Where Not To Store Your Equipment
Your HEMA equipment is important. It is expensive and from a niche sport/hobby/martial art and some of it may not even be replaceable. For those of you who have armor, storing that in your car is like putting thousands of dollars in plain view inside it.
Yet, over the years, from before I was involved in HEMA, to today, people store their equipment where they should not- namely their vehicle.
At this point you already know where this story is going.
When you store your equipment in your car it has a chance of being stolen. Thieves do look at cars, especially around the holidays, for anything of interest that they can sell at their local pawn shop. I assume they take the proceeds from their illicit activities to pay for rent, food, and their college education and not meth, opium or booze.
I have known dozens of people over the past two decades who have lost all of their equipment because it was pilfered from the back of their vehicle.
No matter what you think, your stuff is better off in your home or club than it is in the back of your car.
How Thieves Work
I live in an interesting neighborhood. One mile north there are mansions, one block south there is the occasional armed robbery. Crime is an issue and it helps to know how thieves work to better understand why your car is a bad place to store swords and gear. Now, if you are saying "I know this!", then mission accomplished. You can stop reading (but please read anyways!). For the rest of you, please read on.
Thieves look for easy targets. In Arizona, for example, they rarely carry burglary tools. This picks up extra charges if they are caught. Instead, they just walk down the street and check to see if any doors are unlocked. I watched a pair do this and I was decent enough to call the police, who did eventually show up, but by then, the pair were long gone.
If your car or truck is locked, that's a good start, but if your HEMA equipment is in there and can be seen by someone taking a peek, then you have a problem. HEMA equipment is the sort of unusual material that draws the eye. Armor, swords, helmets and so forth are all things thieves can unload online or at a pawn shop, or just hang onto because it looks interesting.
While your vehicle may be locked, if something inside it looks interesting, then thieves can smash out your windows relatively quickly and get into the vehicle. They may do this at any time of day or night and the sound of a smashing window can go by unnoticed. Even an alarm may do you no good because once the sound is made, it's not like they planned on lingering to begin with. Smash, grab and go. One of my former high-school students (I'm a teacher) was involved in unsavory activity before being arrested and explained how he and his friends robbed cars. Sometimes they stole things because it was fun to do, and believe me, a piece of armor or a sword is the sort of fun that attracts thieves.
If you drive a truck and have a locked storage box in the bed of the truck, that too is also good as a deterrent, but, it is also a target. Tools are something thieves like to steal and those boxes are not impossible to get into. If they get in that locked box and find a sword instead- they're still going to steal it.
I recently had to pick a lock for the first time and while it took some effort, as a novice I was able to get into my cash-box. (Yes, I found the key later. Wife saw it bouncing about the laundry).
So what does it matter that my time playing Bethesda games gave me at least a locking-picking skill of 1?
It means if I can do it, a thief with more experience could do it quicker and faster with something as simple as a pen-knife and a paper-clip bent so as to be a pick.
So, to reiterate, your vehicle is not a good place for your unique stuff. Its expensive and it will draw the eye.
Have you done it before and nothing has happened? That's good, but, raise your hand if you know of someone who had their armor, swords, or gear stolen out of their vehicle. I'm going to take a guess that at this point all your hands are up.
So, try to keep your gear in your home or at your club. Yes, it can still be stolen, but with more effort than it takes from getting it out of your car.
If you read this article and have been a victim of having your stuff stolen out of your vehicle, I'm really sad for it. I detest thieves. That said, be sure to comment so you can tell others of your experiences. Consider it a community service.
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