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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
We all have our individual scenarios in mind as we construct our van environments. Today, I am midway through my annual winter solo excursion to the land of my youth--Louisiana and Mississippi. The sun is shining, but a cold nasty wind is blowing, so I have no desire to even step outside. After heating my lunch of ribs and collards in the MW, I sit here "living inside" my van in cozy comfort enjoying the 270° view of the lake and the play of natural light inside the van.

 

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Discussion Starter #5
I'm near Oxford in northern Mississippi. Had a delightful visit last night with Josh Cissel, his wife and his van. This morning, I'm watching 14 deer graze.

Come on down.
 

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It’s interesting that we seem to divide into the “view the World” group and “snuggle in a cave” group. Disclaimer- we are in the view group. I have noticed that in my ’15 and the newer vans the windows are tinted dark enough so seeing in is difficult unless you have a light on inside even in the day when it is overcast or sunny. The Ms. has finally accepted this and using the PP or changing with the windows uncovered has become OK.
The funniest thing is to be parked in a parking lot during the day and have some looky-loos come by to admire the van. You can see them walk around and at some point they decide to get up close to the window and cup their face in their hands to shade enough to see in. It can be anticipated and the correct response for us is to wait until they are within a few inches of the window and open the door to ask “Would you like to come in for a tour?” I just about die laughing inside each time it happens.
We have come to not covering the windows in the evening unless we have private stuff to do before we shut off the lights and undress. I have a curtain for the cab because you can see into it and for the back windows to help with the lights and to keep it a bit warmer.
The chance to see the world outside in many of the places we camp is priceless and to open the slider and cook and clean up or sit at the dinette with that door open when nice all winter in the SW is great. We have noticed the open door encourages the dreamers to stop and chat which we like too.
Can a caver describe the comfort I expect they get from looking at the interior and give us perspective on that?
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I installed a license plate light over the kitchen for when MrNomer is making coffee and I'm still in bed. We discovered it can also be used when doing private things at night with no window covering. I cover windows only to protect from lights outside because I want them open when I wake up. (I HATE these strings of Christmas lights people deck around their vans and sites.) A downside of not covering is that the uncovered windows become black holes at night. If I had sophisticated blinds like Proeddie, I would close them at night and open them when I went to bed.

Although I didn't choose it, I can understand the cave. For one, it's a lot easier to build, and not just the window installation. I'm still pondering how to trim mine. The uninterrupted walls are attractive and can be significantly better insulated. People cite security and stealth, but IMHO they may be fooling themselves there.

I came to a serious realization the other night as I sat in Josh Cissell's van. His is the closest design to mine I've seen, but with a few choices I didn't make--upper cabinets, a small sink cabinet at the slider, no rear side windows. I liked it. It was bright and cheerful. If I had made those choices, it would have been fine. Then I recalled RD's profound post a couple of days ago, essentially "ponder, make your decision, execute it, move on." These vans are so awesome that it would be difficult to make a fatal design mistake.
 

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I'm a cave man. Haha. No windows in the back of the van. I do wish there was some glass back there and am highly considering putting a window in the slider. That would be nice while camping and for pulling out into traffic. Right now pulling into traffic at an angle and I'm blind.
 

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2018 159 High Roof gas, BC, Canada
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Just ordered a 159" high roof with the back windows and the window in the sliding door. I *had* been planning on a caveman build because of security.

I'm not a dweller but instead am a traveler. I am a geeky photography guy and could have some valuable camera and computer equipment in the van unattended when I'm out exploring or maybe having a restaurant meal. Thus I was planning to have no windows at all. However, when I sat in a windowed van, I changed my mind. Being able to see out was a big plus.

I plan to have my bed sideways at the back and being able to look out the rear windows when waking up in the mornings seems to me a plus.

For security, I plan to put in some kind of window bars. I'm new to this forum and so I'm going to search to see what others have done about window security. e.g. bars, some kind of wire mesh maybe, etc.
 
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We have come to not covering the windows in the evening . . .
I'm not a dweller but instead am a traveler. I am a geeky photography guy and could have some valuable camera and computer equipment in the van unattended when I'm out exploring or maybe having a restaurant meal.
RD, you may remember that we (well VJ) fabricated curtains for our many windows. To our surprise, we've used them just once. Guess our desire for 'openness' outweighed our concerns for lost privacy. Of course, a glass van without curtains presents some heating challenges. But we're not hard-core 4 season campers. If we're expecting uncomfortable temperatures we try and find a 'shore power' site where we can run our electric space heater. Maybe a gas heater is in our future.

TVV, as a traveler and photographer we'd expect you to be a member of our 'open view' group. In any event, theft is an on-going concern for all of us. Do windows increase the risk? Especially if we locate those expensive items 'out-of-view'? We face this concern at our Michigan residence where, too, we have an abundance of glass and are frequently absent for extended periods. We finally elected not to cover/curtain all the exposed glass on the theory: "Please come and look inside and see how little there is here of value." This, we reasoned, eliminates the mystery arguably decreasing the likelihood of forced entry.
 

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TV,

I think that as long as the $$$ items are out of sight, and your van looks mostly like a campervan, you should be OK for most parking locations.

I would think the window bars, screens, industrial door locks send the message "worth breaking into".

I have windows all around and often see people looking inside to see what's in there... my camera, laptop, etc are in cabinets that could just as easily hold dishes, food, and clothes.

As Ms., quoting Rd said, "ponder..." I had a stool in mine that I sat in for many hours during the design and build stages!
 

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My experience is you can't predict what may attract thieves. But maintaining a low profile and avoiding parking in high-risk locations can reduce your chances of break-ins.

I owned a small red pickup truck with a camper shell in college that was repeatedly broken into in Northern and Southern California. Not much was stolen since I had very little of value at the time. A few windows were broken including, curiously, one of the vent windows that made that truck so easy to break into. The rear camper shell window was broken and a bicycle sans front wheel (stolen previously off the street) was stolen. Eventually I was flabbergasted when the whole truck was stolen. At the time it ran poorly because of carburetor trouble and a weak battery. I was parking it at the top of a hill and roll-starting it until I could afford a new battery.

I haven't had a vehicle break-in in many years since. I didn't install alarms or bars or change my behavior much at all. If anything the value of my vehicles and contents have increased. All I did was change my location, vehicle choice and my parking habits slightly.

The camper shell had windows all around, so for privacy I opted to put up sheets for curtains as my bed was parallel to the windows. Not sure if that's what attracted thieves to it, or the color, or the make and model or what. I'm back in the wall-of-windows camp on my van now and I'll probably just let it all hang out. I may take a run at something akin to Proeddie's blinds, however.

In browsing RV forums, I find some people install safes and motion lights, but most people feel the community of conventional campsites and RV parks to be deterrent enough. Thieves stick out in settings like that, and while that nosy or chatty neighbor may annoy you, they probably keep you safer.

One of the advantages of a self-build is you can build in features like non-obvious hidey-holes where you can stash your valuables. And if I had expensive cameras or computer equipment and was traveling in high-risk areas, I might consider them. I'd also avoid advertising brand name gear on my van with stickers or other company or club affiliations.

Lately, I find I don't value material possessions that much anyway-- home or van. Insurance can always help replace things, but memories of experiences with people, animals and places are more valuable and lasting to me. Money and things are the means for making more memories. As long as I have a few digital mementos like pictures, emails, texts backed up to the cloud somewhere, I'm good. I'd rather gaze out my windows and make memories, than hide in a cave and fear that somebody might take my stuff.
 

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I think I posted this before but 40 years ago we had an acquaintance with a big van converted for living. He often traveled to NY City where he came from. He got robbed often as his old neighborhood was one of those not to park in. In desperation he painted a big cabbage on it with the words “Wholesale Vegetables” and a fictitious NYC area phone number on the van’s sides. He never had a problem again. Thieves are motivated by the expectation of reward for their risk. You don’t want a ton of cabbage. Stealth or origional looking vans say “Tradesman” to me and we all know they will be filled with quality tools that can go to the Pawn shop for money, often lots of it. RV looks may be better in these days of no-cash traveling, no expensive camera, apple computer that will track you down, dirty clothes and underwear, a few sets of muddy shoes, perhaps a few pots and pans, but nothing that is going to get you hundreds of dollars from the Fence.
 

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"You don’t want a ton of cabbage."

Well, unless it's laughing cabbage!

I agree as far as the white van thing, it's the reason we wanted a color-and a fine color it is. I am reconsidering the 3M security film question. The commonness of the trailhead break-in has my attention; I have been quoted $300 by a 3M certified installer for the front door windows in a tinted version, and another $300 for the sliding and the rear doors fixed glass in clear, over the factory tinted glass. He tells me he sees zero issues with front window operation using the film, which is 4 mil thick. My 2018 also came with the window grate on the sliding door glass, we have not decided whether to leave it on or not.
 

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I agree as far as the white van thing, it's the reason we wanted a color-and a fine color it is. I am reconsidering the 3M security film question. The commonness of the trailhead break-in has my attention; I have been quoted $300 by a 3M certified installer for the front door windows in a tinted version, and another $300 for the sliding and the rear doors fixed glass in clear, over the factory tinted glass. He tells me he sees zero issues with front window operation using the film, which is 4 mil thick.
Dave, interesting that you looked into 3M security film. I had the 8 mil installed at home as a precaution due to spending so much time away from home (travelling) with more to come as soon we convert our new van.

Are the van's factory windows tempered meaning they shatter into tons of little pieces ? If so, I believe the security film needs to anchor to the frame.
With annealed glass which breaks into large pieces no anchoring needed.

I thought about using the 3M security film on the van later on as our planned travels will take us all over including bad neighborhoods I am sure.

I can see the front side windows having clearance issues when lowering due to the thicker 8 mil film applied on the inside. I don't see a risk of the front windshield being broken into as that would be way too obvious an assault on the van.
 

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Dave, interesting that you looked into 3M security film. I had the 8 mil installed at home as a precaution due to spending so much time away from home (travelling) with more to come as soon we convert our new van.

Are the van's factory windows tempered meaning they shatter into tons of little pieces ? If so, I believe the security film needs to anchor to the frame.
With annealed glass which breaks into large pieces no anchoring needed.

I thought about using the 3M security film on the van later on as our planned travels will take us all over including bad neighborhoods I am sure.

I can see the front side windows having clearance issues when lowering due to the thicker 8 mil film applied on the inside. I don't see a risk of the front windshield being broken into as that would be way too obvious an assault on the van.
Yes, most automotive side and rear glass in tempered, with windshields being laminated. One of the benefits is that the film holds/helps to hold the glass together, but yes, tempered glass with no film breaks into lots of small, not too sharp pieces. I think the 'bond to frame' method is used in commercial/residential security film but not automotive, IIRC, and I'm pretty sure it's 4 mil thick for cars/trucks. The idea of course is the deterrent value, hoping (sorry folks ;)) the bad guy or gal will move on to another, less challenging vehicle. Someone had posted a video here a few weeks ago which showed it taking about a minute to enter a vehicle, instead of about four seconds-lots of noise and commotion to beat through the film. Food for thought.

https://www.3m.com/3M/en_US/company.../?N=5002385+8710654+8710938+3292716660&rt=rud
 

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A word of caution about impact resistant glass. As hurricane protection my company has routinely installed thick highly impact resistant glass. Even so in our previous location our former CTO's office was broken into with a cinder block and her encrypted laptop was stolen and she lost years worth of data.

They just kept smashing until they broke the weakest link which was the aluminum window frame, and peeled the glass off and entered through the window. The alarm system went off, but by the time the police and on call personnel got there the thieves were long gone. While the thieves were eventually caught from another crime, the laptop was never recovered.

The building was fairly nondescript and in a semi-residential area and had an elaborate alarm system with no public access where you had to badge into every door. While this likely indicated to the thieves something of value inside, the root cause of the break-in was simple. The lights near the window were out and the timer for parking lot lights was misprogrammed or faulty. These were the domain of the landlord and our insurance company sued him.

Our takeaway was to focus on the simple stuff. Make sure lights work and backup critical employee's laptops. Our current location is on the second floor.

Determined thieves will get in. The 3M film may slow them down, but if they can't break your windows, they'll peel down your high roof doors. If possible I'd walk, take a shuttle or hitch a ride to a deserted trail head. If my insurance company lowered my deductible or my premium if I installed 3M film, I'd consider it. Otherwise, I think my money would be better spent on improved comprehensive insurance or a couple cabbage signs ;)
 

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Caution, opinion coming. This sort of trailhead break in has proliferated due to the cheap drugs and low or vastly underpaid employment in rural areas where we go. Once it happened in urban areas almost exclusively but now it seems to be everywhere. If the van is parked in a lonely spot there is no film, or bars, or locks that can prevent it being smashed into.

In comparison we leave our 4Runner far out in the desert near the border while we hike. We have yet to hear of anyone in our large group of fellow desert travelers who has had their vehicle bothered except one friend with a really crappy looking truck that the border patrol had towed as they thought it was abandoned! LOL. There may be cartel mules going buy but the town’s meth heads are not out there. We do put out a gallon of water as deterrence from someone smashing a window to keep from dying of thirst. It is illegal of course but I doubt a jury of my peers is going to find me guilty.

My point is not to be political or comment on the border issue but to point out situational intelligence is the best you can do. Be smart and your chances of avoiding issues goes way down, whether it is a magnetic cabbage sign in NYC, water in the desert, or unloading the kayak and the partner and driving a half mile to avoid being an obvious target at a river put in.
 

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We all have our individual scenarios in mind as we construct our van environments. Today, I am midway through my annual winter solo excursion to the land of my youth--Louisiana and Mississippi. The sun is shining, but a cold nasty wind is blowing, so I have no desire to even step outside. After heating my lunch of ribs and collards in the MW, I sit here "living inside" my van in cozy comfort enjoying the 270° view of the lake and the play of natural light inside the van.

Fallen off the bone.....had some other night with Lesa & David....a bit farther North.....David was the brains on adding air......he mainly restores cars that were taken apart by someone else.....

Sent from my LG-H871 using Tapatalk
 
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