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Is Theft Common at Campgrounds?! RVers Share Their Experiences

| Updated Feb 19, 2024

Is Theft Common at Campgrounds? You’d think that with grills, camping chairs, and more being left out, theft would be common at campgrounds. The reality might surprise you…

Newbie RVers often worry about their gear getting stolen while away from their campsite (or while they’re sleeping). While their concerns are logical, they may not be entirely warranted. 

A recent post in our RV Lifestyle Facebook group had overwhelmingly positive responses regarding campground theft. Here’s what the post said:

“Is theft a problem with RV camping? Especially with the outside storage bins?”

The more than 200 comments contained more “I’ve never had a problem” type comments than we expected. It seems that the consensus is theft is NOT a big problem.

However, that doesn’t mean theft doesn’t occur in campgrounds! In fact, some of the commenters share how things were stolen from their campsite. 

It’s also important to note that most RVers take precautions to ensure their things aren’t stolen. That, of course, plays a big role in them never having a problem. 

So, here are some campsite theft prevention tips you can employ!

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7 Campsite Theft Prevention Tips

Campground theft may not be rampant, but employing the following campsite theft prevention tips is still a good idea. 

The thing to remember is that most thieves are rather lazy. Or, I suppose you can argue that they prefer to work smarter, not harder. That means they go for the easiest targets. A few preventative measures can go a long way in deterring a thief.  

PSST! At the end, we share 5 Big Campground Dangers you do need to be aware of. Plus, safety gadgets for EVERY DANGER RVers face.

1. Lock Your RV Doors

Is Theft Common at Campgrounds?! RVers Share Their Experiences 1

Yes, this is a rather obvious tip, but it’s quite common for RVers to leave their doors unlocked, even when they leave for prolonged periods of time. It’s better to be safe than sorry, and always lock your RV doors whenever you leave your campsite.

The same goes for your RV storage compartments. Keep them locked up, as well!

Many RVers don't like locking their doors because they have finicky locks or don't like to carry keys everywhere.

One of the first things we’ve done with our last three RVs is to replace the standard center door lock with something called the RV Lock.

The RV Lock is a combination lock. It also comes with a fob (that DOES work all the time), and it does have keys, but you don't need to use them. The way most people use it is simply by entering a combination.

The RV Lock is very easy to install. You can DIY. I had a technician install the first two. On our most recent one, I installed it myself. Here's a video that shows the process on our previous RV:

Like what you see in these videos? We'd appreciate it if you would Subscribe to our YouTube Channel (easy to do right here) and consider “ringing the bell icon” to be notified of any new video from us. 🙂 Thanks!

2. Secure Your Gadgets

This is also common-sense thinking, but you don’t want to leave valuables lying around your campsite whenever you’re away. It’s not worth tempting a thief or even a rebellious teenager.

Don't leave phones, speakers, or other electronics out. Fun camping gadgets are also at a higher risk of theft than other basic items.

3. Chain Your Bikes

If you’re an avid cyclist, you probably know how expensive bikes can be. Don't leave them outside unsecured. Invest in a good quality bike lock and secure your bikes to something solid, like a tree or your RV.

Thieves are much less likely to attempt to steal a bike if they have to go to the trouble of cutting through a lock.

A few commentators also mentioned that their kids' bikes were stolen. So, don't think less expensive bikes aren't a common target.

This tip is especially important if you have ebikes. As Kelly shared in the FB comments, “Friends had their e-bikes taken off the bike rack while they were inside sleeping. Got a heavier chain.”

So, keep your bikes locked OR get an ebike that you can store in your RV, like these Lectric bikes…

We recommend you go Lectric for your RV Lifestyle

RV Lifestyle Partners 8

You know we love our RAD Power bikes – and have featured them for years, but we recently tested out and LOVE our new Lectric foldable ebikes. Being able to fold them up allowed us to put them in our Wonder rear garage area for a recent RV Lifestyle Gathering. You can check out our experience with them right here on our YouTube Channel.

4. Put Coolers Out of Sight

It's not so much coolers that get stolen but their contents. Several RVers shared how they had drinks and food items stolen from the cooler. The main item stolen? Beer.

So, keep your favorite camping coolers in a location that's not blatantly obvious to passersby. Or that are within easy reach of the walking path. People (*cough* teenagers *cough*) will be less likely to steal from your cooler if they have to go deep into your campsite to get it.

As an added deterrent, you can also cover it with a tarp or towel whenever you're away. Out of sight, out of mind!

On a more humorous note, many commentators shared how raccoons live up to their “bandit” nicknames. They've been responsible for as much (if not more) food and drink theft as wayward teens!

And they don't care if you're at the campsite or not! Rebecca shared such an incident:

“One night, we and neighbors were sitting out playing cards. A huge raccoon jumped off the side of a tree and grabbed our unopened bag of Chips Ahoy. He then climbed up the tree, sat down upright against the tree, opened our cookies, and ate them. He chattered a bit as if taunting us. 😝

5. Install Motion Sensor Lights (That Won't Blind Your Neighbors)

Motion sensor lights are an excellent way to deter thieves. The sudden illumination can startle and scare off anyone who’s up to no good. And there are SO many options!

However, be considerate of your neighbors and choose lights that won't blind them when they activate. Adjust the sensitivity and brightness settings to achieve optimal results.

It's best to install small motion sensor lights where you need them most. For example, above your ebike rack. Again, just be sure these lights won't disrupt your camping neighbors. You don't want to be that bad camping neighbor!

4. Get a Dog

Like what you see in these videos? We'd appreciate it if you would Subscribe to our YouTube Channel (easy to do right here) and consider “ringing the bell icon” to be notified of any new video from us. 🙂 Thanks!

If you’re a dog lover like us, bringing your furry friend along on your camping trip is a great way to have company and an effective security measure. Dogs have a keen sense of hearing and smell, which can alert you to potential intruders.

Just ensure your dog is comfortable in a camping environment and won't bark excessively or disturb others.

5. Invest in an RV Security System

Installing an RV security system can provide additional protection for your RV and belongings. These systems can include motion detectors, door and window sensors, and alarms that alert you and authorities if someone tries to break into your RV.

You can check out these 5 Best RV Security Systems.

6. Lock Up Your Generator

If you have a generator, make sure it’s securely locked up with a heavy-duty chain and padlock. Generators are expensive and easily stolen, so it’s important to take extra precautions to protect them.

If outsiders come into the campground with the intention of stealing, generators are at the top of their list. So, don't make it easy for them!

7. Park in Well-Lit Areas

This tip is for boondockers. If you’re going to camp overnight in a parking lot, park in a well-lit area.

This will make it less appealing for thieves to target your RV, as they will be more likely to be seen by passersby. Here are more helpful tips for you:

So is theft common at campgrounds?

What's your experience? Let us know in the comments below. Please also join the conversations in our RV Lifestyle Facebook group!

5 Big Dangers of Camping in an RV Campground

Even though theft isn't a common issue, there are 5 big dangers of camping in an RV campground you should be aware of.

These dangers include:

Plus, be prepared with these Safety Gadgets for EVERY DANGER RVers Face.

Mike and Jennifer's Southern Utah RV Adventure Guide

Is Theft Common at Campgrounds?! RVers Share Their Experiences 3

Utah, Utah, Utah.  What more is there to be said? In very few places across the United States is there such a tremendous area with breathtaking vistas and diversity of terrain.

This ebook is a seven-day guided exploration of the State and National Parks in Southern Utah. We provide a suggested route and itinerary, links to multiple campgrounds and boondocking spots, and the best spots to see along the way. Don’t plan your trip to Southern Utah without it!


Mike Wendland

Published on 2024-02-19

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

11 Responses to “Is Theft Common at Campgrounds?! RVers Share Their Experiences”

March 11, 2023at11:17 am, Mary Wilson said:

So far we have had no issues but we don’t leave much not secured.

Reply

March 07, 2023at9:06 pm, Kimberly Breitbarth said:

In 30+ years we’ve never had a chair, bike, beer or corn hole game touched. It’s not the other RV’ers that need to be watched but how accessible the camp is to outsiders. BUT I did just return from a Las Vegas NASCAR race were we had to have the truck/trailer inspected for infield camping and our campsite neighbors discovered $4k cash along w/CC removed from inside the trailer during inspection. Almost $5k was charged to the CC. Apparently the thief from the security inspection co. stole from 6+ trailers and was identified and arrested by LV police. Never let someone from a concert, race series, public event, etc inspect your rig without you having eyes on them.

Reply

March 07, 2023at8:42 am, Donna Suzawith said:

Never ever had a problem in all the years camping. But with the influx of new campers and their children running wild, am now more conscious of our camping area. They come walking right thru campsites, eyeing up what you got. Our neighbor had their camping Welcome sign taken off their post by some of these lovely children. Little did they know they were seen, camp host made aware and family were asked to leave. Another instance, they went into another’s campsite and let those campers dog off the leash. Luckily the owners were walking back from the showers. Now am not saying all kids are ‘wild’, but if new to the camping lifestyle, maybe keep a eye on your children. What they get away with a home is not acceptable at campgrounds.

Reply

March 06, 2023at6:43 pm, Linda Shearman said:

We have camped all over the USA We never have had any thefts nor any disturbances

Reply

March 08, 2023at2:40 pm, Team RV Lifestyle said:

That is awesome! Thanks for adding this to the conversation – Team RV Lifestyle

Reply

March 02, 2023at7:33 pm, Kevin Davis said:

We’ve only had one issue in 7 years of full time living in RV Parks. And it was in the 2nd park we stayed in. Unfortunately we were in a site that backed up to an outside road. We found a bloody handprint on the rear escape window. And they broke the latch. Curtis Trailers wanted to replace the entire window. Lafayette Auto Body Shop and RV Repair charged $20 to fabricate a block of aluminum to fix the issue. Since then we’ve learned to listen to the wife’s gut about RV Park safety.

Reply

March 04, 2023at8:24 am, Team RV Lifestyle said:

Listening to the gut is important! thanks for sharing, Kevin – Team RV Lifestyle

Reply

March 07, 2023at7:58 am, Michael Parks said:

I’ve camped at various state parks and camping resorts but mostly state parks. The few times I’ve visited private owned places is where you have or hear about problems. State parks I usually visit are so safe and friendly.
The only time I had something stolen from me was at a Gay camping resort in the Poconos. Someone took a bottle of liquor we had in a bag under our awning at the table. They definitely were on our site while we were at the pool or something. Our site was in an overflow area a bit away from others so they were likely not as easily seen going over our stuff.

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March 08, 2023at2:42 pm, Team RV Lifestyle said:

That would be unnerving…. glad the majority of your camping experiences have been good! Team RV Lifestyle

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March 02, 2023at11:52 am, Bev Parkison said:

Be aware of local thugs that cruise through campgrounds looking for an opportunity to steal. This happens far more often than other campers stealing. However it’s been a rare occurrence for us. Out of about 170 different RV parks we’ve stayed across the country, only three incidents (two from locals and one from minors at campground).

Reply

March 04, 2023at8:23 am, Team RV Lifestyle said:

Thanks for sharing, Bev! Team RV Lifestyle

Reply

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