Vaults and Safes in Camper


It makes sense to have someplace in your vehicle to stash cash/passports/whatever, but it can be as simple as a hotel room type of safe that's bolted someplace. I also like a weapons box that installs within a driver's console for easy access.

If someone really wants to get in, anything can be opened with enough effort.


When traveling in the fun places I like to go, I almost always have 2 wallets on me. My real one and my toss one. The toss one has some cash, empty giftcards/pre-paid credit cards, and a few copies of pictures all to look real.

I use the same idea in my vehicles.

You need is to ensure your valuables are not found, and give a thief or someone who needs a quick bribe the chance for an easy win.

You dont need to worry that your hiding locations are found by authorities, unless there is smelly contraband (like potatoes if going to Canada :p ).

I have had my vehicle fully emptied during a boarding crossing, coming back into the US. They had no issues with our hiding spots.
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Probably cause is the phrase you are looking for. Good example you get stop for a defective light and when you roll the window down he says he smells marijuana. He will then ask if he can search. If you say no then he calls for a Drug K9 dog, He will then take the dog around the outside of your vehicle. The dog can and will crawl all over your vehicle. It does not matter that he leaves claw marks on your paint from climbing. The officer will then tell you that the dog HIT on the smell of drugs. A HIT can be a simple signal from the dog sitting at detection. Claims have been made of false positives or officer provoked HITs. If he claims the dog hit on the smell then he can legally search your vehicle. Even if he has to take it apart. You should see what they do at Border crossings to vehicles.

Most of the time when they ask you questions they are know the answer.
First, it’s probablE cause, and 2nd, an officers smell of marijuana is all that is required to search. No asking consent, no drug dog.


Something simple, our ceiling cabinets with lift-up doors on either side of the cabin, end at the back, and then there's one more on each side of the rear bulkhead. At the intersection there's an empty void between the two, and a hole to the void. We placed a velcroed piece of similar wood against the hole, and store our extra cash and passports back there. The small cabinet is large enough to stuff a stack of CDs, so they lift the door and see CDs! Build it in plain sight, and no keys or video is necessary. Our previous RV, a Winnebago Vectra 40 monster diesel pusher, had a keyed safe in the back bedroom. I'm sure RV thieves are pretty knowledgeable on certain 'features' of that kind of RV!

Recommended books for Overlanding


Thanks for the typo correction. I'll fix it...darn iPad.

I think your getting confused with PC for an arrest and search incident to that arrest (the occupant(s) and within the wing span of the driver/occupant, no closed containers) versus PC basis for search warrant or the motor vehicle exception to a search warrant.

But, first lets have some legal assumptions:
1) Not a border search.
2) Your state hasn't legalized MJ.
3) The odor is raw MJ versus MJ smoke. (Smuggling/hidden compartments/OP)
4) Routine traffic stop.
5) The officers training, experience and ability to articulate the smell of MJ (raw/smoked) to support his/her PC.
6) Your State/jurisdiction/LEA does not recognizes the "Motor Vehicle Exception" to the search warrant requirement.
(Primarily due to bad case law/policy violations or procedures issues..)
7) Your state/jurisdiction/LEA supports the arrest of a party based on MJ odor without supporting possession. (Curious which state this is?)

Now, given this criteria, an Officer stops a car for a PC traffic violation and while contacting the driver he/she smells MJ which is illegal in your state. The Officers PC is for the occupants for the illegal possession of the MJ. Following the arrest, He/she has the ability to conduct a "wing span" search of the occupant area for officer safety. This search is incidental to the possession arrest and does not include closed containers (again, dependent on your state law) Following the arrest, the officer has a couple more options. Impound the vehicle and inventory the vehicle (by department policy) and inadvertently discover the MJ or get consent from the occupants or get a search warrant.
Without this criteria, the mere odor of MJ isn't enough to throw the 4th amendment out the window and search a car.
Uh, no. First, someone cant be arrested for the sole odor of marijuana. Its either for possession or under the influence while operating a motor vehicle (DUI). While the wingspan and knowledge search is required to prove constructive possession, that will come after the search for the contraband. This isnt anything new either. This goes back many years to the Carroll doctrine. And there isnt any newer caselaw which would overrule a situation in a case of a simple traffic violation followed by an odor of marijuana.


I agree 100% with grenadiers, keep it simple! My wife and I traveled from BC down the Baja and never had any issues at all! But a throw down wallet is a great tool I use! We also use photo copies of drivers license and passports in case you have a dirty cop (we never did) and if he questions you about originals tell him you were mugged!


I would like to put in a couple of Safes/lockboxes in my Camper.

Can anyone discuss the legality of storing things in a safe? I think I read somewhere that once the vehicle is registered as an RV that it's technically a home and a warrant is required to search the cabin. If that's true then there would need to be additional warrants to search the locked containers.

Does having locked containers raise enough suspicion that they are more trouble then they are worth?
In regards to your original post... I think it warrants an evaluation of just how valuable those items you listed are to you I suppose. To me, I keep some very valuable things in my trailer - granted it is my home too, so there is that. But the security in knowing my valuables are 'somewhat' safe rather than just being open outweigh the potential negatives. Then again, I would be sure to leave elsewhere items that shouldn't go across borders. I am reminded of a time when a jackwagon of a Canadian border patrol agent searched my entire vehicle thinking I had a single round of ammo when going cross border to just get a beer and ice... In such situations, sure suspicion would be raised. But you have to ask yourself what the potential costs of those items being stolen by not having a safe would be. If theyre just some papers, then maybe no big deal. If theyre a passport of your life on a hard drive, or some firearms, then it quickly becomes a very big deal.

It also begs to question what kind of safe you need. Mine is simple; however, it is also fire proof and water proof so that in the case of my trailer burning down, valuables will be unharmed... That in itself can also change the game of the situation you might find yourself in as a simple lock box is easy, but an actual 'safe' is something else entirely....


kodiak guy
fireproof and waterproof are similar to bulletproof .... replace '____proof' with '_____resistant' and that's about as good as you're going to get

fire will bake the contents at a minimum, water always finds a way, and too often bullets do too. I would still recommend having a conspicuous safe that is minimally secured to your vehicle with rocks in it... then hide the things you would've put in the safe someplace else in your rig. thieves are generally lazy and want a fast score. reminds me of surveillance footage of a group stealing harleys - owners would have caliper locks, alarms, cable locks, killswitches etc - badguys roll up in a cargo van, throw a mattress down next to the bike, tip it over (alarms sound), load it in the cargo van and gone ... under a minute. where there's a profit they will find a way - but they still aren't going to put a ton of effort or time into it (ie; bike chained to something immovable - they likely would've gone on to target an easier bike).

by the way - love the John Muir quote ... good reminder to not get wrapped up protecting things that in the end really don't matter. If i'm out hiking someplace amazing while my rig gets broken into i'm willing to bet that in my final moments it's the hike i'll remember not the loss of 'valuables' (hah)