out who are "easy targets". The more you can be in Condition Yellow, the less likely you are to become an "easy target". A simple nod of acknowledgement (and maybe a smile or "good morning") lets a potential "bad guy" know that you're aware of his (or her) presence and, that simple act can reduce the likelihood of you being his next victim. MOST cellphones have cameras these days. Don't be afraid to use them! If that little voice in your head is speaking up, LISTEN TO IT! Snap a picture of things that set off your internal alarm. If questioned / challenged as to why you're snapping pictures, answer that your friend who is a Police Officer recommended you do so when you felt that something was "off" (you won't be lying, I've just recommended you do so!). DON'T offer money or give any indication of what valuable you might have. If solicited, politely decline and offer to dial 911 for them. If they TRULY need help, they'll accept that offer. If they're scammers, the LAST thing they'll want is having the LAW notified of their presence. Nervousness on their part is a solid sign that they're up to no good; a perfect tome to snap a picture of them, their vehicle / license plate, their accomplices (practice snapping a picture when it looks like you're simply making a call) so they might not realize you're taking their picture. 

As RVers (especially full timers), we tend to be trusting of others because we've met so many wonderful people in our travels. The world HAS changed and, we need to adapt, especially to the negative changes. Make sure you're doing the simple things. LOCK doors and compartments. Don't leave attractive "stuff" out when you're away. Talk to your new neighbors. Let friends / family know if / where / when you'll be away from "civilization". Allow trusted people to follow your phone (or other device). Apple has "Find My" (used to be Find My Friends) and Android has a similar App. If you spend a LOT of time "off the grid", consider a GPS based device that will allow you to send a text along with your exact coordinates. I believe Garmin is one company offering such devices. They're NOT inexpensive BUT, they could truly be a life saver. I apologize if I've rambled too long. What I've listed is really just the "tip of the iceberg". Simply be more AWARE will keep you safe MOST of the time but, in life, there really are NO absolute guarantees of safety. STAY SAFE!

Regards,

John

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Seeing a post from an LEO reminds me of what a local cop told me while kn our ranch.  He said if you call we will respond as quickly as possible and can probably be there in an hour.  Maybe a little faster if we happen to be in the area.  Of course most crimes happen in minutes but if you can hold on for the first hour we can help after that.

Edited by Randyretired

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While I think it is very common for people to feel this way, remember that the statistical probabilities of crimes occurring will be in larger populated areas, not out remote in the wilderness. 

I agree with everything that people are saying, that you should be prepared and aware of your surroundings, but don't let one event cause you to live in fear either.

People often get freaked out over an event, such as a plane crash, when in reality you are much more likely to be in a fatal car accident, yet we happily get in our cars every day. 

Yes these crimes can and do occur to boondockers, but it happens far more in populated cities.

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Is the violent crime rate lower now in Canada and the USA than it was 20-30 years ago?

Fear has always been Big Business...

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John hit the nail on the head with one comment. "Situational Awareness". For those that are not familiar with conditions white, yellow, orange and red, you might want to do some research and training on what to do when it hits the fan. Evil does walk the earth but a few simple things can drastically reduce your chances of being a victim. Attend an awareness class in self defense, follow some simple rules when in deserted areas and be prepared for anything that seems out of the ordinary.

 

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FYI the evening news did report last night that the two suspects were in custody in Mexico. As for the victims, I think the primary reason they were targeted was opportunity.

When overnighting between destinations we quite often boondock.  Walmart and other big box stores friendly to allowing overnight stays are where we most frequently stay.  We also overnight in large rest areas.  We avoid the small ones as the lack of activity in the rest area makes it easier to be unnoticed if somebody is up to no good.

Our number 1 rule for choosing a site is lighting.  We avoid dark and secluded spots. I will typically choose a spot under a lamp post even if requires a little bit of driving skills to access over a semi lit spot that is easy in/out.

Second rule is doors are always locked.  Even if the weather is nice the front door is closed and locked.  If the generator has to run in order to be comfortable, then so be it.  That is what it is for.

Cleanliness of the spot matters too.  In our travels, weather it is a overnight stop, a meal break or rest/bathroom break, the less clean the area the more likely we are to see something that puts us on higher alert/awareness.  Basically if the area is kept in a mess, the less others seem to care what happens there.  It is just something we use for a quick assessment before we even see anybody.

As for strange, uneasy encounters only once.  This spring on a trip headed north we spent the night in a WalMart.  Busy store.  The following morning as I was walking the dog, the wife watched a man drop trow an defecate on the parking lot in broad day light!  One of the many reasons we are avoiding Walmart's more and more these days.  The people are getting weirder (or maybe we are just getting older with less tolerance for weird). 

Later that same day, late into the afternoon we drove into a large cold front.  The front brought heavy rain, wind and rapidly falling temperatures.  We spotted a large truck parking area along the interstate.  Our initial thought was take an extended break to ride out the weather.  A quick look at the forecast and we decided we would stay for night.  It was clean and well lit.  About 10 minutes later my wife calls for me as I am in the rear of the coach.  As I approached the front of the coach a p/u truck with two males comes to a stop about 15' in front of the coach.  I am purposely standing in full view thru the windshield so that they know, that I know, they are there.  After staring at each other for 5~10 seconds I juster (nothing vulgar) to indicate "what?".  No reaction from them after about another 10 seconds.  All this time I have verbalized nothing but our dog sensed a change in my demeanor.  She immediately picks up on that I am fixated on something outside the front window.  As quickly as her head pops up and is visible in the front window, she becomes fixated on them and starts staring them down with out barking.  It is clear, she has made eye contact with them, and them with her.  At this point, they seem to have decided what ever they wanted from us was no longer important and backed up.  They pull up under a different light post.  After another 10~15 minutes another truck pulls in.  As he is parking, they pull up next to his door.  I can see him talking to them thru his window but he does not get out nor do I see him give them anything.  Another 5~10 minutes go by and another truck pulls in and parks at the far end of this very large truck parking area.  At this point it is hard to see them due to distance and quickly diminishing light.  A few more trucks pull in and lose complete site of them.  I figured they were just looking for a few bucks or something.

They very well may have been harmless but thanks to our situational awareness, our reaction and an attentive dog, they decided what ever they wanted it was not worth it.  I am a firm believer that dog is a great deterrent, regardless of the dogs demeanor.  A stranger has no idea if the dog is friendly or not.  A quiet dog watching your every move can be very intimidating.  Victims are quite often picked based on how easy they are perceived to be easy to victimize. 

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30 minutes ago, RickW said:

FYI the evening news did report last night that the two suspects were in custody in Mexico. As for the victims, I think the primary reason they were targeted was opportunity.

When overnighting between destinations we quite often boondock.  Walmart and other big box stores friendly to allowing overnight stays are where we most frequently stay.  We also overnight in large rest areas.  We avoid the small ones as the lack of activity in the rest area makes it easier to be unnoticed if somebody is up to no good.

 

WalMart, etc. is not considered boondocking. It's just overnight pavement parking.  Boondocking is out in the boonies be it national forest lands, BLM lands or beaches.  We boondocked 90% of our time during our 16 years of full-timing and never felt uneasy doing so as do thousands and thousands of others.  This incident was a freak occurrence.

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 Thanks for the discussion everyone.  We all know the world is a different place than when we were kids.  Can’t leave front door unlocked or let our kids play unattended in the front yard like we did.  My sense from the above discussions is all of us are more attentive to surroundings than we once were.  I also hear most folks saying they aren’t changing their locations or plans for boondocking in remote places which is reassuring. (Not talking about overnights in WalMart, truck stops, or rest areas).  I will admit my comfort level has decreased over the past few years and fairly recently we overnighted in a campground in a sketchy part of town in Oklahoma surrounded by some sketchy people in old trailers.  I dozed through the night with my “protective device” close at hand.  Something I rarely even considered twenty years ago.  I opened this discussion because for me I have changed and it was hard for me to come to grips with some of those changes and I had to reorganize my thinking.  I’m not a small guy (6’4, 245#) but I’d last about one minute in a fight due to age, arthritis, and conditioning. My means of protection changed.  My awareness changed.  We’re going to do some boondocking with friends and it is exciting.  Will we do it in a remote area by ourselves?  Probably not and probably missing out on a great experience thus my reason for getting some perspectives and experiences from others, cause I may change my mind.

Also John, Thanks for the LEO perspective.  Very good info.

Edited by SuiteSuccess

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5 hours ago, spindrift said:

I hadn't heard of that situation, I'm sorry to say.  And I live in Texas.  What time frame?

Apparently very recently, this month on South Padre.

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4 hours ago, SuiteSuccess said:

Apparently very recently, this month on South Padre.

Here's a current discussion on another section of this forum:  

 

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Everything people are saying about being aware of your surroundings and situational awareness and such is true.  I agree.  However, understand that most crimes of this sort don't happen with someone lurking or sneaking up on a campsite or crawling through the weeds.

Most likely this criminal/s engaged the rv couple in some normal manner.  Maybe they were just a couple walking along the beach, or they met at a restaurant and decided to get together on the beach.  Maybe they enlisted their help with a stalled vehicle.  There are hundreds of scenarios and we really won't know what took place.  Chances are that this rv couple let their guard down, felt comfortable around these strangers. 

My point is that just because they were located at a secluded area doesn't mean they were vulnerable.  And, just because someone carries a firearm in their waistband doesn't make them safe.  There are dozens of stories of serial killers befriending their victims, luring them into their homes, gaining their confidence.

I don't think there is any way to be totally prepared to protect yourself against a ruthless predator.............and still live an enjoyable and relaxed life.  All we can do is use common sense and trust our instincts.  If something doesn't quite seem right, it probably isn't.

 

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3 hours ago, chirakawa said:

Everything people are saying about being aware of your surroundings and situational awareness and such is true.  I agree.  However, understand that most crimes of this sort don't happen with someone lurking or sneaking up on a campsite or crawling through the weeds.

Most likely this criminal/s engaged the rv couple in some normal manner.  Maybe they were just a couple walking along the beach, or they met at a restaurant and decided to get together on the beach.  Maybe they enlisted their help with a stalled vehicle.  There are hundreds of scenarios and we really won't know what took place.  Chances are that this rv couple let their guard down, felt comfortable around these strangers. 

My point is that just because they were located at a secluded area doesn't mean they were vulnerable.  And, just because someone carries a firearm in their waistband doesn't make them safe.  There are dozens of stories of serial killers befriending their victims, luring them into their homes, gaining their confidence.

I don't think there is any way to be totally prepared to protect yourself against a ruthless predator.............and still live an enjoyable and relaxed life.  All we can do is use common sense and trust our instincts.  If something doesn't quite seem right, it probably isn't.

 

Excellent explanation!!!  So true.

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22 hours ago, SuiteSuccess said:

 It is my impression that there has been an uptick in semis and commercial trailers stolen and crossing the border, so might we be a target?

 

22 hours ago, spindrift said:

I hadn't heard of that situation, I'm sorry to say.  And I live in Texas.  What time frame?

 

16 hours ago, SuiteSuccess said:

Apparently very recently, this month on South Padre.

I think that what spindrift was commenting about was your thought that there have been increased thefts of truck/trailer combinations. Like him, I too live in TX and while I did recently read an article about that type of theft, the article didn't indicate a major increase recently, only that it has been happening for a long time and that it still does. The other thing is that the article was totally about commercial trucks & trailers and never made any mention of RV thefts at all. If you read the subject story completely you will find that there is nothing in it to indicate any motive but based on the history of the two perpetrators I would suspect that they had in mind to disappear into Mexico and live there in the RV. 

We live in an information age and we are made aware of every bad thing that takes place anywhere that a news reporter can get the ugly details for a sensational story. It isn't so much that these things never used to happen as it is that we didn't know about every incident, everywhere. This is no different that stories of weather destroying RV parks, earthquakes, mass shootings, or forest fires. You need to be aware of your surroundings but not allow hysteria destroy your enjoyment of life. 

Chirakawa sums it up well. 

Edited by Kirk W

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16 minutes ago, Kirk W said:

We live in an information age and we are made aware of every bad thing that takes place anywhere that a news reporter can get the ugly details for a sensational story.

So true.  Consider the news persons' primary goal..  It's not to keep us informed, but to secure advertising dollars.  Hype sells.  Anything to get folks talking, buying newspapers, watching tv, etc.  It's the same with weather forecasters.  It's in their best interest to be dramatic, rather than accurate.

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We boondock 95%+ of the time and don't worry about what we can't control. Obviously if an area looks sketch, we'll continue on to another location.

In my mind..... which seems to be backward to most here, I don't park where others are around. More people and close proximity to a city brings more opportunity to a thief or wrong doer. Being parked out in the desert where is quiet and no lights is most peaceful. Other than our trip to Canukisan a few years back, we're always heavily armed and prepared for things that could pop up.

All the facts aren't out on this incident, but there had to be a reason these poor folks were targeted. Lets be sure to look uninviting so the bad guys move on.....If we all look like this they will never pick one of us out?

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On 11/8/2019 at 8:04 AM, CrazyCooter said:

We boondock 95%+ of the time and don't worry about what we can't control. Obviously if an area looks sketch, we'll continue on to another location.

In my mind..... which seems to be backward to most here, I don't park where others are around. More people and close proximity to a city brings more opportunity to a thief or wrong doer. Being parked out in the desert where is quiet and no lights is most peaceful. Other than our trip to Canukisan a few years back, we're always heavily armed and prepared for things that could pop up.

All the facts aren't out on this incident, but there had to be a reason these poor folks were targeted. Lets be sure to look uninviting so the bad guys move on.....If we all look like this they will never pick one of us out?

We have been boondocking with Dolly-painthorse ALL spring / summer straight with fairly good results  

In my previous life I conducted ...."logistics" in third-world locations where most of the time I was the ONLY guy without a gun or knife.

In the last few years of boondocking we have had ONLY had a few problem-encounters. 

Three "encounters" come to mind over three years and at first glance most folks would say we had two "dog-encounters" and one "human-encounter" but the reality is that the two dogs were owned by humans that allowed unacceptable actions to occur so ALL "encounters" were human related.

Seldom is a gun the best solution to a given problem .....and can often bring on more problems.

As the horse camp stable-boy (un-stable) I tend to be "armed" with a pichfork much of the time 

It's well known that the sound of a pump action shootgun has a ........ calming effect upon scumbags ......so it might not be a surprise to consider that the mere sight of a fresh stained manure fork seems to have a calming effect on some scumbags as well.

Now if you want to be scared to death boondocking try ..... Joe Watt dispersed camping just S W of Ellensburg WA......BILLIONS and TRILLON'S of field mice......the pichfork does not faze them a bit and they just keep on coming.

Boondocking is a way of life when horse camping and scumbags will be scumbags......but rodents are what you should be scared of above ALL..... 

Drive on..... (Beady-eyes are watching..  )

Edited by Dollytrolley

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Years ago, I believe 1986, we were camping miles back a gravel road in the national forest, in an old ghost town, near Leadville, CO.   Sitting around the campfire, one guy told of a friend who would wander around and knock on camper doors, telling folks he was collecting the $10/night camping fee.  Until he was met at one door by a pistol wielding guy who knew there was no fee.

Scum bags aren't a new issue.

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On 11/7/2019 at 7:46 AM, SuiteSuccess said:

  As HDTers my opinion is that our rigs might be a more attractive target for nefarious activity.  It is my impression that there has been an uptick in semis and commercial trailers stolen and crossing the border, so might we be a target?  

I wondered this also. But I heard a news report that the type of 4x4 vehicle they were driving is in high demand in Mexico now. With the cartel wars and such. They mount guns on them. Plus being a criminal he probably needed a way to sneak into the Mexico. Lots of snow birds headed that way. Steal a truck and camper to blend in. Trade the truck to the cartel to pay debt of for protection. This is pure speculation but it was the first thing that I thought of when I heard he was headed south.

Being our trucks are altered to pull RV trailers they would be of little use to anyone wanting to pull a semi trailer. Unless some cartel guy wanted a Mobile office or something.

About the only thing I wold be worried about is an armed robbery.  My rig being much older and than most I still get that look and the questions. Dang you must have spent a ton of cash on that rig. Until I explained that I have less in the truck and camper together than I have in my last pickup truck alone.

Some of the couples with the high dollar rigs may be more of a target. But everyone I met at the West Coast Rally seems like they could take care of themselves pretty well if a situation arose. You know unless 4 or 5 guys show up and they want your truck. Then I guess you get your walking shoes out of the camper and wave good by.

The chances of this happening is slim. You just need to be aware of your surroundings. Us being novice boondockers we don't go out in the bush. We tend to stay near business or towns. Harvest hosts was a good investment. I would love to go out in the desert for a few days but I would need to tag along with some of you more experienced folks a time or two before I was comfortable. Safety in numbers.

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not everybody should have or carry a gun.   but as one who does, the most important thing is knowing what is about. (keeping the gun under cover is best, as it is the LAST thing to touch). but as said earlier in this thread, keep up on what is going on around you, who is watching, walking around. etc. yes take photos, so what if the crook sees you taking there photo, it will encourage them to go away.

if you do not feel right about that "camp" down the road...move.

(sorry police)  sure call 911, after all the police are only a hr ( https://www.asecurelife.com/average-police-response-time/ ) --in the citys only--.   more away if your in the sticks. the crime can be all done within 5 min.

i do not mean to bash the police, as they do have the hands full, and can not be on every corner all the time. and then some calls just have to wait in line.

 

then this.

https://consumerist.com/2014/02/24/if-youre-wanted-by-the-police-dont-call-911-to-complain-about-burger-king-order/

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I'm curious.  For safety, is there a group of folks that are willing to disperse camp together?  I don't mean park next to each other, more like be in an area together?  1/4 mile between RVs knowing a yell, horn blow, etc would bring the group together?  Safety in numbers, don't need to be buddies, just be there for each other in emergencies?  Sort of like where we live in the boonies.  We have distant neighbors, we're not buddies, but one call and I could have a dozen folks in my front yard (or theirs) pretty quick.

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1 hour ago, NDBirdman said:

I'm curious.  For safety, is there a group of folks that are willing to disperse camp together?  I don't mean park next to each other, more like be in an area together?  1/4 mile between RVs knowing a yell, horn blow, etc would bring the group together?  Safety in numbers, don't need to be buddies, just be there for each other in emergencies?  Sort of like where we live in the boonies.  We have distant neighbors, we're not buddies, but one call and I could have a dozen folks in my front yard (or theirs) pretty quick.

It sounds like boondocking is not for you.  Having this much fear isn't the way to live.  Best you go to a RV park.

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