Paintball gear is very expensive (like I have to tell you). A lot of players have some really neat kit. Unfortunately, some do not want to work for equipment. They decide to steal it, instead.
At almost every major event (and on rare occaisons on normal play days at your field) something goes missing. It is a fact of life that there are thieves everywhere, just waiting for a victim to drop their guard long enough to allow the thief to strike.
I'm not saying that there are a lot of players who steal equipment or that paintball breeds this in people. Stealing is another form of cheating, it exists in our society and therefore it will exist in paintball. It's a fact of life.
Paintball is all about gaining the advantage over your opponent. You must move and think in such a way as to prevent your opponent from doing what they want to do against you. The purpose of this article is to help you gain an advantage over your opponent, the thief.
Your marker, balls and air supply should be stored separately. Especially if you have small children in the house or children who visit often. The least that could happen is that you have to scrub paint splats off your walls and have to replace a few lamp shades. The worst is that a child will lose and eye or take the marker outside and have it mistaken for a real firearm. (More on that in a bit.)
IN THE CAR
Avoid having bumper stickers which identify you as a paintballer. These bumper stickers really say, "Hey, break into my car. I might have some really expensive equipment in here.
Whenever possible your gear should be out of sight (preferably in the trunk) and in bags, boxes or cases.
Do not brandish markers openly in the car. Leave them where they are until you reach the field. A marker is easily misidentified as a real firearm. The police could be called and they have REAL guns. If called to the scene the police will have ther right to confiscate your marker and charge you with public nuisance or disturbing the peace. The police don't like being called out for a stupid misunderstanding when there are real criminals to apprehend elsewhere. They may just decide to teach you a lesson.
AT THE FIELD
Do not leave your gear unattended. If you have to go somewhere, have a teammate keep an eye on your gear. Team work isn't just used when you're surrounded by yellow tape. If you do not present a target to thieves they will not bother with you. A thief is basically a lazy person and they only go after something that will not take much effort.
Put your gear in the trunk and lock it. Many players have storage or "tote" boxes capable of being locked. I've even seen these boxes secured to a picnic table or post with a bicycle lock.
I'm seriously considering purchasing firearms trigger locks for my markers. A big honking piece of steal around the trigger will probably discourage most thieves.
I've also seen players putting cable-locks on their markers. These cables usually pass through the barrel, out of the direct feed and through the trigger guard. An effective deterrent.
OTHER PEOPLE'S STUFF
If you see gear unattended (especially at big events) take some time out of your day and sit by it until the owner comes back. When the owner arrives tell them their mistake and why you were sitting there. Let them know that their gear could have been stolen by a less than ethical person and that they should really be more careful. Remember to be polite.
MARK YOUR GEAR
Many of the members of our Club, the Canadian Contingent Paintball Club, routinely mark their gear with coloured adhesive tape. (Mostly hockey tape -- we're Canadian, after all.) This will not stop thieves from stealing but at least your teammate will know that the loader he borrowed last game is yours. Also it also helps to allow other players to return equipment you lost while playing. "Hey Bob, this squeegee has pink tape on it, I assume its yours?"
This is important because losing equipment is just as expensive as having it stolen. You no longer have it and you have to pay to replace it.
KEYS ON THE FIELD
Many players don't lock their car because they don't want to bring keys on the field. Keys on the field are bad for two reasons. One, they make noise. Two, if you lose them, you're toast.
Many fields have a key-check which allows players to leave their keys in a secure location and they can retrieve them at any time. (At larger events I have seen enterprising players running key checks for a few dollars a person. It was run just like a coat check where the player turned in their keys for safe keeping and was given a ticket so they could reclaim his keys any time they wished.)
Failing this I have seen some ingenious methods of keeping keys. One player had a set of car keys on his barrel plug. He said it made it kind of awkward to use the keys to open his car door (with the barrel plug in the marker, like it's SUPPOSED to be). He also stated that he's been playing for ten years and hasn't lost his keys yet.
Other players wear keys around their necks, like army dog tags. Other use a safety pin to secure the key at the bottom of a pocket. The Ottawa City Police (where I live) have key keepers on their belts onto which the key ring clips and that have a padded velcro strap that secures the keys and keeps them from jingling.
The idea is that if you only need one key to unlock your car, just bring one key. Teammates can also have copies of team car keys, just in case someone loses theirs.
I used to use combination locks because there was no key to lose, but that's not a very convenient tip if your car doesn't have a combo lock. (Which most cars don't.)
Keep a list of each marker's serial numbers and aftermarket accessories you have added to it. The numbers and descriptions of the equipment will help you identify them to the authorities.
NO QUESTIONS ASKED
If your gear is stolen. Make it clear that if anyone turns in your gear, you will say thank you and walk away. Perhaps a small reward could be offered. If you state that no questions will be asked, you gear may come back to you. Then again, it may not. Thieves are not known for their sudden attacks of conscience. So don't get your hopes up. Unfortunately, once it's gone, it's gone.
Think of paintball security as just another form of tactics you have to learn to play this game. As I have said, theives are basically lazy people and really only go after targets of opportunity. Just don't give them the opportunity.
- Do not leave any gear unattended.
- Keep your gear bag closed.
- Hide things out of sight.
- Mark your gear.