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meadowsweet

Theft - Stay vigilant

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Some friends were refuelling on a service area on their way home to the tunnel. Passengers not in car and car windows open. Their bag was taken with passports and cash while back turned at pump. Gendarme came nothing on CCTV 2 hours at police station. Luckily the bag was found abandoned still with passports but sans cash.  They were travelling non stop from Dordogne so were tired and also I think it is easy to get relaxed on holiday e.g walking to shower block and leaving caravan unlocked. We did it on every site we stayed on over the past 7 weeks although I did feel very safe and had hidden passports. 

 

Probably obvious to all readers of this forum but bears restating.

 

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Totally agree here or abroad tourists get lapsed in security with lack of locks .

 

 

Dave

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Off to Spain at the end of next week via France, I'll put my daughter and her friend out on Sentry duty every time we stop :ph34r:

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Although I never leave the outfit unattended I find my dog acts as a deterrent to people getting near the outfit.

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It wasn't the outfit, it was the car.

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Happens here too...friends lost their Saab and Carlight at Bluewater on way home.....Oh and a £1000 of wine and beer..hitch lock was on but they left it unattended.

 

geoff

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Friends of ours were in a filling station Spain and someone came up and asked them directions whilst an accomplice made away with her handbag and another bag and a jacket which included passports, driving licences cash & credit cards. They were lying on the back seat of their car.

 

Make sure you spread stuff around so it's not all in one place, one pocket or one bag and keep valuable on your person in a zipped pocket or secure place like a hidden money belt, not in the car unless it's secured in the boot or a bum bag which can be cut off in a trice.

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After having our caravan step stolen during the night on a site almost entirely used by other brits  at Ouistreham Camping Riva Bella and I am as sure as I can be it was another Brit  waiting for the ferry like us.

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It matters not who the nationality of the thief is, it matters that there are thieves around. 

 

We we have always been lucky so far, my friend not so much. Lost his 3k carbon road bike last year in France. Snipped through the lock and gone. 

 

Always take the usual precautions like not leaving anything unattended and out of sight. 

 

Not a French problem either, plenty of stuff getting nicked here too. :-( 

 

 

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4 hours ago, shipbroker said:

....hitch lock was on but they left it unattended.... 

 

Sadly, the clue is 'unattended' ... there is criminality everywhere. 

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4 hours ago, shipbroker said:

Happens here too...friends lost their Saab and Carlight at Bluewater on way home.....Oh and a £1000 of wine and beer..hitch lock was on but they left it unattended.

 

geoff

 

Did they leave the car keys in the Saab?

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10 hours ago, ancell said:

 

Did they leave the car keys in the Saab?

No and they had the hitch keys with them too....

Very professional!

 

Geoff

 

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12 hours ago, David in Cheshire said:

After having our caravan step stolen during the night on a site almost entirely used by other brits  at Ouistreham Camping Riva Bella and I am as sure as I can be it was another Brit  waiting for the ferry like us.

 

How did they get the locks off on a campsite without beeing noticed?

 

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1 hour ago, shipbroker said:

No and they had the hitch keys with them too....

Very professional!

 

Geoff

 

This was Bluewater Shopping Centre not a campsite......low loader perhaps?

Geoff

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57 minutes ago, shipbroker said:

No and they had the hitch keys with them too....

Very professional!

 

Geoff

 

I've seen a report on a Trailer Tent Forum of thieves using lithium battery powered grinders to remove hitch locks. IIRC, the cutting wheel makes short work of the task! And if anyone challenges the thieves [odds are that they'll have hivis vests with fake vehicle recovery logo?], a hapless shrug of the shoulders and a cheery 'lost the keys between our last site and here. £x call out and £80 for a replacement hitch lock is going to make this an expensive day!' ...

 

Just got to do the explanation with confidence and a dose of plausibility!

Steve

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1 minute ago, marchie1053 said:

I've seen a report on a Trailer Tent Forum of thieves using lithium battery powered grinders to remove hitch locks. IIRC, the cutting wheel makes short work of the task! And if anyone challenges the thieves [odds are that they'll have hivis vests with fake vehicle recovery logo?], a hapless shrug of the shoulders and a cheery 'lost the keys between our last site and here. £x call out and £80 for a replacement hitch lock is going to make this an expensive day!' ...

 

Just got to do the explanation with confidence and a dose of plausibility!

Steve

From my own experience on my caravan it take just over 2 minutes to remove an Alko hitch lock and 3 minutes to remove a bulldog wheel clamp with a portable grinder.

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2 hours ago, shipbroker said:

This was Bluewater Shopping Centre not a campsite......low loader perhaps?

Geoff

 

Pulled in to Ferrybridge services with our Swift Challenger intending to go for lunch.

Before we got the hitch lock on a white unlettered transit crew cab pulled up on one side I noticed it was carrying scrap metal of all types ie domestic & industrial.

We stopped our attempt at lunch😀.

Driver got on his mobile as The Wife headed for the loo & carry out.

A battered Hilux parked beside us now both drivers on their mobiles paying no heed to each other’s presence.

When they saw we did not intend to leave the caravan unattended both left at the same time.

Not one of the six males in sight got out either vehicle.

3 hours ago, shipbroker said:

No and they had the hitch keys with them too....

Very professional!

 

Geoff

 

 

The Alko hitch lock looks vulnerable to a hit with a big hammer in the right place.

The Saab-perhaps an ambulance two wheel trailer?

As you say professionals.

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How secure are the Alko wheel locks then?

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Posted (edited)

You need utmost awareness and two sets of eyes at French motorway service stations. They are rife with criminality and brazen criminality. The perpetrators are typically migrants and the methods ruthless.

 

Last year (sans caravan) we had someone squirt vegetable oil on a rear brake disk and then point out to us a brake leak. As we prepared to examine the wheel, an accomplice was thwarted trying to open the drivers door by a Brit in the car next to us.

 

They then scarpered but they'd already stuck a screwdriver in his rear tyre wall. He had a Merc, no spare tyre and expected a two hundred quid bill.

 

Pretty scary.

 

I'll try to dig out my facebook post of the time.

Here was my original FB entry:

 

Fine welcome to France....

Now, we've known for a while not to leave our caravans un-attended at French Service Areas but today really took the biscuit...

The lesson - don't leave your car un-attended and keep your eyes wide open at all times.

We pulled into the service area near Arras on the A26, around 14:00 for a picnic lunch, parking next to a Merc with UK plates. Fairly busy and it was a fully serviced Aire.

We ate in the car and afterwards I headed to the toilets, leaving R in the car reading her phone. When I returned, a chap was pointing at my rear wheel which had an oily liquid dripping from it. He helped clean it off and suggested I drove it around the car park to see if the problem re-occurred. He then wandered off and the folks in the Merc, who had returned a little earlier, said he'd been looking suspiciously in the car and they'd told him to push off. He apparently had some accomplices in the trees near by. A closer look at the wheel suggested the oily liquid (probably vegetable oil) had been squirted from a bottle so clearly he wasn't there as a good Samaritan.

Brake fluid level was normal so we decided to head off at a steady pace. On the slip road out, the Merc driver was pulled up with a flat tyre. We stopped to help and tried to pump it up with our compressor. No luck, the trye had a slit in the side from a screwdriver.

Checked our tyre pressures and saw the wheel with the oil was 6 psi lower. The guy had let air out and was expecting the alarms to go off on our drive around the car park. Presumably he hadn't burst the tyre as the noise would have aroused R's attention.

Then we'd have been robbed whilst we attended to the deflated tyre.

You are warned... all in full daylight and it turns out we were the lucky ones...

Edited by PandR

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1 hour ago, chris76 said:

How secure are the Alko wheel locks then?

 

Insurance companies give discount for the Alko wheel lock.

It would take a minute or two more to remove it rather than the usual external “leg” type lock.

This lock will certainly deter a casual thief.

Easy for a tooled up mobile thief with a waiting buyer.

I always fit ours on our driveway and on all our pitches.

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So, PandR, one incident tells you that "French motorway service stations.... are rife with criminality and brazen criminality. The perpetrators are typically migrants"

 

We've stopped many many times at service stations (but not overnight) and have never experienced anything like that.

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On 10/07/2019 at 12:39, ancell said:

The Alko hitch lock looks vulnerable to a hit with a big hammer in the right place.

The Saab-perhaps an ambulance two wheel trailer?

As you say professionals.

A big hit with a lump hammer will not shift this ALKO hitch lock.

12 hours ago, PandR said:

You need utmost awareness and two sets of eyes at French motorway service stations. They are rife with criminality and brazen criminality. The perpetrators are typically migrants and the methods ruthless.

 

Last year (sans caravan) we had someone squirt vegetable oil on a rear brake disk and then point out to us a brake leak. As we prepared to examine the wheel, an accomplice was thwarted trying to open the drivers door by a Brit in the car next to us.

 

They then scarpered but they'd already stuck a screwdriver in his rear tyre wall. He had a Merc, no spare tyre and expected a two hundred quid bill.

 

Pretty scary.I

 

See here for our experience.  I think we were lucky. 

 

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11 minutes ago, Durbanite said:

A big hit with a lump hammer will not shift this ALKO hitch lock.

 

 

Yes, but there are ways, which I won't go into on a public forum, of towing a caravan without removing a hitchlock!

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3 hours ago, iansoady said:

So, PandR, one incident tells you that "French motorway service stations.... are rife with criminality and brazen criminality. The perpetrators are typically migrants"

 

We've stopped many many times at service stations (but not overnight) and have never experienced anything like that.

Not really. That was from other French people at the services corroborated by French friends. The worst affected services appear to be closer to the major conurbations particularly if they can be accessed on foot.

The police weren't interested btw.

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We had an experience at a petrol station in Spain when someone tried let air out of a tire while she was sitting in the car. She went out and waived to me and I started running back with the dog and they decided to split!

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