advice on if extra van security is needed in Spain

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I've got a VW Crafter and am heading to Spain for winter cragging.

I've been warned (a few times) that there's targeted theft from vans around Spanish crags.

I'd love to hear people's opinions about if that's unlucky / but not likely - or a death problem and 'get yourself;f deadlocks fitted now).

I hope this doesn't stir up a honest nest.


 Chris Craggs Global Crag Moderator  UKC Supporter 22 Nov 2021
In reply to Claire Carpenter:

We had the back window on the car smashed last winter at Redovan. There was nothing of value in there but I made the mistake of leaving the cover closed. They also took the documents folder from under the mat - but fortunately dumped it after a couple of hundred metres as it had nothing of value in it either.

€330 for a new window 😩


 TheGeneralist 22 Nov 2021
In reply to Claire Carpenter:

I don't have experience of Spain specifically, but loads of other places. My initial view is that unless you have an ex-securicor van then beefing it up is entirely the wrong way to go.

When I was with the Germans in Finale years ago they would do everything they could to make their vehicles as undesirable as possible and as empty as possible. They removed the seat bases from the seats they weren't using, the fairings off the motorbikes etc.  Whenever they parked up they would leave all the windows open, the doors  unlocked and nothing in  the car of value.  The one day Uri did lock his door it was screwdrivered open.

When I park in 'bleau these days I open all the cupboards and glove box, remove the rear parcel shelf ( part of the bed) and ensure there is nothing that looks like it is trying to be hidden.

(I don't leave it unlocked as that would probably invalidate the insurance.)

How well can you fortify your van?

Are you just changing it from 30second withstand to 2 minute withstand?

If the crag is 20 minutes walk away, is that actually of benefit...

( TBHmy experience is very out of date, so just offering it as a point of view, not claiming it is current)

Post edited at 12:34
 Only a Crag 22 Nov 2021
In reply to Only a Crag:

Wow!! Legal in South Africa if acting in self-defence!! Oscar P eat your heart out

In reply to Claire Carpenter:

If it’s any consolation we’ve never had our van broken in about 10 years of visiting Spain with the van. We do expect it to be broken in some day hence we have a safety box, but it hasn’t happen so far. However if you have a VW or a Sprinter you might be more of a target than my 06 Movano

 ChrisJD 22 Nov 2021
In reply to Claire Carpenter:

in many decades of vanning/traveling around Europe in summer hols and winter breaks (including separate trips to Northern Spain & Spanish/French Pyrenees), we've only had one incident at a busy (tourist) beach car park on the north Spain coast; VW van sliding window punched out (we put it back intact, thankfully) ... they went through our stuff quickly and stole 20 euros from my sons wallet (he was pretty annoyed, poor lad).

On our current van we do have new door barrel lock/plate and an ODB Port box.  And really big chains for the bikes when parked up.

But nothing will stop determined thieves (either of contents or of whole van); all you can do is make your van look a little bit too annoying to have a go at.

You can get under seat safes as well.

Had our spare wheel stolen (from under van) in the UK.

In reply to Claire Carpenter:

Fit 2x GPS trackers, a sacrificial one in an obvious place and a real one hidden away somewhere. This might help recover the van if the the thing is stolen. 

 bandit12 22 Nov 2021
In reply to Claire Carpenter:

Obviously it can happen but we've never had a problem at Spanish crags in 10 or so years of van trips, typically 2 to 3 months per year. Was broken into twice in our old VW van in France, once at Font and once at service station near Calais. We do have a deadlock on the rear door, as this is the only access to our "boot" area where we keep climbing gear etc. We also have a hidden bolted down safe. Generally we just use common sense and don't leave phones, wallets etc in vehicle or on view. 

 Ciro 23 Nov 2021
In reply to Claire Carpenter:

Depends where you go - if you go down near the beaches during tourist season, or visit the cities, you're running the risk of getting broken into but I've never seen anyone getting done over at inland Spanish crags away from the tourists.

I've been broken into twice - once in Barcelona and the other in Finale... There's gangs that just roam the med coast during tourist season but they're not there otherwise so just time your visits to these sort of crags.

 ian caton 23 Nov 2021
In reply to Claire Carpenter

Is it any different to the uk? Perhaps where it is super touristy. Had vehicles broken into aplenty in uk, never in Spain. But always leave van super tidy inside. Nothing visible through windows. Valuables dead locked in the back. Same as i do here.

Only exception was font. Door lock was picked. They stole posh food, not the fresh baguette, and relocked the door, but knackered the fridge lid!!!! 

 Jenny C 23 Nov 2021
In reply to ChrisJD:

> Had our spare wheel stolen (from under van) in the UK.

I know someone who had that with a T4 and I think it's a really bad design from VW. Our spare wheel is also underneath, but the bolt holding it in place is released from inside the back doors, so unless they cut the cage to get the wheel out or break into the van itself its secure.

Edit - 'sausage finger' spelling

Post edited at 08:57
 ChrisJD 23 Nov 2021
In reply to Jenny C:

On a Transit Custom they just cut the wire cable from underneath ... and then the wheel drops.

Ford are just lazy .. same with their useless door lock barrels on the Custom, that people have to swap out just to repel a pair of mole grips. [current models may be better]

Post edited at 10:07
In reply to Claire Carpenter:

This vid has a few good suggestions:

I think I'll be adding bolts to the rear and front doors to lock internally and just use the sliding door for exit when we leave it somewhere.

Post edited at 10:22
 Climb Psyched 23 Nov 2021
In reply to Claire Carpenter:

Hi Claire,

I take a van to Spain most winters. 

If someone wants to get in your van they will just smash a window. 

I’ve had vans with and without deadlocks. Armad locks being the best ones I’ve fitted. Not got any extra security on the van I’m taking over next week.

If you’re headed to Costa Blanca, Malaga, Valencia etc then there’s a few common things to look out for.

If someone is standing at your van and trying to get you over to it to show you a flat tyre then walk away. They distract and rob you. 

Don’t stop if people try to flag you down. They can do this by waiting at the side of the road or by driving next to you. 

It’s hard to know where to park when food shopping. Larger carparks seem to get more thefts. For example Carrefour much more common than Lidl. 

If extra security will make you less anxious then it’s worth it. GPS as someone suggested not a bad shout or just get a steering lock and pedal lock. I’ve not known anyone to have a van stolen but plenty break ins. No more than North Wales or the Peak though. 



 henwardian 23 Nov 2021
In reply to Claire Carpenter:

Well done. You have created a thread to fill all van owners with paranoia and terror!

It's worth saying that you are almost certainly seeing an extremely biased response because people with experience of having vans broken into are probably 100 times more likely to post a reply than people who see the thread and just think "nah, it'll be fine".

Before investing in obvious security measures like chains and extra exterior locks, I'd strongly suggest using google to find some sort of empirical study that shows if these actually act as a deterrent, trying to though-experiment the problem doesn't work because you (and this probably goes for everyone who posted) don't think in the same way as someone who breaks into vans for a living.

And as someone else already pointed out, there really isn't anything you can do to stop someone breaking a window.

My 2 cents: I've been an many extended trips to Spain, Italy and France and I've only ever had a vehicle broken into once (touchwood) and it was up a dirt track about half a km away from an isolated single-track road in the far N or Scotland. Go figure. They smashed the window btw, so nothing anyone has advised would have made a blind bit of difference.

Other people I've spoken to make much more of the process of making sure nothing worth stealing is visible and glove boxes, etc. are all open, rather than adding extra security measures to the van.

 ChrisJD 24 Nov 2021
In reply to henwardian:

> Well done. You have created a thread to fill all van owners with paranoia and terror!

I thought the responses were pretty calm and played down the risk

In reply to TheGeneralist:

>Are you just changing it from 30second withstand to 2 minute withstand?

Honestly, this is 90% of van security, making someone else's van an easier target. 

You're never going to stop a thief, but you can make them target someone else. 

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