I was about three months into my vagabonding life (way back in 2016) when I realized that the whole basis of camping is about trust. I was staying at a small campground just off a secondary road that got a fair amount of traffic. I thought to myself, for the first time, what keeps people from just pulling over and taking everything I have, or whatever they can fit in their car?
What keeps them from doing that? Most people are honest and decent and wouldn’t even think of taking something that doesn’t belong to them. They are people who respect property and privacy whether it’s their next-door neighbors or a camper just passing through their town.
I had my rental house broken into in 2014, the first time I’d ever been burglarized in 38 years of adult life. The thieves took every electronic thing they could find. It was devastating and I was paranoid about safety for months. Everything eventually got replaced (rental insurance is worth it) and life went on.
Two years later, I moved into a tiny trailer, and literally everything I owned was either in that trailer or the Subaru towing it around. It was a scary thought that someone could steal everything I had in one go. My first few campgrounds, I was a wreck, putting everything inside the trailer before I went anywhere. I had a wheel lock, two hitch locks, and a tracking device. No one was gonna take my stuff.
And then, after a while, I relaxed. Campsite theft of anything is rare. I’ve never heard of it at a campsite I’ve been at and I’ve not had anything of mine stolen. At Death Valley, I left all the windows open during the day while I was off exploring and it was all there when I got back. The farther away I was from urban areas, the safer I felt. No one is going to drive a couple hundred miles to the middle of Death Valley or Nowhere, New Mexico to jack my laptop. Or my trailer.
Now, I leave my trailer (with a good hitch lock) and my chair and popup shelter and go off for hours to see the sights, visit friends, or just do some laundry. And when I come back, it’s all still there. I trust people to do the right thing. 30,000 miles, 219 campgrounds in 37 states and 5 provinces, and I haven’t been disappointed yet.
(Full disclosure: The only camper I’ve met who lost anything had their trailer battery stolen when the rig was parked in their front yard in Portland, Oregon. Also, most crime rates have decreased in the last 35 years. The crime rate for burglary in 1980 was 1,684 incidents per 100,000 people and by 2014, it was 534 incidents per 100,000 people, a decrease of more than 50%)
Stop overthinking. You’re only creating problems that aren’t there.