Deterring Vehicle Theft

There are several things that you can do to deter automobile theft.  The key concept is to make your vehicle undesirable to a thief.  This is the idea of target hardening.  Thieves look for vehicles that can easily blend in to the traffic and popular models with a large used parts market.  Here are some things you can do to deter thieves, particularly if you have a common model.

  • Always lock your doors
  • Keep your windows up
  • Install a car alarm
  • Install a gear shift lock (in the picture) or steering wheel lock
  • Etch your registration number on the glass/paint your registration number on the vehicle
  • Paint your vehicle so that it is unique and easy to spot (see picture)
  • Uglify your mirrors and lights to avoid theft with stickers, etching, or breaking
  • Hide valuables out of site
  • Keep a dog in your car
  • Park in lots with guards/attendants
  • Park in lighted areas
  • Disconnect distributor cap or battery if leaving for a long period of time

Missionary Emergency Information Template

There are several things that you can do now that will help during and emergency.  One important thing is to keep your information up to date with your teammates and the mission office.  A simple way to collect various types of information is a Microsoft Word document, or DOC file.  This common file type may be used to store text, pictures, maps, drawings, and more.  It can also be viewed and edited on any computer and most smartphones and mobile devices.  It does not require an internet connection or database skills, but can easily be emailed or stored on a USB drive.  Here is a sample Emergency Information Form that you could complete and send to your teammates and supervisor.  Download as DOC or PDF.

Things To Do In Your First Week On the Field

Even though you are stilled jet lagged there are some things you will need to take care of right away when you arrive of the mission field.  Here is a list to get you started.  This is based on  “Getting Acquainted with Your New Home” by Orville Jenkins.

Get legal

  • How long can I stay in the country?
  • What documents should I carry with me?
  • What documents do I need to drive?
  • What taxes, fee, or duties will I need to pay?
  • What should I do in case of an accident or emergency?
  • What laws relate to hiring workers?
  • Register with the embassy

Get online

  • Get a mobile phone
  • Get an internet connection

Get money

  • How can I change dollars to local currency?
  • Is it recommended to use credit or debit cards?
  • Where is an ATM machine?
  • How will I receive my financial support?
  • What expenses may be reimbursed and what is the procedure?
  • Will I have a cash advance for work or medical treatment?

Get moved in

  • Where will I live?
  • Will I have house help, yard workers, or a guard?
  • Are there any crime or safety issues related to my residence?
  • How much are monthly utility costs?
  • What should I do if there are housing or utility problems?

Get around

  • Where should I shop?
  • How much should I expect to pay for common goods?  Should I bargain?

Get prepared

  • Where is the hospital or clinic?
  • Where is the pharmacy?
  • What doctors do you recommend?
  • Where is a safe place I can go if case of emergency?

Foreign Travel Insurance

As important as it is to maintain good insurance as you serve overseas, it is equally important to have the right kind of insurance and know how to use it.  Whether you are serving for a couple weeks or a lifetime, you need to make sure your insurance will travel overseas with you.  Here are some things to look for in an insurance policy.

  • Medical Coverage – accident, sickness, evacuation/repatriation, family travel, accidental death & dismemberment, hospital deposit/cash advance, return of mortal remains
  • Security Coverage – crisis management, political evacuation
  • Liability Coverage – legal defense
  • Worker’s Compensation – extension of US worker’s comp

Two agencies that specialize in missionary insurance are listed below.  They offer insurance for mission agencies, churches, short-term trips, and others serving overseas.

Staying Informed

As a missionary, you are likely aware of the emphasis placed on some news (often US news) while other important stories are barely mentioned. How can you stayed informed on the important world news and keep you eye on what is happening in your region of the world? Here are some good ways to keep up with the news.  I prefer to have the news emailed to me instead of visiting websites.  They are listed in order,with the most useful ones first.

  1. AirSecurity HOTSPOTS – this covers major world events, with an emphasis on air travel.  It includes US, UK, Canadian, and Australian travel advisories.  Subscribe to this daily email
  2. OSAC Daily Newsletters – this covers the US State Department travel warnings and announcements, as well as links to news articles.  Subscribe to this daily email More about the OSAC
  3. CNN International – the non-US edition  Sign up for email/sms alerts
  4. BBC – See the mobile site and regional news services Signup for email/sms alerts
  5. Google Alerts – get notified via email when keywords that are important to you are posted online
  6. Google News – a customizable news and search website with country editions
  7. Press Display – view newspapers from around the world online
  8. Twitter Search – search real-time Twitter posts

Other Sites that may be helpful


Security Manuals

Are you prepared for an emergency situation?  Have you accessed the risk and developed contingency plans with your team?  Here are some good resources (PDF files) from large humanitarian organizations that help give a overview of security preparation.

Short-term Teams Security Training DVD

If you are looking for a way to equip short-term volunteer teams in the area of security, here is a great tool.  Fort Sherman Academy has produced a DVD called Safe Travel Solutions.  In six training modules, your team will learn how to handle hostage situations, demands for information, and general criminal activity.  More than generic security tips, this training is specifically designed for missionary volunteer teams serving overseas.  A key ingredient is the true testimonies of missionaries and short-term participants who were victims of various crimes.  This training is vital for new and experienced teams.  View short excerpts below or check it out at

Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC)

OSACThe Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) is a public/private sector organization affiliated with the US State Department.   Their mandate is to facilitate communication and serve as a liason with US-based organizations working abroad in the area of security.  They accomplish this primarily through providing information, training, and networking to member organizations.  The OSAC website and email newsletters provide reliable security information to the general public.  Registered (free) constituents may access even more information via the website.  The OSAC regularly offers security training seminars that focus of the various topics that affect their constituents.  Networking is provided through country councils, which are groups of US citizens representing their organizations who meet to discuss security matters.  They are hosted by the US Embassy and the regional security officer (RSO) is usually the contact.  The councils provide a good opportunity to network with other US companies and organizations in your country on the topic of security.