camping grounds


There have been camping horror stories circulating for as long as I can remember. While I have never had anything stolen in my years of camping, I have heard of several people who have fallen victim to theft while enjoying a camping vacation.

99% of campers are some of the most helpful and kind people I have ever encountered. However, as with anything, there are a few who are out for personal gain, and unattended tents in a campsite are a gold mine for these crooks. Here are some tips to help keep your gear safe when you’re camping.


When you are relaxing at the campsite, keep your belongings close to you. If your possessions are scattered across the campsite it makes it much easier for someone to grab your things and make a dash for it without you being immediately aware. This is especially the case if there is a lot of foot traffic near your campsite and is more likely when you are staying at a larger, more popular caravan and camping site.

An unattended item away from the rest of your belongings might be tempting to opportunists if they think they can make an easy getaway and you won’t notice it’s gone right away.


If there is a car to keep your valuables in, use it. If something is important to you, make sure it is not left unattended at the campsite. In busy campsites, it is also worth locking anything valuable away at night. Although this isn’t ideal and can be irritating, taking a little extra time to keep your belongings secure is always worth it. There have been cases of people having their stuff pinched at night while they sleep a few feet away. If it’s important to you, don’t risk losing it to thieves.


In my experience, campers look out for each other and far more likely to provide help than wrong you. Have a chat with your neighbours. If they know your face and who is in your group, they may notice anyone suspicious or out of place and be able to raise the alarm. Similarly, if you see anyone around their site who looks like they don’t belong go and investigate.

Usually for campsite thieves, just knowing they’ve been spotted by a neighbour who might be able to remember their face is enough to deter them from carrying out their mischief.


For larger items that are left outside like barbeques or portable fridges, chaining them up with a good padlock is a wise move. Bikes, barbeques and fridges have all been known to walk away in the middle of the night and a padlock should provide a sufficient deterrent to opportunistic criminals. A lock for around $10 (the best even come with a built-in alarm) should do the trick and prevent you waking up to find your portable fridge has mysteriously gone walkabout in the night.


If you own a caravan or a trailer, a wheel-lock clamp prevents the wheels from moving and will keep the caravan from being stolen. You can also get GPS tracking technology for your caravan so if you are the unfortunate victim of a theft, the chances of having it returned to you are much higher.


If you are the victim of a theft, make sure you report the incident to the camping area authorities and the police immediately and check your insurance policies to see if you are covered for the losses. Some home insurance policies include theft of possessions outdoors. Never assume you are covered for everything. It’s really easy to get yourself covered with short term travel insurance even when you are only travelling inside Australia. It’s well worth it. It’s also well worth making sure you create an inventory of the items you are taking with you before you go, including photographs. There’s nothing like having an inventory with receipts and photographs for an insurance claim. Talk to your insurance provider because they will probably give you a discount if you follow their suggestions.

If you see a theft taking place, take stock of the situation. Confronting a thief usually involves them fleeing the scene, but it could give rise to an unwanted situation, so be aware and weigh up the danger of the situation. This is where cameras in phones often come to great use. Confrontation is not always the right way to go. Calling out loudly “DROP WHAT YOU HAVE STOLEN NOW” is also more effective than anything else. Always remember to use loud and clear commands when confronting a stranger in such a case.


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Oli Ward

Oli has camped and hiked his way around Australia and most of Europe. He also loves writing about his experiences and sharing his knowledge.