Table of Contents
- significant crime including assaults whilst camping or bushwalking in most parts of Australia is RARE!
- be sensible, don't take expensive gear to show off, take basic precautions, be nice, and have fun
- de-escalate moments of tension, especially when people are hot, tired, stressed, and/or drunk
- ensure your behavioural expectations and boundaries are clear, particularly to those who may be in your camping party - acquaintances are far more likely to transgress these than strangers - so make sure they know!
- if you want to really annoy fellow campers and risk them stealing your stuff to teach you a lesson - do NOT ghost camp!
- ghost camping is setting up on a site, usually just prior to a peak period, leaving it there so it is “booked” and then returning in 24hrs or more
- it is not a fair go and you will not win any friends!
- if you really can't get there to camp early enough to get a site then BOOK a site well in advance at a paid camp ground - such as Parks Vic or a commercial park - you will not have to rush and your stress levels will be far less
- the main security risk whilst camping is petty thefts and break and enter into caravans or tents
- there will always be those who seek to take advantage of vulnerability or opportunity for theft and complacency of campers is a major contributor to risk of petty theft
- some motivated thieves known to police had detailed knowledge of various makes of caravans and knew how to enter a van where people were asleep without making the van rock. Caravans are easy targets for break and enter - door locks are often minimalistic while areas of canvas or vinyl can be slashed with a knife. A determined professional caravan thief will probably be able to steal your van no matter what security systems you put in place, but they will deter most others.
Theft of caravans or in caravan parks
- caravans within caravan parks appear to be safer than caravans parked in other areas such as roadside stops or at private residences, even so, caravan parks in town centres are more likely to experience trespass by, and petty theft, by groups of teenagers especially over summer school holidays. Camp sites more at risk are those along park boundaries especially in urban parks or parks near highways without security fences, security lighting and boom gates for entrance/exit. This is particularly so if there is a nearby hotel or a place nearby where local teenagers can congregate such as a public car park. Some towns around Australia have particular high rates of theft and break and enter from local teenagers such as Tennant Creek in NT. Although uncommon in Australia, caravans can also be easily stolen by towing away hence one should consider using hitch locks to prevent this.
- petty theft in caravan parks is relatively common and tends to include clothing from clotheslines or washing machines, alcohol and food from eskies, bicycles, surf-boards, wetsuits, fishing rods and other sporting equipment, mobile phones, laptop computers, wallets and handbags, generators, tools, barbeques and gas bottles.1)
- use common sense and situational awareness to minimise risks and if a campground does not feel safe, perhaps choose another
How to minimise theft
- some general tips to reduce theft:
- don't taking unnecessary valuables on camp trips
- if you are just going for a few nights, leave your laptops at home (your smartphone should suffice)
- only take enough emergency cash plus perhaps only one credit card or none at all if you wont be needing petrol or food
- don't take jewellery or watches - they are generally useless on a camping trip
- only take the camera gear you think you will really use
- perhaps choose a camp site that is not too close to a major thoroughfare as the more who walk past (or worse, through your tent site), the greater the opportunities to be tempted to steal
- avoid isolated camp sites as these are too readily open to theft when unattended
- do not leave valuables in tents or under the awning but in locked cars out of sight
- ensure bikes are locked
- get to know your neighbours and hopefully you will look out for each other
- note that car break-ins or car theft are more likely:
- where cars are needed to be left overnight unattended relatively close to urban areas
- where items of value such as smartphones, iPads, laptops, etc are visible
- the car is left unlocked
- car keys left near the car or a spare set in the car (your vehicle may not be insured if you leave a set of keys in a safety lock on the outside of your car while you surf!)
- older cars without modern security features
- in remote camp sites where no one else is around
- use hitch locks on caravans or trailers to prevent them being towed away
- consider a security system such as Witi on your caravan which can lock the brakes, etc
- if camping solo away from other campers, take two chairs to make it look like you are with someone, and consider a second decoy tent
security cameras whilst camping - probably don't bother!
- an obvious security camera or dash cam while camping may not deter thieves as they may just decide that is their target and do a smash and grab thereby taking all the evidence
- motion detection using PIR technology does NOT work when the camera is behind glass such as a windscreen!
- you could set it to continuously record all night but this will drain your battery
- if you decide to use a camera, take care NOT to invade the privacy of other campers!
- these are generally not worthwhile unless you are leaving a caravan unattended for long periods in which case you could go for a full van security system with immediate uploads of events to the internet
- obviously this not only requires constant power but also 4G mobile internet capability and subscription
- there are many 4G outdoor security cameras available but they may not discourage determined thieves and risk being vandalised or stolen
- one could be tempted to use a trailcam or a security camera but these are generally obvious and the thief just needs to steal the trailcam as well to remove the evidence which will be on the mSD card
- a home security WiFi camera will require a power source and often will ONLY work if there is a constant WiFi router connection (your phone's personal hotspot may not work with many devices and these devices are often designed to stop recording once WiFi connection is lost)
- a tip to allow your iPhone to act as the WiFi source when camping for some cameras is to change the name of your iPhone to the SSID of your home's WiFi where you originally set up the WiFi camera, then set your personal hotspot on your iPhone to on and change the password to the password of your home WiFi - however this does not work on many WiFi security cameras and for these you may need to resort to an old 4G hotspot for Wifi only (uses about 0.5-0.6W for WiFi only)
- a vehicle dash cam might be of limited use if you aim it at your tent and it is designed to work when the car is not running via an auxiliary battery but it may not be adequately visible to act as a deterrent
major crimes at cap grounds or whilst hiking
- fortunately major crime at camp grounds or on bush walks is a very uncommon problem in Australia2) (you are far more likely to be injured in accidents or assaulted by acquaintances, family or friends, or in urban areas, than by a stranger in a campground or whilst hiking) but it has rarely occurred, recent examples include:
- 4yr old girl abducted from her separate tent in a camp ground in Canarvon, WA in 2021 - after some weeks she was fortunately found alive
- retiree couple murdered whilst camping in the very remote Wonnangatta region, Victoria Mar 2020 - alleged murderer was eventually charged in Nov 2021
- British tourists Joanne Lees and Peter Falconio were assaulted near Barrow Creek, Northern Territory by Bradley John Murdoch in 2001 and Murdoch was charged with Falconio's murder.
- 30th Dec 2023, a woman sleeping in a car with another female traveler on a WA beach car park near Esperance was allegedly sexually assaulted by someone who opened the car door then fled away 3)
australia/camping_security.txt · Last modified: 2024/01/16 12:24 by gary1