Thursday, November 22, 2012

Overland Security

Anyone who knows Scott, knows that we wouldn't be embarking on a Pan-American journey without an El Tigre security system.  There are many layers to our security system.  We've been traveling in Mexico for a little over a year now, and for the most part, have felt very secure.  We get nervous when we park in plain view at a trail head with no other cars around, but that's no different than the USA.

In these situations, we chain our camper door with two padlocks (pictured below), enabled by installing stainless steel eyelets with tamper proof screws on each side of the door.  I put together the beware-of-dog poster using the rockin' clip-art from Microsoft Works (we don't really have a dog).

Scott also installed eyelets on the inside of the driver/passenger doors so that we can padlock a cable between them.  The cable is strung through the steering wheel which has a Club attached.  If someone decides to break the windows, they still won't be able to open the doors, and they would have to climb over the broken glass.

When we leave the truck or go to sleep, we put both of our computers and our camera in the back underneath a secret seat-compartment.  Our wallet and extra keys are hidden or locked in the box on the back, which is really just a giant aluminum safe.

The bikes are locked with 2 15-foot cables and 2 padlocks. The ladder, attached under the box, is secured with a cable and padlock. Each wheel has locking lug nuts and the license plate is attached with tamper proof nuts. The spare tire, mounted under the vehicle, is locked with a cable and padlock.  We are definitely packing some padlocks--all of which use the same key!

Ladder and spare tire

When we are nervous about a parking location, like a deserted hiking trail head, we leave the radio on (running off of our auxiliary batteries).  We have a recording of a barking dog that we haven't used yet.

When we go to sleep at night, Scott lays out our big butcher knife and a mace canister.  The latest addition to the nighttime security system is a bear bell attached to the door that will presumably wake us if someone tries to open the door.

The measures we have taken go beyond the "keep-the-honest-people-honest" approach.  We hope that our extra level of padlocks and cables will deter even the lazy, professional thief. Nevertheless, Scott still worries about not having bars across the windows, an ignition kill switch, or a lock for the hood. Most of all, he worries that publishing this post will jinx us.

See Part II to this here: Overland Truck Security Part II


Anonymous said...

This was a question I have been meaning to ask, but I don't like to offend people about the safety issues with traveling in Mexico. You two seem to travel very safely. A regular household deadbolt door lock will fit on your camper door. I put one on my trailer. I use the one with keys on the inside and out so even if the glass gets broken they cant reach in and open the lock without the key.

Dave said...

My wife and I are in the planning stages of a multi-year Pan American Highway trek. Security is very much on our minds. After reading about the elaborate DIY security measures you made to prevent your vehicle from being stolen I have to ask, why not just take out the fuel pump fuse, for example, when you're away from the vehicle? Did you consider such an idea and reject it?

Heather and Scott said...

Hi Dave, I don't know if you will see this response. We are generally not as concerned about getting our vehicle stolen as we are about getting the contents of the vehicle stolen. We have never heard of anyone getting their entire camper stolen but we have heard countless stories of people who have had their windows broken and stuff stolen from the interior. Since our cab is directly attached to our living space, we are especially concerned with someone breaking the front windows, unlocking the doors, climbing in, and having a field day with our belongings (in the privacy of the camper).

Dave said...

Thanks for the reply. I plan on getting 3M automotive security film ( applied to the truck's side windows, to stop or seriously slow down the "smash & grab" attack. I'm still working out how to bolster the camper's door.

Your blog has been invaluable to me in planning our trip. Great job! Muchas gracias!

Sunny said...

Hey guys! Great post - one question, though, if you cable the doors that way - can you close the windows and still get in?

Heather and Scott said...

Hi Sunny, The cable is just long enough that we can get a hand in the door to lock/unlock it on one side.