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A "grand day" ruined

After a super walk over the Brecon Beacons yesterday, I returned to the car park to the south of GW/SW-004 to find it cordoned-off by police. A couple of hours after I left it, the side window of my car was smashed and someone removed much of the contents. All this happened in broad daylight in a popular car park. The car was locked (of course), the alarm was on and there was nothing on display to tempt the thieves.

Although the police were not allowed to tell me what happened, it was more serious than just mindless robbery. I learnt from a member of the public that another walker was in hospital, having been beaten up by the thieves. I’m told “he’ll be okay”. That sounds serious.

The police have three people in custody and they’re treating the incident very seriously.

So, a couple of cautionary points:

  1. It doesn’t matter how well you cover things up in your car, the thieves will assume there are articles of interest inside. I lost my SatNav and a few things of little value - but of most value to me, they took two pairs of walking boots. One was pretty well knackered (pardon the expression) but the other still useable and very comfortable. I was still contemplating using them on ODP in a few weeks time.
  2. If thieves are bold enough to do this in broad daylight in a public place, you want to keep well clear and make sure you’re in a position to report the incident accurately to the police rather than become hospital fodder.

Take care – not just on the hills.

73, Richard

In reply to G4ERP:
Very sorry to hear of this Richard, must have been quite some shock to come back to that. Thank goodness you were not around to be physically harmed.

Roger MW0IDX

In reply to G4ERP:

A tip I was given recently: leave your glove compartment open and visibly empty of anything worth stealing.


Brian G8ADD

In reply to G8ADD & MW0IDX:

Good afternoon, both.

Thanks for the comments.

I started this thread partly to warn of the dangers and partly to see what ideas people had to minimise the risk involved in leaving a car unattended for long periods. (If I’m honest, I’m also feeling a bit shocked now that the “how do I sort this out” bit is over.)

Just now I’m finding it very difficult to justify another outing using the car - even if logic says the risk is small - so all ideas gratefully received. Do our SOTA colleagues on the continent have these problems and do particular areas in the UK carry a higher risk?

Brian’s idea has started the ball rolling and it’s certainly one I’ll try.

When I was walking the SDW I noticed several parked cars which had notices in their windows with something along the lines of “no valuables left in this car”. The notices carried some official sanction. They were all in the same car park so I guess it was a local initiative.

Any other ideas, anyone? Regular activators must be at a higher risk that average.

73, Richard

In reply to G4ERP:

Sad to say, this is something that is liable to happen anytime, anywhere, even if your car is parked on your drive. You will frequently see patches of glass fragments in the road, relic of yet another break-in. Most of them go for a quick in and out and off up the street, hoping for a satnav that can be changed rapidly into drug money. These are the people that will leave you alone if they can see that there is nothing there for them.

In recent years there has been a lot of thefts of equipment, rucsacs left at the foot of climbs, even the abseil ropes left on sea cliffs as insurance so that if you fail on a climb you can prussik up to safety…sooner or later this will lead to a tragedy if it hasn’t happened already. I even know somebody who had his rucsac stolen on a summit whilst he was photographing the scenery…and it isn’t always humans, I have seen sheepdogs and red squirrels rifling rucsacs looking for something to eat! When all is said and done, though, it is not an everyday occurrance or we would hear about it more often on this reflector!


Brian G8ADD

In reply to G4ERP:

Hi Richard, so sorry to hear about your bad day!!

as others have said the only consolation is you weren’t the other type of statistic and at least your car can be fixed.

I must admit, there is always the thought in the back of my mind, when getting to park spots on quite a few of the summits. “this doesn’t look like the kind of place I want to leave my car”.

best 73

and 88 from Elaine


In reply to 2E0LAE:

And I thought this only happened in Africa !
Theft with associated violence is par for the coarse down here.

Cape Town
South Africa
Home of the FIFA 2010 world cup.

The only consideration is to ensure you have sufficient insurance to cover your losses. You can try and minimise the risk by ensuring that nothing valuable is showing but that is not guaranteed to always be effective.

Or perhaps avoiding South Wales is an option? :wink:


Sorry to hear about the sad tale Richard. A stiff drink needed to compensate. Such incidents are always upsetting.

This kind of occurence can happen virtually anywhere of course, though the more popular the spot, the higher the risk seems to be. The thieving scum always look to maximise their pickings and driving down a long valley, something like Sleddale in the Lakes (parking for Tarn Crag) is unlikely to reap much by way of results and although remote it is probably far safer than the car park for somewhere like Pen y Fan. Thieves are so brazen nowdadays as to disregard the presence of the public, as has been shown on this occasion.

I must admit that wherever I park, I am always pleased to see the motor where I left it!


Good evening, everyone and thanks for the comments.

Logic, of course, says that statistically it’s unlikely to happen again – especially following the guidelines suggested. I think Gerald is right - you’re unlikely to have this sort of problem at a remote summit. Conversely, the herring principle says there’s safety in numbers. I’ll never know why they picked mine.

Sorry to hear, Allen, that it’s par for the course down there. I’ve only been to your amazing country once and that was now a long time ago. Certainly, out in the countryside near Johannesburg all seemed peaceful. Mind you, we were chaperoned. As an aside, can you imagine an F1 car trundling down the motorway at 40mph on the back of a dumper truck? Well, that’s what we did to go testing! Amazing days.

I shall be adopting the “travel light” and “open all hatches” approach from now on. Gerald, you were quite right a while back when you made a comment about me taking spare boots. In this case I had two spare pairs. Doh! I can see the lightweight approach working okay for single day outings but you and Paul are now following in my wheeltracks and going off for days at a time. Would you head to GM without spare antennas, batteries, rigs etc? I think not.

My own tack has changed lately as you probably realise and SOTA backpacking has become my main interest. A couple of reasons. Firstly, I drive enough during the week not to enjoy doing the same at weekends. The cost of all those trips to Wales was stupid and the environmental impact even more so. It’s not just SOTA, mind. Read Trail magazine or look at their forum and you’ll see how many people are doing the same each weekend.

Secondly, I have always enjoyed circular walks encompassing two or more summits and this is the logical extension. There’s something really liberating about heading off on a multi-day walk.

Unfortunately, Dr Beeching (who gets the blame for closing so many useful branch lines in the UK) couldn’t know that 40 years later the balance would swing back in their favour. This does make it more of a challenge to use public transport but the more I can do like this, the less I have to leave my car unattended. At the end of the day, it’s all about probabilities but like Gerald and Tony, I’ll continue to worry if it will be there when I return.

73, Richard

In reply to G4ERP:

Sorry to hear you news, I hope that they didn’t get your '706. From what I hear SW is a hotbed of crime these days, not that it’s particularly safe around here either. Until I moved to Gloucestershire I had never had a car broken into even when I used to park in an rather undesirable part of S.Essex close to the docks although on one occasion I did return to find a bike ‘parked’ on the car roof!
One afternoon some years ago I made the mistake of leaving the front panel of the BC radio in place when the car parked outside Gloucester Royal, the car broken into & the radio stolen.
On another occasion I left the panel of my 706 in place on the dash whilst we went for a meal at local pub one evening. The thieves overcame the deadlocking system which then enabled them to open the boot on the push button. They stole the 706 panel but fortunately they didn’t get the 706 main unit which was bolted in the boot although they did get the spare wheel which had never been used.
I doubt that there’s anywhere where it’s really safe to leave a car unattended for long periods of time these days.




In reply to G3LVP:

Sorry to hear of your past woes. I think I must have been very lucky up to now. Welcome to reality, eh?

No, my IC706 wasn’t touched. Shame really, it’s developed an intermittent fault and I’ve been looking for an excuse to upgrade it to one with 70cm for GB3UK :). If you hear an obviously mobile carrier on S20 with no audio. Let me know, please. I’ll wiggle the extension cable and eventually it will return.

(Edit) Oh, it’s not the extension cable BTW. It does it on two different cables.

73, Richard

In reply to G4ERP:

Hi Richard,

Very sorry to hear of your misfortune. I also worry about leaving my car at parking spots, although so far I have been lucky and have experienced no “incidents”.

I have to agree with the comments about South Wales. I lived there for some years before moving to Gloucestershire and had the following unpleasant experiences:

Swansea: car broken into in daytime at the Railway Station car park.
Cardiff: tyres slashed in daytime when parked in the street near work.
Cardiff: radio stolen, together with £300 damage to door and lock.
Cardiff: £8000 motor cycle stolen from my garage and never seen again.
Barry Island: another £8000 motor cycle stolen from sea front car park; subsequently recovered damaged.
Newport: two wheel trims stolen while car was parked in the street.

What can you do?

The good news is that since moving to Gloucestershire some 19 years ago, I have not been a victim of any crime (touch wood!)

I hope your experience yesterday will not put you off doing SOTA activations. I always look forward to working you when you’re out and about.

Walt (G3NYY)

In reply to G4ERP:
Sorry Richard, to hear this. It is a constant worry. Us activators leave our cars in remote and popular places and risk much for the hobby. Ironically, the out-of-the-way places are probably much safer; the moronic element seldom go there. I too try to hide things under the seat etc but the thing that has always worried me is that the car may simply not be there when you return. That could be highly inconvenient at best or downright dangerous in the case of remote winter activations out of phone range.

My partial solution is to drive a beat-up wreck but it doesn’t mean that bad things still won’t happen; my window was smashed in broad daylight within line of sight of a police station in Liverpool a long time ago (1972 in fact). A brick rested on my seat. They got my cassette player; pride and joy and a 21st birthday present from my parents and all other items. It’s a horrible feeling which takes some getting over.

I hope insurance will cover your loss but it might be tricky with contents. Getting reparation from the wrongdoers is far from easy and likely to be a fiver a week if it happens at all. I curse thieves every day of my life when I can’t get things out of my pocket due to a huge bunch of keys.

Society is too liberal. I feel really sorry for the person in hospital and you too but lightning doesn’t often strike twice. Don’t be disheartened. Get angry then go out of your way to carry on just as you have been. If you don’t, they’ve won and your life will be damaged.

It’s easier said than done but try to put it behind you and think of your next SOTA,

John, G4YSS.

In reply to G4YSS & G3NYY:

Walt - I’m appalled by that list of crimes. No wonder you moved to a more gentile county! John - mine’s not a beat-up wreck (even after Saturday) but there were newer more expensive cars alongside my Freelander. Judging by the slick nature of the offence I guess they have done this before. It’s the ideal SOTA vehicle for ease of parking on any spare bit of ground and for it’s go-anywhere characteristics. I have yet to get it stuck. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have a boot - just a cover - so maybe that was it’s attractiveness. It will be left open in future.

The police have charged one of the three and he’s staying in custody. Not sure about the others and of course no sign of my kit.

Thanks for the encouragement. No, it won’t stop me and I’m hoping to be out again next weekend - WX permitting. I need to get some more miles in before next month and ODP.

On a more cheerful note, I REALLY enjoyed the walk and I can thoroughly recommend it. I’ll put some notes under one or other summit.

73, Richard

In reply to G4ERP:

I can see the lightweight approach working okay for single day outings but you and Paul are now following in my wheeltracks and going off for days at a time. Would you head to GM without spare antennas, batteries, rigs etc? I think not.

This is certainly an issue. All spare kit is stashed in the boot while we are away from the vehicle. I have to trust the standard of lock on the vehicle and the immobiliser system installed. The fact it is a modest flying machine could make it a target, but it is what it is and like yourself it has been selected with SOTA activations in mind. In this case it is a compromise between the professional standard expected in my work life and the need to be able to park on soggy ground… or withdraw from a ditch, as experienced last November.

There is no easy answer. As John says, it is important to move on. The phrase “nil illegitium carborundum par” springs to mind (with apologies to anyone offended by my poor Latin).

73, Gerald

In reply to G4ERP:
Hi, Richard. As I am a little proud of my Welsh ancestry, despite the crime figures, your substitution of gentile for genteel made my morning! Lovely! :-))


Brian G8ADD

In reply to G8ADD:

Hi, Richard. As I am a little proud of my Welsh ancestry, despite the
crime figures, your substitution of gentile for genteel made my
morning! Lovely! :-))

Well, I prefer to think that the inhabitants of Cardiff and Newport are not Welsh! They are certainly not typical of Welsh people in general.


Just back from an excellent day out in the hills - the first outing using the car since this unfortunate incident. Ysgyryd Fawr was just as spectacular on my second visit. Peter M0COP’s company was most welcome and Dave G0ELJ reminded me that I was his first SOTA contact on my maiden activation of this shapely hill back in 2007. Having gazed at it from close quarters last week on the ODP, it was great to look down on the landslip from above. Quite awesome.

Thanks to all for the QSOs on both 2m and 70cm.

Once you get to know a hill, you can recognise it’s profile from afar. Today’s amazing visibilty meant that it was very obvious later this afternoon from the Cotswold escarpment some 50 miles away. (No summit this time - just out riding.)

73, Richard

In reply to G4ERP:

Richard Sorry to hear about this incident. I think the only solution is to attempt to minimise the risk whenever possible. It always amazes me when I park up in an LD car park prior to summiting and find that although vehicle owners have hidden their SatNavs etc, they leave the tell-tale signs behind. Once you secure your SatNavs, MP3 adapters, power plugs etc remove ancillary items such as suction cups mounts from the windscreen and leads from the cigarette lighter. Thieves know what they are looking for, so hide as much as possible. Leave glove boxes open and empty as someone has already suggested and perhaps a sign stating ‘NO VALUABLES LEFT IN VEHICLE’. If your vehicle cargo area is open to view, get a retractable fitted cover to keep any walking equipment or other belongings hidden. Where possible park in the open rather than in a concealed place, such as dense undergrowth/trees, foliage or indeed not inbetween vehicles larger than yours, not always easy in such locations I know. Hope this is a once only incident for you.
Just my advice.

Ian 2E0EDX
Ex Crime Prevention Officer