« on: July 29, 2011, 11:38:18 am »
I really don't worry much about the bike or gear unless I am in a more populated place or camping in a place that the public can easily access. For example, last month, during a nine-day trip in MT, our camp in Darby (a small town) was visible from the sidewalk. When we walked into town during the evening, we put our panniers and trailer bag out of sight underneath the tent fly and locked our bikes together behind a cabin so they were out of sight. Things like pots and the stove we hid behind the tent so they were not readily visible to a passer by. Did the same the next morning when we went into town for breakfast. In that case, however, we saw a jittery, red-faced guy walking really fast on a path that would take him right past the campground. I instantly thought "meth-head." We stopped and followed him at a distance until we were pretty sure he had other plans. A while later, we saw him outside the cafe smoking. He then came inside for coffee and was talking to the locals. We figured he must have been on a mission to get a pack of cigarettes from the store that was a block beyond our campground.
Someone did once try to steal my stove in Dubois, WY. I left it visible outside my tent when I went to use the campground’s laundry facility. There was a road along side the tent camping area and only a low, meager fence separated the two. Two teens drove by, stopped and started eyeing up the stove. After about 30 sec., I jumped out of the car. I was lucky that I was outside the laundry room reading and saw what was going on. I jumped up and started walking very quickly towards my tent. The kid jumped back in the car and the two sped off. By creating an easy opportunity for petty theft, I was asking for trouble.
Several times during our recent trip we left our campsite unattended without locking up our bikes or taking any steps to hide our gear. And in a few places, both of us went inside stores, restaurants, etc. without locking up the bikes. The chance of theft simply seemed to remote to worry about. In the relatively high crime city of Butte, however, we kept an eye on our bikes when we went inside a café to use the computer.
Of course, I always take valuables like my money, card and ID with me. That takes no effort. And I try to position the bike in a place visible to me when I go inside to eat, shop, etc. In the end, what precautions you take in each situation will be driven by an assessment of your surroundings and your personal tolerance for risk.