I’ve lived in my van since the start of 2017 and even though I have been lucky enough to have not been broken into I know plenty people who have and who have lost everything. While I may have been lucky so far I make sure I take every precaution to minimise my risk and so I thought I’d share some of my van life security tips, safety gear and rules I follow to be as safe and secure as I can be inside my rolling home.
I use a selection of locks, trackers and cameras to keep my van safe, I try to use them all when I’m going to be leaving the van for any extended period of time but I’m only human and so often forget one or two of these things. However because I use a multitude of items to protect my home, if I forget one I always have a back up.
The Carlock Tracker is a smart little device that plugs in directly to the van’s ODB port (which all vans will have) and alerts me whenever the van moves, the engine’s started, there’s excessive shaking and even if it is unplugged. I can track my van via GPS so if the worst does happen I’ll always know where to find my home.
This may be an oldie but it’s a classic for a reason, a wheel lock is not only a practical security measure but a visual one. By securing the wheel any would be thief will be unable to drive away because the won’t be able to turn the wheel, but perhaps more importantly having this deterrent visible may even stop them trying as they look for easier targets.
If you’re really serious about keeping your eyes on your van then you might want to invest in the Reolink CCTV. It hooks up to WiFi in the van and can also record directly to a micro SD. What’s good is that it’s powered by a rechargeable battery and doesn’t need hard wiring in or screwing into your van so it can be moved around at will depending on what you want to keep watch over.
When I’m leaving my van for any period of time I like to secure my van by using a deadlock. It’s one added level of security and acts as both a deterrent for would be theives as well as a challenge should they wish to break in. One thing to be sure of is that I make sure I bring the lock in at night because I don’t sleep with the lock attached to the door should I need to get out in a hurry.
Just because I have kitted my van out with a bunch of security gear doesn’t mean I can now forget the basics of safety and put myself and my van in harms way. There’s a bunch of really simple things you can do to keep your van secure and safe which become second nature once you start.
Hide your valuables
Lot leaving your valuables in plain sight through your windows may seem obvious but it’s so easy to forget when your van is your home. If you were in a house you would leave your laptop on your bed or your camera on a shelf with no qualms, however in a van on the street doing so will put your valuables in plain view for any passerby. While most people are honest why would you risk it. Simply putting them away in a draw, under a blanket or in a box out of sight is simple to do and just takes away any temptation or sign that you van might actually be worth breaking into.
Stay in a safe place
There’s plenty of great articles on how to find great park ups which go into detail about find remote and beautiful places to spend the night. I do this almost every night however if at any point I arrive and feel like the spot isn’t safe then I move on. There’s always plenty of places to stay and so if I’m unsure I simply don’t risk it. In addition to this I always make sure that I park in such a way that I can leave at a moments notice, should I feel unsafe I’d hate to have to carefully reverse out of my park up under pressure.
Don’t draw attention to yourself
Making sure that I don’t draw unwanted attention to myself is often on my mind when I park up. Being loud and obnoxious tends to draw similar attention which I try to avoid. This doesn’t mean I shut myself up in my van and sit quietly in the dark, it does however mean that I don’t get drunk in the street with my van wide open and my music blaring.
Have some common sense
All of the above van life security tips can be boiled down to my life’s motto, have some common sense. If you feel unsafe move, don’t put yourself in danger, don’t give people a reason, and don’t be stupid. These are the best tips I can give when trying to stay safe while living in a van.
With all of the above being said, I’d be remiss if I didn’t caveat everything by saying that everyone I have met on the road has been great, the scary man covered in tattoos I met deep in the snowy woods who was scoping out my van turned out to be a guy who had a spare heater and noticed I didn’t have one so wanted to give me it, the strange cars pulling up around my van late at night atop a mountain turned out to be more vanlifers knowing safety is found in numbers, and that strange knock on my van first thing in the morning was a passerby who noticed I’d left my camera on a tripod outside my van and wanted me to make sure to bring it in. People are inherently good and meeting them is one of the blessings you get when you live in a van.