Capt. Mike

Recent posts have turned up some old vandalism topics. Something to consider from an insurance point of view is Comprehensive Deductible. Comprehensive is non-collision damage. It includes fire, theft, broken windshields and vandalism.

Have a coverage review with your insurance agent. Although it is common for coverage to include a comprehensive deductible, you may find the difference in premium is negligble. The $100 or $250 deductible that is common may only save you a few dollars a year for Comprehensive coverage, unlike the savings for a big deductbile with Collision coverage. Thus many of the common small claims like antenna or glass breakage would be 100% covered for a very low cost. Coverage would then include labor at a dealership.

(Not to be pessimistic, but I have no respect for insurance companies since most of my experiences have been negative. Ask your agent for actual dollar quotes; an agent could consider the tiny increase in his cut of the premium not worth the added risk of claims against "his policies" so might shrug off a 0 deductible. The insurance companies do rate their agents that way, you know.)

Antenna vandalism can be irritating as much by the difficulty in replacing them as the actual cost (usually insured). On Vanagons, the antenna is retractable. Since most antenna vandalism are unplanned acts of opportunity, just keeping the antenna down while parked may be a big preventative measure.

When replacing a Type II antenna, consider a retractable or one that has a removeable mast. Ditto for CB and cell-phone antennas. It at least gives you an option when parked in a questionable security area.

Sugar in the gas tank is one of those situations where it would be easy to say you sort of asked for it by not having a lockable gas cap. Damage can be severe, whereas the prevention is usually less than the cost of a tank-full. Since vehicles after 1968 have captive vent systems, stick with factory or manufacturer approved caps. Aftermarket may not vent properly. The Type II and Vanagon OE caps are excellent.

Glass breakage: Whether by road accident or vandalsim, glass breakage eventually catches us all. When replacing glass, many insurance companies try to intimidate you into using some "chosen" glass company of often dubious quality and ethics. You can bet your backside they were picked ONLY because they are cheap. Pick your own glass replacement company with care, getting OEM or quality replacements. Demanding you use their "approved" list has been overruled again & again by the courts. VW manuals specify cutting the windshield gasket to remove the old windshield. Insist on it to insure a new weatherstrip -- it does no good to put a new glass into an old, stretched & hardened weatherstrip. This is often the cause of that dreaded windshield channel rust.

Much paint damage (bird & sap droppings), vandalism (soap, shaving cream) and spills (fuel, drinks) can be minimized by a really good wax job. If washed off immediately, the damage is very often prevented or minimized. Wax is only a 1000th or 2 of an inch thick. Instead of just relying on wax, first (after a thorough cleaning and polishing) apply a sealer/reglaze (Maguires #7 for example). This fills paint irregularities and blemishes, giving it that "smooth as glass" feel. Then wax, and preferable a couple-three coats.

It's better to be wearing on the 2nd & 3rd coats of wax than to have to repolish, seal and rebuild each time. Don't wait for it to quit beading between waxings. Few waxings are good for more than a month or three depending on conditions.

While wax alone may allow beading on an unsealed surface, the surface will still be rough and more likely to hold contaminates. That sealer/reglaze has purpose besides improving gloss & depth. But don't let anyone talk you out of the final protective wax afterwards -- sealer/reglaze does NOT have protective ability, although it may look great & bead for a short while.
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New member
Rash of Break-ins into my Westy

Hello all,
I was wondering if anyone has a solution or a tip for preventing the ease of which some cretians have of breaking into a 1985 Westy. I guess more correctly does anyone have a way to better secure the van. I have disabled the Side door from being unlocked from outside. But both the Driver and Passenger door seem to be the mode of entry that these jerks use to get in. I am not sure if they have some sort of slim-jim that can quickly unlock the door but lets say it is getting kind of frustrating coming back to the mess. In the last 3 months the van has been broken into 4 times in the Downtown Victoria area (Parking lot on 800 block of Yates and the Parliament Building lot). Just let me catch one of these fine citizens... ;-)

Thanks for any advice you can provide.

Capt. Mike

Fortunately, Vanagons don't unlock just by using the inner door handle. Their unlock is solely via the locking rod (Bentley §57.2). If there is no physical evidence or damage, they are probably using a version of the Slim Jim. Try cutting a block of foam rubber or styrofoam that fits around and above the lever. See Fig. 4 on §57.3, inserting the block between 1 & 3 in the upper corner. Such a block may prevent the typically Slim Jim tool from getting past to reach under the trip lever but the rod will slide up & down in hole you've left for it. You'll have to remove the inner panel and vapor seal to do this.

You didn't say if you have electric locks, but if so, they may be using a scanner type remote that scans and activates the whole door-lock frequency spectrum. The only solution is to deactivate the electric locks.

If they are breaking into yours, I'd assume they are breaking into others. I would hope that full police reports every time would alert them of a need for a sting operation. 4 times in 3 months indicates an organized routine or lot owner complicity. Offer to allow them to install a surveillance camera in your car. Since you say it's just a mess without attempts to steal the vehicle or major equipment, it's probably a youth group. Here in the US, many TV stations and newspapers have a "consumer trouble-shooter" reporter that, if you can convince him/her there is an organized break-in routine (use the term "teen gang" liberally), can often jog police into action. A news report on "teens running amok" will get lots of action. With the plethorea of tiny video cameras available for computers at very low cost, you might want to install one for evidence the police can't ignore. At the very least, tell the lot owner he needs surveillance cameras.

If the lot is a pay lot, the owner has some responsibility, regardless of all the disclaimers. Here in the States, most of those "not responsible for damage" signs at commercial shops and "not responsible for broken windshields" on the back of trucks will get laughed at by the judge. I know -- I've had a judge laugh at and tell a shop his sign was worthless the minute he accepted my money or service order. At the very least, tell the lot owner he needs surveillance cameras and that you are reporting the activity to police and the press. If it's a provinical or feder government lot, your legislative rep can apply lots of pressure. Since the crimes are apparently within city limits, show up at a city meeting and use your right to address the council. Reporters will be watching or reading your testimony and the council doesn't like to know there's a crime wave going on under their noses.


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Capt. Mike

Gas theft

With the price of gas skyrocketing, gas theft is on the rise. If $4/gal gas (I saw CN$1.46/liter on a BC survey) isn't enough to prod you into a locking gas cap, it's sort of like hanging a free gas sign on your Westy. A syphon hose is old tech but still the most dominant because most gas is stolen by amateurs.

But it has also evoked a group of professionals. They usually don't care about damage. One of the newer methods, most successful on plastic tank cars, it to drive a sharpened hollow rod up into the tank. They can then use a catch pan or hook it to a pump to empty a tank in a couple of minutes. Metal tanks such as ours and tanks not readily accessible make the Westies a little less inviting but still worth thinking about, especially on front tank Vanagons. I'll have to please ignorance as to what a Eurovan tank is made of. The pros are more likely to go for the 30-40 gallon tanks of a high-end SUV or truck. Reminds me, I think I better install a shield on Redneck pickemup's tank! That's 35 gallons of diesel and is made of plastic.
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