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Stolen Roadtrek recovered: The victim’s story

| Updated Feb 6, 2014

Dennis George couldn't believe his eyes.

It was the morning of Tuesday Jan. 28, and he was staying at a Hampton Inn in Lakeland, FL  He looked out his hotel room window and saw an empty parking spot where he had parked the brand new Roadtrek CS Adventurous the night before.

Dennis George and his new CS Adventurous – before the theft.

“I thought maybe the hotel had towed it for some reason,” he said. “So I ran down to the desk and asked them. The clerk said no. Then one of their workers came in and said there was all sorts of broken glass out on the asphalt.”

The glass was where he had parked.

His beautiful new motorhome, bought just last October, had been stolen. Thieves had smashed the passenger window, found a spare set of keys he had hidden inside and taken off. Surveillance cameras from the hotel showed the two thieves in action. They smashed the window at 4:56 AM. They drove out at 5:05 AM

The Dalkeith, Ontario, Canada native was traveling alone, living his retirement dream. He had been enjoying the weather in Florida after a 5,000 mile shakedown trip that took him through the western United States. He was in Lakeland to get some service done on his Roadtrek and took a hotel room because he couldn't find a nearby RV park.

He called the police as soon as he discovered the theft. An alert was sent throughout the south to law enforcement agencies. Roadtrek user groups and social media pages posted the picture of George's CS.

No one held out much hope. Many thought it would go straight to a chop shop.

The police didn't bother to clean up after themselves, either

Fortunately, it didn't. The thieves drove it around about 200 miles and abandoned it in Lakeland. It was recovered Friday, four days after it was stolen. Police never did find the thieves, though the investigation is continuing. The inside was left a mess of black fingerprint powder put down as part of the police investigation.

“They took everything except my underwear, socks and dress clothes,” said the 67-year-old George, a divorced father of a 40-year-old son and a grandfather of two young girls, 15 and 11. “They cleaned it out. They got my computer, my iPad, my golf shirts, the bicycle on the front, pretty much everything. I read your blog and got the same GPS you recommend and even the same mattress topper you and your wife suggested from Bed, Bath and Beyond. They got that, too.”

The theft was not the only setback George has had with his new RV.

Part of the broken glass caused by thieves who smashed in the passenger window

In December, at the Grand Canyon, he pulled into a ranger's station to get an annual pass.

“It's a good thing I did because when I put my foot to the brake, it went all the way down to the floor. Thank God I found it out there at the ranger station. I was able to use the parking brake to stop. But if I had gone a couple more miles, there was a six percent downhill grade. No way would I have stopped.”

George says his right front brake line became unseated from the brake line holder. That allowed the line to contact the exhaust has recirculation (EGR) tube and resulted in a hole in the brake line.

Roadtrek has issued a recall for the problem, which involves an estimated 61 vehicles built on the Sprinter platform from February 14, 2013 through December 20, 2013.

“That brake deal turned out to be a mess,”said George. “I had to be towed more than 200 miles to Phoenix to get that fixed at a Mercedes dealer.” Road service has handled the cost.

George is currently in Sarasota, FL. His CS Adventurous is at a Mercedes dealer there, waiting for the broken passenger window to be replaced. He is using the down time to sort out his insurance claim for the items stolen from his motorhome. Despite the hassles,  he is still upbeat about his Roadtrek and his new life on the road.

He retired last fall, selling two businesses involved in commercial and industrial natural gas service back in Ontario. He plans to travel North America for four and five months at a time. He still has a fruit farm back in Dalkeith, a small town located about halfway between Ottawa and Montreal and he will return there each summer and early fall.

“I know I've had a spell of bad luck,” he concedes. “But I'm just being as patient as I can be. I just want to get back out on the road. I've been looking forward to this stage of my life for a long time.”



Mike Wendland

Published on 2014-02-06

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.

12 Responses to “Stolen Roadtrek recovered: The victim’s story”

February 12, 2014at3:06 am, Stella Hardin said:

Would some aluminum sheet metal brackets bent to 98 deg be useful? I know a guy with a very nice CNC brake press. I need to finalize my solar panel brackets and was thinking 12 gauge. Maybe there is enough room to nest your parts in the drops.

February 10, 2014at7:55 pm, Nyla Walsh said:

Dennis sure had some luck, both good and bad! This idea will not prevent the theft but might help the police find and identify them if they do go for a ride without you!. RV & CAR INFO MAKE: MODEL -YEAR :LICENSE#: COLOR: VIN #:
We carry a business card with photos of both our RV and tow on one side and this information on the other side in our wallets. Just saying how many of us remember our license # let alone vin #? Having these items at your finger tips will save you time getting help.

February 10, 2014at6:33 pm, Mr Frank Grasha said:

A good theft deterrent for any Fuel injected veh that is parked overnight or for an extended stop during the day is to replace the fuel pump fuse with a blown one ! Even an experienced mechanic will take awile to discovery the reason the veh wont start Bad guys dont like delays and most will leave before trying to diagnois and locate problems !

February 06, 2014at8:14 pm, Maureen said:

I have never used a club steering wheel lock but sounds to be a great idea. There must be something on the TS system that could provide an alert…..anybody know? Glad the CS was returned to Dennis without too much damage. Happy trekking.

February 06, 2014at5:16 pm, Roger said:

So happy to hear your RV was recovered intact. I was also wondering if alarm systems are available for RVs. I’ve never seen them mentioned as options on manufacturer sites. Just assumed there wasn’t much demand for them. A Class B Mercedes chassis RV though is definitely an eye-catching vehicle and might be more of a temptation to a bad guy looking for a quick get-away and some fast money at a chop-shop. The club steering wheel lock idea is a good one. Might slow-them down at least, but a loud siren might make ’em beat feet the other way.

February 06, 2014at1:56 pm, Pam Hicks said:

So glad this RT was recovered! About the recall, Mike – you mentioned that RT made the recall. Does this mean that it was a problem to do with the RT modifications, & not a Sprinter problem?

February 06, 2014at1:02 pm, Rolland said:

Know how this man feels….but, I am keeping a positive outlook and focusing on what has to be done.

February 06, 2014at10:07 am, Marty Windle said:

Just sold my older roadtrek, and miss it already. Learned a trick from another roadtrekker, and used the “club” steering wheel lock for added safety.

February 06, 2014at8:55 am, mark kremer said:

Just curious, I know burglar alarms are pretty cheap for the unit and Installation. I wonder if it would of helped if Dennis had one ?
This story saddens me because you work so hard your whole life to save up for something so nice as a roadtrek and in an instant, It’s gone.

February 06, 2014at8:11 am, Mike Wendland said:

We’ve invited Dennis to Pogo’s Smokin’ on the Bayou Feb. 21-23 at Shepard State Park in Gautier, MS – Address: Gautier, MS 39553
Phone:(228) 497-2244

February 06, 2014at8:05 am, Lisa said:

Dennis, thanks for sharing your story. It’s just things. Hard to lose a computer, etc. but smsll in proportion to living your dream.

Mike, maybe you could get Dennis in touch with Laura &Ken P. They should be in that area now.

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