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Are there any tips for preventing a vehicle from being broken into while parked at a trailhead?

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It is fairly common practice to drive to a trailhead, park your vehicle and then go backpacking for a while. It would be a real bummer to come back from a trip and find that your vehicle has been broken into.

Are there any tips to reduce the likelihood of this happening?

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+2
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Although it may seem extreme, I often disconnect my battery before embarking on a hike. Especially if I am in a remote l …

6y ago

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Great suggestions here; I would add I concur with the leaving car empty of all valuables, glovebox open. Additionally, y …

7y ago

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Basically, the same rules as elsewhere apply. I&#x2019;d stick with those: If possible, do not leave anything of value …

7y ago

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1,5 year old question, but I do not see this trick which I (also) use: Make the car and its content look shabby and uni …

5y ago

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There are already loads of good tips here as I add this, but I'm missing one in particular: if you have to leave electro …

6y ago

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The biggest thing is to plan ahead. Whether you are going to a trail head or to a show in the city... Don't think that …

7y ago

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There ain't no way man...As Mr. Miyagi would say, "the best defense against a would be car vandal is no be there." I pr …

7y ago

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If your vehicle has a trunk that can't be reached from the cabin, then physically disable the trunk release lever by det …

7y ago

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If you can't leave the car empty-looking, at least don't load the storage up at the trailhead. There was a spate of the …

7y ago

+0
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One thing that has not been mentioned is to consider which trail head you park at. Some trails/areas have multiple trail …

7y ago

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The existing answers by Ken and Liam offer good advice. But unfortunately there is nothing you can do to prevent break i …

7y ago

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One of the deciding factors for thieves with cars is whether they can see something they consider of value. If they have …

7y ago

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It sounds counter intuitive but leave everything inside the car open, i.e. the boot cover glove box, etc. Make it obviou …

7y ago

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If your vehicle has a trunk that can't be reached from the cabin, then physically disable the trunk release lever by detaching the cable. Objects in your trunk will only be accessible with a key, or by a very determined thief with a crowbar.

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This post was sourced from https://outdoors.stackexchange.com/a/15513. It is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

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Although it may seem extreme, I often disconnect my battery before embarking on a hike. Especially if I am in a remote location. This is a nice way to ensure there is no slow electrical drain that may discharge the battery. Additionally, it would hamper a would-be thief’s efforts at stealing the car. If I must leave something of value in the car, I try to hide it either under a seat or in the spare tire compartment, hoping that the thief is too lazy to search thoroughly. I have also used personal alarms such as these:

New and Interesting Finds on Amazon

They are easy to attach to a backpack or bag left in the car, and if the thief removes the bag, the alarm goes off. Might be enough to cause him to run off.

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This post was sourced from https://outdoors.stackexchange.com/a/18516. It is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

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Great suggestions here; I would add I concur with the leaving car empty of all valuables, glovebox open. Additionally, you could buy a car camera with live feed and GPS capabilities. They are available and not too expensive. A "warning sticker" or two, placed prominently, might do the trick just as well. Akin to putting a security sign on your lawn and decals in the windows of your home. It has deterrent value and potential thieves may well go for a less intimidating vehicle.

Window Decal

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Basically, the same rules as elsewhere apply. I’d stick with those:

  • If possible, do not leave anything of value in the car. They can’t take what’s not there.
  • Also avoid leaving hints of something valuable being in the car. For example, a few years back in Milan, the general advice was not to leave a suction cup holder for a sat-nav on the windshield, as would-be thieves might (and frequently did) infer the sat-nav might be in the car.
  • Leave the inside of the car visible. If you have a station wagon with a trunk cover, pull it back so everyone can see from the outside there’s nothing in the trunk. (Again, common advice in some parts of Italy.) Opening the glove compartment and armrest/center console cover is also a good idea. Anything that looks secured may hint at valuables and attract thieves.
  • If you do need to leave valuables in the car, hide them under some other object (which should not look like its sole purpose is to conceal valuables). A simple blanket, cheap jacket or the like might work. Taking your valuables with you, or leaving them at home in the first place, is still safer.
  • Anticipate being watched: Some thieves observe their targets and strike as soon as they are away. Don’t give any signs of leaving objects of value behind in the car (such as tucking away a cell or purse).
  • Avoid being the lowest-hanging fruit. If you can, park close to a car that looks like an easier or more desirable target.
  • If you are positively sure you have nothing inside your car that you aren’t ready to part with, you can consider leaving the car unlocked. This allows would-be thieves to rifle through your car without having to damage it. Do note, however, that you may be liable in some legislations: If the car is stolen, you may lose insurance coverage and might even be liable it the thief causes an accident with it (as you didn’t take necessary precautions). Some states, like Germany, even fine drivers for parking a car without locking it. Use this one with caution and check local laws and practice.

Still, as everywhere, there is no 100% security. At the best, these things reduce the likelihood of something happening.

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It sounds counter intuitive but leave everything inside the car open, i.e. the boot cover glove box, etc. Make it obvious that there is nothing worth stealing inside (and obviously don't leave anything worth stealing).

Don't worry about them stealing your car, this is practically impossible with modern security devices (the only way to steal a car these days is by stealing the key due to immobilisers, etc).

Still doesn't protect you from random acts of senseless vandalism but, well nothing can do this really.

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One thing that has not been mentioned is to consider which trail head you park at. Some trails/areas have multiple trail heads. If you have a choice in trail head, it is worth talking to locals to determine if any are particularly problematic.

In my experience the most problematic trail heads are those with easy access. What this means is that often if the only available trail heads are problematic, that there are alternatives to parking directly at the trail head. Sometimes you can park in town (e.g., Walmart in the US or an outfitters) and catch a shuttle, hitch, carpool, or even bicycle to the trail head.

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If you can't leave the car empty-looking, at least don't load the storage up at the trailhead. There was a spate of thefts a few years ago on Dartmoor where car parks were watched for signs of valuables being tucked away, then a window was smashed and the items stolen. This was the sort of place where cars are parked for hours rather than days. In our case they knew which side to smash to be able to reach a handbag. This was an estate car with a soft luggage cover; that seemed to be a bit of a theme when I looked into it after the event.

So instead, get your bags ready before the drive, and pick them up off the back seat when you leave the car. Any valuables you want on the drive should go with you. Then leave nothing on show that could look like it might hold valuables.

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There ain't no way man...As Mr. Miyagi would say, "the best defense against a would be car vandal is no be there."

I propose a different solution than others would:

I never have that problem because I do not park at trailheads. We have been known to pull our 1999 Toyota Corolla off the dirt road we were on ( another tip: find those dirt roads! ) and cover it up, even if it meant building a small lean to over it. Since we were already driving in a very deserted area not turning off a major highway and into a crowded trailhead we would just camp close to the car and we have never had a problem.

Sometimes, I bike to the trailhead after parking in Walmart's heavily watched parking lot a mile or so away. Or, I sometimes leave the car at home and bike all the way. Yea, down the trail and off of it too a good mountain bike will go.

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1,5 year old question, but I do not see this trick which I (also) use:

Make the car and its content look shabby and uninteresting (that is more 'extreme' than the earlier suggestion avoid leaving hints of something valuable being in the car): dirt and a few old rags or newspapers make you car shout out this person has no valuables.

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The existing answers by Ken and Liam offer good advice. But unfortunately there is nothing you can do to prevent break ins. Thieves can be surprisingly stupid.

True story...

A friend of mine drove her jeep wrangler with a soft top to the trail head and parked it before going on a hike. The roof is canvas and the back side window unzips FROM THE OUTSIDE. She left the doors unlocked, so if someone felt a strong urge to rifle through her jeep they would not be inconvenienced and feel the need to damage the canvas top.

The thief did not even try the door, nor did they unzip the side window. They used a knife to slice through the back side window (plastic). Opened the (already unlocked) door from inside and rifled through the jeep finding nothing worthy of stealing.

No there is nothing you can do, to prevent breakins, even leaving the doors unlocked will not prevent a break in.

Image link of similar vehicle: Jeep Wrangler.

enter image description here

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The biggest thing is to plan ahead. Whether you are going to a trail head or to a show in the city... Don't think that a towel for a cover or sliding it under a seat will work. Stow stuff in your trunk before arriving. And hopefully you have a lock on your trunk button.

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One of the deciding factors for thieves with cars is whether they can see something they consider of value. If they have it fixed in their minds to breaking into your vehicle, they will do it.

Here is a few things I do to avoid such misfortunes:

  • Park your vehicle in the best open and visual spot possible so that thieves would be deterred from being spotted while in a commission of a crime.
  • If you think there are some things that may be more interesting to thieves, cover them with some sort of junk looking objects.
  • I have a friend who never takes new tools in his pick up and he puts pink paint on them as an additional measures against thieves.
  • I made a center console covering out of vinyl, in order that people looking into my vehicle can not see what I have between the front seats. The vinyl covering is of the same color as the rest of the interior of my vehicle.
  • On some trailheads there are signs to remind people to keep their cars locked when absent from their vehicle. Snatch and grab is the biggest and easiest way for thieves to take what they want.
  • Another way to stop "snatch and grab" is to anchor some of your belonging with a cable to something solid in the vehicle.
  • Do not leave valuables in your vehicles. If possible leave them at home or keep them on your person.
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There are already loads of good tips here as I add this, but I'm missing one in particular: if you have to leave electronics behind (for some reason you can't leave them at home, like maybe you're doing the hike on your way somewhere), in particular larger items like a laptop, shut the device down (or hibernate, not sleep) and take the battery out of the device just to be sure. Theoretically thieves can detect a device in several ways, including finding the electrical charge itself (against which the removed battery would help), but the easiest thing to track inside a metal car in practice is the wifi signal. This can at least on some models even be detected in sleep mode. Make these preparations before you're at your parking spot because as others noted thieves can be watching. And there are way more thieves with eyes than with wifi detectors.

While I'm writing anyway, avoid leaving expensive sports equipment in sports related locales. Thieves go to these trail heads because they're trail heads. It's mostly not an issue with walking, but a thief visiting say a cross country skiing trail start might know a thing or two about which skis are resellable. Similarly kayak exit points and campings are visited by thieves who know their boats. If you have to leave stuff, lock it up someway, make them work for their loot.

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