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Old 08-18-2015, 09:12 PM   #1
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Somebody tried to steal/vandalize my awning

Original post here:Andreas Duess | A blog about Airstreams and some other stuff

Somebody tried to steal, or vandalize, our ZipDee awning, in the process causing serious damage to our beautiful Airstream.

I noticed something strange when I visited the trailer two days before we were setting out on our summer trip to Long Point Provincial Park on Lake Erie. We store the trailer with RV Park and Go just north of Hamilton, in a secure lot, hidden well away from the street and prying eyes.

Because of our travels to Europe this year, we had not used the Airstream as much as we usually would have done. I decided to drop by two days before we were setting off for a week's camping in Long Point to make sure our batteries were charged, tire pressure ok, that we had propane on board. An insurance visit, to make sure we would have a good trip. When walking around the trailer, I noticed that one of the securing wheels on the awning was missing, and one of the supporting arms was out of its holder. At the time I thought that somebody had stolen the wheel itself, which was annoying, but not the end of the world as these are easily replaced.

I figured that all I had to do was get a replacement shipped, and thought nothing more of it.

Until, that is, we arrived at the campground and started to set up. If you own a ZipDee awning, you know that the one thing you never, ever, do is to let it snap back when packing up. Doing so can drive the fabric handle all the way underneath the front roller, making it difficult, if not impossible, to pull the awning forward again.

This is exactly what I found. Somebody had pulled out the awning, then snapped it back. Using wires, and pliers, I finally managed to free the handle and then pulled - only for the entire right side of the awning to come flying towards me, free from the support arm and ripping almost the entire awning support off the trailer's roof, rivets pinging in all directions.

A ZipDee awning on a 34' trailer is about 25' long. Its heavy, too heavy to be stopped by one person. The weight ripped the rivets connecting the top of the awning to the trailer right out. The left arm was still connected and stopped the entire awning come out, but the damage was done.

Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures, I was too busy, but it wasn't a pretty sight. Somebody, for whatever reason, had started dismantling the awning, then either gave up or got interrupted. When we pulled the awning out, the damage unfolded.

So here we were, just arrived, with three little kids and a trailer full of holes. My first thought was that rain was predicted for the next day, my second that CanAm RV was about an hour and a half away, so we should just pack the kids back into the car and tow the trailer up to London, then head home and cancel the holidays.

But cooler headed prevailed. A neighbour, who had seen the damage, rushed over with an offer of help, step ladders and tools. Together, we freed the remains of mangled metal and fabric, sawed off a drain and sealed the holes created with a tube of silicone that he had on board.

Because of the immense force generated by the awning ripping free, the holes were relatively clean, small and easily plugged - thank God for small mercies.

RV Park and Go responded to a terse, out of office hours, voicemail within ten minutes and are currently checking their security camera recordings. The silicone plugs survived a rainstorm and we're booked to drop the trailer off with CanAm RV on Saturday. Our insurance will most likely cover the damage and I hope that the old awning, which was in great condition, can be repaired and reused.

I'll be updating this post as developments warrant. Right now, my main question is: Why? Was this another Airstream owner, there are several parked on the same lot, who needed a spare part for his own awning? Did I make an enemy, towing with a minivan, who wanted to teach me a lesson by vandalizing my trailer? It wasn't a bunch of kids, that's for sure - they would have just smashed a window, or let a tire down. This was a targeted, precise, operation. But why? Unless the security cameras caught the act, I guess we'll never know.

The one bright light in all of this? The kindness of strangers. From out camp neighbour who pulled out all the stops to help, to others who enquired and offered support, it was a reminder that most people are wonderful, even if there are some bad apples around.
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Old 08-18-2015, 09:36 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by andreasduess View Post
Right now, my main question is: Why?
It could very well have been kids, in the middle-school to high-school range. Heck, whoever it was may have just wanted some shade and your awning was convenient.

It has been my experience that there's plenty enough malice in the world without attributing every random act to malice. In absence of clear evidence of deliberate intent, my default assumption is a simple lack of respect for other people's property. It's the difference between "Let's break this" and "I don't care if I break this; it isn't mine."

I may be wrong, and it could have been deliberate, but assuming that it's an accidental result of a thoughtless act could make it a little easier for you to sleep at night. I know that I would sleep better if it had happened to me and I was just a victim, not a target.
I thought getting old would take longer!
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Old 08-18-2015, 09:39 PM   #3
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What a lousy way to start a trip, but sounds like you all made the most of a bad situation. Hope the video coverage is revealing.
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Old 08-18-2015, 09:53 PM   #4
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Yeah…it's best not to jump to conclusions.

#1 If it's kids having a late night party, who opened the awning when it started to rain…..then it got windy…..Security Camera will nab them.

#2 Other Airstream owner would be foolish to steal parts from an Airstream in the same lot, knowing that there is a camera.

#3 A security guard stuck there alone, day in/ day out, watching RVs get old. Maybe he invites a friend to keep him company, maybe a pretty girl. What classier place could he find then under the awning of a big beautiful Airstream, like the one McDreamy had on Grey's Anatomy….then it got windy, and he doesn't know how to close it…OH ….BIG SURPRIZE…CAMERA SHOWS NOTHING.

#4 You made an enemy, towing with a minivan. Someone wanted to teach you a lesson by vandalizing your trailer. That's just stupid, I would have hit the Minivan.
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Old 08-19-2015, 07:13 AM   #5
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Hope you have fun!
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Old 08-19-2015, 09:34 AM   #6
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Years ago, at our "very secure" storage area, a group of guys broke into a bunch of RVs in one night. They climbed on top of each, broke out the roof vents, and sent a small skinny kid down into the RV to unlock it from the inside. Once inside, they stole items they thought might have value.

They broke into several RVs adjacent to our AS. But, because of the curved roof profile (and the fact that I wax our AS frequently), they couldn't get onto our roof. They even opened the water heater access door and tried to stand on it to get a solid footing for better access to the roof. It bent under their weight and they moved on to easier prey leaving our AS without any further damage. We were lucky.

Our storage facility had cameras on site and determined that it was a group who came in during business hours the day before. They stayed until long after closing time, then went to work. They were not able to be identified. And, the storage facility had a clause in their contract that absolved them from this type of damage. Those who were robbed had to rely on their own insurance.

Sorry to hear of your incident. Glad to hear that thanks to your good Samaritan neighbors you were able to get some enjoyment from your vacation. Please let us know the ultimate outcome of your repair.
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Old 08-19-2015, 10:24 AM   #7
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I am so sorry this happened to you! I hope they are able to find something helpful on the security camera recordings.
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Old 08-19-2015, 03:58 PM   #8
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So sorry this happened to you guys. And so glad--isn't it neat how often people just want to help? I know that Andy at CanAm will take good care of you, and soon you'll be whole again with no worries.
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Old 08-19-2015, 05:27 PM   #9
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Sure frustrating when something like that happens - little b*stards !

A few years ago when we had a different trailer (a UK designed "Award" SOB) and had it stored at a different storage yard than we now use - we were lucky to have avoided serious damage.

We had taken our trailer out to head to Florida one winter, and when we got home, found that vandals hanging out under a railroad underpass adjacecnt to the storage yard had thought it would be fun to throw "ballast" (rocks) from the railroad tracks at all the stored RV's.

Many smashed windows, and holes punched in fiberglass panels .

I was very thankful we had been away at the time. - Imagine the damage repair cost if our trailer had been there, and if we had owned the AS at that time!

We now store the trailer in a much less convenient spot about 15 miles out in the country with cows for neighbours rather in the urban area where we live!

Hopefully more secure - but they still do have gated entry and security cameras too!

Brian & Connie Mitchell

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Old 08-19-2015, 06:26 PM   #10
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"We store the trailer with RV Park and Go just north of Hamilton, in a secure lot, hidden well away from the street and prying eyes. "

That "security" works both ways. Yes, if people don't know it's there, they won't think to bother with it. Once discovered by vandals or thieves however, they use the anonymity to hide them and, affords them the opportunity to take their time. If you're lucky, the security camera footage may identify them (but I wouldn't hold my breath). If there's good cell phone coverage where you park your trailer, a cell phone based alarm / security system might be a prudent measure (and may get you a discount on your trailer insurance).

Did you make a police report as soon as you saw the damage? The dollar value of your loss should easily reach felony level criminal mischief. The smooth surface of an Airstream should be ideal to recover fingerprints.
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Old 08-19-2015, 07:01 PM   #11
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With exception of "collateral damages"... I really thought this would be a nice touch...

Peace and Blessings..
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Old 08-19-2015, 07:28 PM   #12
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ZipDee actually suggests you allow the last few feet of awning to snap back in as to roll it in tight.
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