Break inAs endurance adventurers who clock up miles and hours of time on our feet, we can have a tendency to get a bit fed up of the same old local routes and get the urge to mix it up a bit by going further afield. As this often involves getting out into the countryside, using the car is often a necessity, along with a suitable spot to dump it for a few hours.

If you are anything like me you sometimes baulk at paying for the privilege of parking your car and leaving it while you go for a walk or run… some of these country car parks seem to be getting more and more expensive- yes I know they have to pay for the upkeep of the area but paying £5 or more for a few hours parking all adds up.

So if I can save a bit of change I will.

Last weekend was a Bank Holiday in the UK and my sister invited me over for a coffee. As she lives a few miles from the Battle of Bosworth visitor’s centre, I decided to do a spot of multi-tasking and dug out a leaflet I’d acquired for a 9 ½ mile circular walk starting and finishing from the centre.

Now when I walk I get so damned hot and sweaty that, not wishing to inflict this on my sister, I packed a change of clothing into a draw-string bag, put some deodorant, my watch and a comb into my handbag and slung them into the boot of the car. After all, they always tell you to lock any valuables out of sight don’t they? So I reckoned that they would be fine in the boot…

I set of for the visitor’s centre, but just before I got there I spied a lovely little secluded parking and picnic spot a couple of fields from the centre with a handy bridleway leading right to it… hey! If I park here instead of at the visitor’s centre and walk to the start of the route I can save a whole £2.50!! Get in!!

So- I parked up, did my walk, came back to the car 3 ½ hours later, opened the boot to chuck in my bum bag and… no clothes or handbag. Odd. Hmm, maybe I didn’t actually pick them up. Maybe they are still sitting on the chair in the lounge. Oh well…

I drove to my sister’s, had coffee and cake, apologised for being a total minger and it was only when I was driving home it occurred to me that I didn’t actually have my house keys as they were in my handbag. Yes- the same handbag I had supposedly plonked into the boot of the car…

I had this sudden mad thought that I may have left it sitting in my car parking spot at home, so drove back as fast as the traffic would allow, to find… nothing. I drove to my friend’s to retrieve the spare key she keeps to my house and it was only when I parked up back home that I noticed the lock on the driver’s door.

It was damaged.

The plastic around the lock barrel was broken and the metal was bent where an object had obviously been forced in and pushed upwards.

And I knew then what had happened to my stuff. B*st*rds.

The police told me that thieves are well aware that people lock stuff out of sight in the boot, so if they are able to get into your car boot, they will.

I was lucky. Yes, I lost my watch, my clothes (which were old anyway), my house keys (luckily I had no address in the bag) and my photo ID badge for work, but my wallet, cash, cards and phone had been safely with me.

Who knows- I may even get some of the other stuff back if they sling it and someone else picks it up and hands it in… but I’m not holding my breath. So I saved £2.50- and ended up losing around £100 worth of stuff…

Anyway it’s an experience I can learn from… and so can you. So here are some tips to keep your stuff safe;

  • Although it often costs to park in a proper visitor’s car park, they do tend to be more secure so don’t be tempted to be cheap like me- especially if the car park proceeds go towards the upkeep of the area.
  • Don’t tempt thieves unnecessarily by leaving things on show (although funnily enough they didn’t seem to want my battered old running shoes or smelly paint-stained fleece…)
  • If you do need to leave stuff in the boot, don’t leave anything of value, and preferably only leave stuff you aren’t too fussed about losing.
  • Thieves are opportunistic so make it as tough as possible for them. Park near the entrance if it is overlooked by a road, and make sure you don’t park right in the corners of a car park where they can work unseen.
  • If they take a bag with your keys in and you had something in there with your address on, change your locks
  • Put stuff into your boot before you leave home, not when you get there- you never know who’s watching.

Stay safe and stay vigilant!

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