Dear Black Bag Confidential Reader,
Another week… another batch of reader mail… another great set of questions.
Read on below to find out how to prevent car break-ins, where to get ammo on the cheap, the truth behind a common battery storage myth — and more.
Don’t forget — if you have a burning survival question, send it to SPYfeedback@LFB.org so I can address it a future article.
You also have former Navy SEAL sniper Cade Courtley and special operations physician Omar Hamada at your disposal. Send your questions for these guys to SPYfeedback@LFB.org as well.
Now, let’s dive in.
My car has been broken into twice in the last few weeks. Window smashed and everything. The second time there was nothing visible worth stealing, but they still went through all the compartments anyway. What can I do to make my car less appealing to thieves? It’s not even a nice car.
— Ron S.
Do you live in Baltimore city, by chance? I lived there for a few years while my wife was in law school and I was the only person I know who didn’t have their car broken into.
One of the most important things you can do, Ron, is choose where you park — and choose carefully. If you have the option, park in a well-lit area with as much foot traffic as possible. The more people who walk by your car, the more likely a criminal will think it’s too risky to break in.
Now, as you mentioned, you should never leave anything in your car that might attract a thief. This includes wires and any type of charger. Their presence indicates there might be actual electronics stored somewhere in the vehicle.
Also, be sure to clean off your windshield if you have a GPS or a phone mount that suctions to the glass. The ring it leaves also implies there might be valuable devices hidden in the car. Don’t forget criminals like to steal stereos, too, so it’s a good idea to remove your stereo’s faceplate if you can.
Or you might consider leaving your car doors unlocked. That way, a determined thief won’t have to smash your window. They can just open the car and see for themselves there is nothing of value to take.
How much ammo should I stockpile for when the SHTF? Where can I get bulk ammo for cheap? Obviously, I don’t want to sacrifice quality, but I don’t want to spend an arm and a leg either…
— Justin J.
I recommend stockpiling a minimum 2,000 rounds of ammo for an emergency. If you have multiple firearms and cost is an issue, these 2,000 rounds should be for the caliber of gun you plan on using the most in a survival situation.
For example, if you own a Glock 19 as well as a shotgun but you plan on using the Glock, you should store 2,000 rounds of 9 mm ammo and maybe a hundred or so shotgun shells. (Of course, more never hurts if you can afford it.)
One of the places I’ve found to purchase ammo at decent prices is Cheaper Than Dirt. It’s an online retailer that offers lower prices than most other websites or brick-and-mortar stores.
How do you store batteries long term? Is it true that if you keep them in the fridge they’ll last longer? My remote died the other day, and when I opened the drawer where I keep extra batteries, I noticed they all had dried white stuff coming out of the ends…
— Helen L.
Unfortunately, it’s a common myth that keeping batteries in the freezer will make them last longer. It can actually do more harm to the batteries. The ideal spot to store batteries is in a cool place — around 70 degrees.
Before storing your batteries for the long term, you should wipe both the positive and negative ends of the battery with a clean rag to remove any grime.
Finally, store batteries in a container where they won’t come in contact with anything else. Keeping loose batteries in a drawer where they rattle around and bump up against pens, loose change and other metal can actually damage the batteries over time.
Letting your car run in the driveway while it powers your cellphone is an insane idea. You are trading gasoline, which you can’t replenish (gas stations don’t have power either), for electricity that is already in the car’s battery. Almost all cars have an outlet that is wired to the battery or switched on when the ignition is in the accessory/auxiliary position to supply power. Your phone charger will not draw enough power to drain the vehicle battery. Or if vehicle charge is a concern, you could start it every three–four hours run it for five minutes and then shut it off. Wouldn’t this be a much better idea?
— Jan M.
This is a good idea, Jan, and a fair point about fuel scarcity. However, in a survival situation sometimes you need to make a tough call and decide what is more important under the circumstances.
If you desperately need gas, then don’t drain your gas tank charging your devices. But if you’ve got plenty of gas — and you won’t be going anywhere — and communication is your No. 1 concern, then charge your phone.
In other words, take a moment to figure out your greatest need and prioritize it accordingly.