Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Living in the Roadtrek - Security Part II

This is the second in a two part article on securing the contents of the Roadtrek from potential crime. Part I was last week's article.


We needed a way to close off the view from the front of the van. The first thing we tried was a mylar sunscreen sold at most auto stores and box store auto departments. It unrolls and holds into the windshield under the visors to keep the sun out while parked. This worked, but was a pain the neck to put up every time we stopped. We saw a large Class A RV in a parking lot that had curtains inside the driver's cab that went all around the windshield and the windows. We could not find anything like that made for the Roadtrek. Of course, as I said in Part I, the Roadtrek comes with curtains that cover the windows in the front doors and windshield, but closing them takes a bit of effort, as does securing them back again for traveling. No, we wanted something just as easy as the back curtain that we made. Actually, Meryl made. (She is not only a great embroiderer, but sews exceptionally as well - she is a prize winning doll maker.)

It was back to Walmart for another flat sheet in black. My first idea was a curtain that went up over the windshield - and we actually did make one. There is little metal in the front at the ceiling for magnets. We used the metal arms at the top corner of the visors. It did not hold well. It was easy to get up and take down - but so easy that it had a tendency to come down on its own. Plus with this design the door windows were uncovered and there was a clear view inside of the cabinets. No, the curtain had to be positioned so that while the front cab was visible nothing behind it would be. Seeing the inside of the cab is not a problem - it is a van after all and that is all you would be able to see.

The curtain we designed is made to hook on the front of the sliding drawer that we have in our Roadtrek over the front cab. This drawer is an option and well worth the cost. It adds storage space in a place that has no use otherwise. In this photo you can see the curtain in place at the front of the Roadtrek looking at it from the middle. You can see the drawer there at the top going across. This drawer pulls toward the back of the Roadtrek and the door pulls down on a long hinge to access the inside storage. The fabric is hemmed all around and there are plastic rings sewn in to hook it in place. The hooks are from the Scotch company and are from the Command line - these can be removed if you want to and will not damage the finish where the adhesive stuck - or so they claim (I have not removed one so I don't know). When in place the curtain still let a small view in from the front passenger window so Meryl added a small piece of Velcro to the right side and the matching velcro to the Roadtrek curtain for the Roadtrek entrance door window. When it is fastened and that entrance door curtain is closed (easy to slide and snap in place), there nothing is visible in the Roadtrek area.

Opening and closing this curtain is easy. When not in use it hangs behind the driver's seat from the left hook. The photo on the left shows the curtain being put away for travel - the part hanging over the seat is just for you to see what has to be tucked back. It all does hang completely behind the seat and is not in the way. At night the curtain comes down when we are using the front seats to lounge in.

Below you see what it looks like with the curtain in place from the outside and what it looks like with no curtain.

I mentioned the curtain on the side entrance door. This door is behind the passenger door. It is the main entrance to the living section of the Roadtrek and that door has a window. The curtain on that window is very easy. Here is a photo of that curtain when closed.

This photo also gives you a good view of how the window curtains snap closed. They slide on a track at the top and bottom of the window.

With the back and front "security" curtains that we made closed, no one can see anything inside but a van. Of course, there are things that you may want to hide in the front section where the driver and passenger sit. The GPS does come out of the dash and can be hidden. A jacket thrown casually over anything is a good cover up - and looks like nothing more than a sloppy van.

I said in part one that I would get back to personal security in the Roadtrek. This is my advice. If you are staying overnight in a parking lot, a forest, a rest area, or any place that is not a populated campground, keep your van keys nearby while you are inside or if you are in bed asleep. If you hear anything that you feel is someone trying to break in, get in the drivers seat and drive away. Look out the window, but never open the door. Drive away. If you are in a campground and hooked up, lean on the horn and keep blowing it. Someone will wake up and come to yell at you and at the same time the crook will run away. Your key remote has a panic button that honks the horn. You can use this if you can't get to the steering wheel. Then call the police.

I know that some carry guns - there are different gun laws in every state. Some carry mace or pepper spray. Some states have laws about this too. If you are going to use either of these that means you are face to face with an attacker and you never really want to be in that position. It is not like it is in the movies. I am not going to get into detail about this. Avoid it.It is the best course of action.

Some Roadtrek owners get alarms and the one most talked about is the Viper Alarm. This will protect the van when you are out or in. There is a remote that will sound the alarm from inside if you need help. The alarm is wired into the electric system of the Roadtrek and the van. I have been told that Best Buy will install this in a Roadtrek. As I am in an area where no one has ever seen a Roadtrek, I am not sure I want the kid who installs stereos at Best Buy rewiring my Roadtrek. The alarm is not a bad idea - and if I knew the installation would be done correctly I would put one in.


  1. Your curtains are great. I use a tension rod (hangs just over the front seats) and drape fabric (sometimes just a big bath sheet) to achieve the blocking of view. I am also using a tension rod in the back for short curtains (blocking view) since I have my back door screen in place all the time and it is easy to reach. You should investigate the EZlift apparatus to help with lowering and raising the continental wheel. It has saved me alot.
    Sherry T
    2009 C190P
    Melbourne, Fl

    1. Our plan for early this coming RV season is to get the EZlift installed on our Roadtrek.

  2. OK ... so I did comment too soon. My curtain and rod system is similar to yours and the previous commenter. When I open it up it hangs behind the driver seat out of the way. I have MCR roller blinds on my other windows. I can quickly run around and close them if needed. I find that all my coach windows are blackout windows and one would have to have their face scrunched against the windows, which are fairly high, to see in. If I am gone for any length of time I will close all the blinds ... otherwise I rely on the dark windows.

    I have to agree with you about the alarm system. I don't have much confidence in Best Buy or any of the other electronic shops to do any work on my system. Mercedes does have an alarm system ... that I wish was factory installed ... but they also have it as a dealer option. It has both the away alarm and a panic alarm when in the vehicle.

    As for your advise on personal safety ... I agree 100%. Avoid confrontation when possible. I was a police officer for 35 years before I retired ... in today's society you just don't want to confront a would be criminal. I know that many RVer's do carry firearms ... that has a whole new set of problems as you pointed out. As a foreigner (Canadian) travelling in the US ... chances of me getting across the border with a firearm would be pretty dicy at best.

    AVOIDANCE and always be aware of your surroundings.

    Another great BLOG ... thanks again.


  3. 2017.
    Carring one of these very powerful lights that are now advertised on TV can help in being more secure. Shine this light in the eyes of a crook will stop them in their tracks. It will give you time to react and get into your RV.

    I am looking at two possible solutions. The loudest horn I can buy that can fit behind or in front of the radiator, secure in the engine area, that can be turned on by a switch carried in my hand, and a very bright blinking light on top of my fan enclosure on the roof. Crooks do not like noise and lights.

    1. We carry a 1000 lumen pulsating LED flashlight with a focusing lens. My research on this is that if shined directly into someone's eyes, that person will not only become disoriented but they will also become nauseated and vomit. We keep this light next to the bed each night. We have never needed to use it - even before we got it - but we keep it close each night. This is fine for the remote possibility that someone would break into the Roadtrek during the night. We only stay in commercial campgrounds and that makes this even more remote. Physically breaking into van doors is not as easy as it is to break into the door of a thin walled travel trailer or motorhomes built onto a van chassis.

      I have always felt that if one hears someone outside who should not be that close - particularly in a campground, the best defense is to go to the front of the van to the steering wheel and lean on the horn and don't let off of it until every RV neighbor in every space around comes screaming to stop blowing that HORN! No burglar is going to stick around with all of that going on and a crowd coming from their RVs to shut up the crazy guy blowing his horn at 2 am. And I am pretty certain that they all will understand why you did it - and all will be thankful that the guy was scared away and that it was not their RV that had been chosen.

      Of course, if one is staying out in a secluded place - or in the middle of a forest with no one around, none of this will help. But that is not how we RV.