So yeah, our truck got broken into… again.  Read about the first time here: A Christmas Miracle in Puerto Vallarta

This time it was our drivers lock that got punched in and the cab that got ransacked.  It was in a nice neighbourhood in Leon where this apparently never happens.  This night a handful of cars got broken into while we were all in the backyard enjoying a family BBQ.  Good thing the BBQ was more than worth it!

We continually get reminded to not leave anything in the truck and secure our shit.  Our stereo faceplate got stolen (the only time Richard forgot to remove it…) rendering our stereo useless, our Mexico Lonely Planet, and our Church’s guide got stolen.  Luckily everything of real importance was locked in our aluminum lock box.

Time to beef up the security Heather and Scotts Adventure style!

Pretty soon the truck is going to be a steel tank Mad Max style…  maybe that’s what it’s supposed to end up like?

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Step One:  Buy a The Club.  We figured that one of these days someone would eventually try and steal the truck.  We would feel too bad if Red got into the hands of somebody who didn’t respect him so we picked up one at Autozone on our way home from Leon.  Boom.  Secure.

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Step Two:  Fix the locks, fix the door handles, fix the tailgate handle

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While at Autozone I (Richard) realized it wasn’t going to be cheap to fix the handles and locks.  They wanted $150 just for the parts.  Instead of sucking up the cost, I procrastinated.

Eventually my procrastination paid off when we met Juan Carlos through Katie at the Muskoka Foundation.  He has been a working mechanic for 20 years in Guanajuato and promised he could fix the drivers door handle, tailgate handle, and rekey the lock for the passenger door lock for less than what I can buy them for.  Normally I would have just done all of the work myself, but how can I say no to a guy who can do the work for me for less than what I can do it for?  Instead of giving me a firm quote like promised though, he showed up randomly one day (a week after we first discussed it) with the parts in hand and was ready to take the keys and drive the truck to his shop.  I wasn’t enthusiastic about giving the keys to our baby to a random mechanic in a small Mexican town, so I jumped into the truck and went to his shop together.  Did I mention Juan Carlos doesn’t speak any english?  Habla inglez? No.

First stop:  OXXO.  I picked up some water and a couple of Snickers bars.  How do you make a friend from another country?  Offer him a Snickers bar.  Done.

We rolled into Juan Carlos’ shop at 2:30pm and proceeded work together as we each replaced a door handle.  After some awkward silences I pointed at the project Ford Maverick that was sitting in the corner and said it was looking good.  He offered to pop the hood and showed me the clean engine bay and the rebuilt “tres, cero, dos” that filled it.  He grabbed the keys and fired it up.  He revved up the engine so we could listen to the exhaust.  We both smiled, I showed him some pictures of my Mustang, and then we got to work.  Apparently car guys are car guys no matter what language you speak.

The next step was to go to the locksmith and get the passenger door lock rekeyed to match the drivers lock.  The locksmith spent about an hour getting that sorted, but then we popped back to the shop, tidied up the install, and then scheduled when we’d get the window tinting done.  Good thing Ash and I learned the days of the week and how to say the time in our latest Spanish class!  After about 5 hours of work and running around he charged me $61 for parts and labor… yes, we saved at least $89 by not buying the parts from Autozone and by not doing the work ourselves.  Score.

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Step Three:  Window tint

Now that our truck was at least back to normal we really needed to upgrade some of the security.  We’ve got plenty of ideas, but the first step was to tint the windows.  Juan Carlos knew a tint guy so we drove to his shop  to get the work done.

By shop, I mean 1997 Ford Explorer.  The back of the Tintsplorer was open and displaying tint, lights, wiring, a built-in generator (to run his Makita power tools) and hand tools.  Legit.  As you may have guessed I was slightly sceptical, but there were a couple of cars waiting to get work done and a couple more showed up while were there.  There has got to be some reason for his popularity, right?  No point in hesitating, we were there now so he tinted the back windows as dark as possible and the side windows slightly less dark.  Supposedly this is decent quality 3M tint film, but for $60 we weren’t too concerned about the quality… we’re just happy that the bad guys won’t be able to see inside the truck very easily anymore.  Out of sight, out of mind… right?

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Step Four:  Install amplifier instead of stereo

We’re still waiting on the amplifier to arrived from Canada to Playa Del Carmen in Ash’s mom’s suitcase.  When it shows up we’ll mount it in the lockbox and have a simple connection to our iPod.  Nice and simple and stupid-hard to steal.

Step Five:  Cables/locks for lock box…

Speaking of our Delta lock box… even with the tint and fixed door locks we know it’s pretty easy to break into the truck, spend some time with a crowbar, and eventually get into the lockbox and steal our junk.  We picked up a big chain and a couple of locks to hold down the lid and make it that much more difficult to get in.

Step Six:  Wheel locks

We’ve had our McGard wheel nuts sitting in the back of the truck since we left.  After a second reminder to lock down our junk I finally installed them so we can keep our wheels and tires firmly attached.

Step Seven:  Pretty-up the truck

After some of the security issues were dealt with we wanted to take advantage of Juan Carlos’ shop and clean up the truck a bit.  Our bumpers and rocksliders were a little rusty from our time on the beach in Baja so we thought it was time for a repaint.  We brought the truck to the shop, prepped everything (including our rear steel canopy door which was still red…), and for less than $30 put down a few coats of black.  After a few weeks in Guanajuato we were now looking good and ready to hit the road for some more adventures.

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13 comments

  • Dean & Sara

    Sorry to hear about the 2nd break-in. The Toyota is looking slick as usual. You guys have one of the best looking trucks on the overlander scene these days. Safe travels… S.Taco

    Reply
  • Peter

    Would suggest looking at after market alarm as well, if you don’t have one already.

    I bought Viper 350 from ebay and it was around 60$. Attach it to door light and configure it to set off when car is bumped harder (adjustable setting) or doors are opened. It will make lots of noise which can help to notify you (if you are nearby) or at least grab some attention of other people and possibly scare thief’s away.

    Reply
  • Mike Frieary

    Ummmm I’m from another country so you owe me a snickers! But seriously bummer about the breakin.

    Reply
    • Rich and Ash

      Mike, if you guys slow down and wait for us I’ll buy you a Snickers for sure!

      Reply
  • Chris

    Dude! You guys are doing such an incredible job on this stuff.

    Reply
  • Sylvester

    What sources do you use to keep up on local news and weather reports? What method do you use to avoid dangerous parts of Mexico. The reason I ask, I work with a Mexican nationalist born in that region and he expressed some concerns about personal safety? Sorry, to bring this up on such a wonderful journey, but it am now concern for you person safety? I am truly enjoying your blog.

    Reply
    • Rich and Ash

      Sylvester,

      We tend to talk to the locals and talk to other travellers in the general area to get up to date information. There have only been a couple of places that we had heard of being dangerous, but even then there have been no incidents when travelling through. Personally we have never once felt concerned about our safety on this trip so far, but we’re not going very far off the beaten track. R&A

      Reply
  • Brenton & Shannon

    Ouch! Sorry to hear you guys had a break-in…again. Since you guys can’t really sleep inside the RTT in cities, you might want to be more selective about where you park…I hate to be “that guy”, but I just hate to see your beautiful Yota being violated and I want you guys to keep enjoying the journey 🙂

    The couple of bucks for an estacionamento in a central location is worth every penny and you’ll have less to worry about while you’re away from your über-mobilehome. Sometimes you can even talk the night attendant into letting you sleep in your setup overnight. That became our favorite option for cheap sleeping in cities and there’s no better way to know your rig is safe at night.

    Keep up the great work guys. Cheers

    Reply
    • Rich and Ash

      Normally this is exactly what we do. This time we were definitely just in the wrong place at the wrong time. 🙂

      Reply
  • Brad Van Orden

    Wow, twice just in Mexico?! Sorry to hear that. I’m a little surprised it took us until Argentina to get broken into, as we never locked anything up and had expensive junk hanging all over the outside of our vehicle. Still do, and after 2 years we only had the issue once in Argentina. Good luck, I hope this is just a bad streak!

    Reply
    • Rich and Ash

      We definitely weren’t surprised when it happened and are not taking it personally 🙂

      Just a reminder to keep our good stuff put away just in case.

      Reply
  • Heather and Scott

    The truck looks awesome. Let’s hope this was the last break-in! Looking forward to meeting you in South America!

    Reply
  • Sylvester

    Every time I see that truck, I get goosebumps. Its just plain wrong to damage such a fine looking truck.

    Reply

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