Friday, September 6, 2013

Shipping Vehicles Overseas: What Will Get Stolen?

If you decide to place personal belongings in a vehicle that is being shipped overseas, will anything get stolen? The answer is a definitive yes, but it's very difficult to anticipate what will get stolen and what will be safe. In our experience, a number of odd, random items walked and not necessarily the priciest.

Because of the certainty of theft, one is repeatedly instructed to ship vehicles empty because there is no redress when things get stolen. We knew this fact but decided that, as long as everything doesn't get lifted, we would be better off shipping an outfitted rig with second-hand gear, rather than shipping an empty rig and planning on buying supplies after reaching the UK (a costly alternative). In the end, the gamble paid off and we were left with most things remaining. Our luck was most certainly aided by the fact that Vincent locked all of the exterior compartments after the dock hands finished measuring the RV, so no one had access to those.

It seems that the items that were taken were more for personal use rather than resale value. Our hypothesis is that crew working on container ships probably get paid really poorly. That, combined with the likelihood that they have very little time to shop, means that being stuck at sea for weeks at a time makes the accompanying vehicles a very attractive super-mall. Sifting through vehicles is one of the rare perks of the job. I gather it's generally not accepted and against "the rules" to steal items so the things that tend to get taken are those that can be slipped into one's shirt, vest or trousers, otherwise bigger items would be gone. And if your vehicle is switched from one container ship to another during passage, then it is open to another group of needy, low-paid workers, the dock hands, and the very real certainty that more belongings will be taken. I did read about one car, that was moved from one container to another, being stripped of pretty much everything including the antifreeze and first aid kit. I take some comfort in knowing that only about 18 people are needed to operate these huge freighters, so the thievery could be so much worse if we had to cater to a bigger demand.

So what was taken from LandShark and the Prius? Here's our list:
  • Sunglasses: About 4 pairs from the RV and one pair from the Prius. The pair in the Prius had prescription lenses, one of which was badly damaged, so they didn't bother to check them out before they pocketed them
  • One table alarm clock
  • Vince's one silk tie: They opened the box, took the red tie and tissue paper and left the box
  • Vince's Tommy Bahama polo shirt
  • Two fleece jackets: One Barbour-branded, one Big Sur-branded
  • One pair of women's aqua shorts (huh?)
  • One LandsEnd tankini top, but they left the bottom piece right next to it (what the heck?)
  • One women's 3/4-length sleeved t-shirt with frilly bits around the neck-line (hmm)
  • One women's white tank top
  • One pair women's 505 Levi jeans
  • One women's white fleece vest
  • Two pair ladies' jersey fabric trousers and one pair jersey fabric shorts
  • One yellow sweatshirt
  • A Yahoo-branded mug, a mug with a strawberry motif and one Corelle Livingware mug
  • 5-gallon Igloo water cooler
  • Deck of cards
  • Two IKEA night lights, that run on 110v
  • Hair dryer
  • Two sets of walkie talkies
  • Two 12v usb chargers
So what didn't they take that I thought surprising?
  • Five women's cashmere sweaters (They clearly liked women's clothing so why not take the good stuff?)
  • One women's fisherman-type sweater
  • Vince's navy blazer (The tie was worth about $30 but the blazer $300+.)
  • The second Big Sur-branded fleece jacket
  • Two DVD players
  • Our collection of DVDs
  • Any other kitchen equipment (pots, pans, coffee thermos, utensils, etc)
  • Emergency triangles in the Prius
  • Sarah's snow globe from The Tetons (Sarah added this to the list; she is so relieved it is still here!)
  • None of the comforters or pillows
  • Most, if not all, of our toiletries (including ibuprofen) and soaps
So, somewhere out on the high seas, there are a few members of the K-Line crew a little better off and a little more comfortable. I'm not sure how to interpret the strong interest in women's clothing. Perhaps there are women crew members or, more fun to imagine, there's a guy in his tiny on-board cabin relaxing and being his true self in my navy tankini top and jersey shorts. He has fresh water in his cabin, thanks to our Igloo cooler, and now has an attractive table top clock, equipped with alarm. He has the benefit of decent reading lights and when bored of reading the same old books, he can while the hours away playing solitaire with my deck of cards or radioing one of his buddies with our walkie talkies. And at Christmastime, he'll visit his mother wearing Vince's red, silk tie.


  1. Martha,
    This one is a no brainer:One LandsEnd tankini top, but they left the bottom piece right next to it (what the heck?)

    Women in Europe go topless. They were just doing you a favor so you wouldn't look foolish.


    ps enjoying the posts!

  2. What company did you use to arrange shipment of the motorhome? After 20 years of motorboat cruising in the PNW and SE Alaska, we're excited about touring Europe in our 24' Sprinter motorhome. What brand of step-down transformer/converter can you recommend?