I’ve written about this before but it’s time for a refresher because people are traveling again and if this happens to you, it twill ruin your vacation. My buddy and professional photographer, Pete Halvorsen, shared a very important reminder when he retweeted a colleague (@JoeGreer) who wrote: “we are safe but our road trip had a devastating ending 2 days in. stopped at battery spencer Park in SF for five minutes to snap some pictures came back to our car windows smashed, suitcases, cameras, all film, all computers, hard drives, all gone. continued….”

Joe goes into detail about what he and the others lost but reading the thread, which has over 800 comments, many with similar experiences, is really eye-opening. Remember: This kind of thing doesn’t just happen in San Francisco but it does seem like it’s an epidemic there.

@MommyBiggas wrote a very important reminder: “When in San Francisco never leave anything in plain view, happened to me while doing a college visit at USF, 5 minutes is all they need.”

Another person, @Alessio_Joseph, wrote: “yesterday was having drinks with friends outdoors in the mission, a black Audi pulled up right across from us and 2 guys in all black with hoods/masks hopped out, smashed the window of an SUV and grabbed 3 suitcases and peeled out—whole thing took about 20-30 seconds.”

This is scary stuff for travelers and so you really have to think twice about leaving anything of value in your car even if it’s just for five minutes. And especially if you have out-of-state plates.

The best way to prevent road trip theft is obviously to never leave anything of value inside your car. But also, never go into the trunk to put something in or take something out when you arrive at a destination. Plan ahead so you can avoid doing this and indicating to people who may be watching that you’ve got stuff back there. Another is this brilliant reader tip on how to protect your belongings.

Pete went on to say: “at some point, everyone will just leave their windows down and doors unlocked with nothing inside.” But that will most likely lead to whole list of other problems.

When I mentioned this on Leo Laporte’s  show The Tech Guy, a user in the chat room said: “a cop told me I should leave the glove compartment door open.” That sounds like a much better idea.

Have you ever had your stuff stolen in San Francisco or somewhere else? Leave a comment below.

Open Your Trunk Before Arriving
Never Get Your Valuables Stolen On The Beach
The New Way to Prevent Items in Your Car From Getting Stolen

8 Comments On "How to Prevent Road Trip Theft"
  1. paul|

    Use a bike cable lock and connect it to the seatback (suv) or anything solid within the trunk.

    Etronic Bike Lock M6, Cable Lock 6 Feet Long Coiled Security Resettable Combo Combination Lock Bicycle Lock

  2. Raymond Hale|

    This is an epidemic in SF because many thefts are decriminalized due to value and further it doesn’t seem like the police investigate. The only time my car was broken into in SF was when it was in my garage. Moved to Newport Beach 3 months ago and I’m not looking back.

  3. Kay|

    We stopped at an In-N-Out burger in Davis, CA on our way to Napa and were inside eating when our rental car was victim of a “smash and grab”. They broke the back side window and took the 2 small totes that contained all of our valuables that we had carried on the plane: expensive jewelry, iPad, Kindle, prescription medicines, etc. It was a very upsetting way to start our trip and needless to say, we don’t ever want to return!!

    1. Johnny Jet|

      Awful. Just awful

  4. Ginger|

    My car was broken into when I went to retrieve my mail from my mailbox at the Post Office in Seattle. Because I am handicap and had my placard on my review mirror I was parked in front of the P.O. door… it took them 2 minutes to break my window and steal my backpack with all documents and money, CC, etc.. for my trip back east that I was leaving for late that afternoon. 2 minutes and I saw them both.. a man and woman. They knew I was disabled but they didn’t care. Police in Seattle its a low priority to get them which has led to the Seattle resident call for defunding the SPD. This is why hand gun purchases are up in Seattle and WA state. We are tired of the B.S.
    Johnny just wanted say I enjoy your website and podcasts

    1. Johnny Jet|

      Ugh! What POS. I’m so sorry to hear this.

  5. Havrilla|

    Just one question: How does one go on a Road Trip and have nothing in the vehicle, as recommended?

    1. Johnny Jet|

      Go to your hotel first to unload bags before making stops

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