To all criminal vehicle lodgers in Key West,
First of all we are all unwashed and a detriment to the health and safety of tourists and residents of Key West. We are criminals.
I have never received a citation or been chased away by the Key West Gestapo. There is a reason for this. There are certain things you should and shouldn’t do to fly under the radar.
- If you are in a car, you are gonna get busted. You may get one warning, then you go to jail. This doesn’t apply to you.
- Where you park for the night makes a world of difference. Never, I repeat NEVER, park in a shopping center lot.
- Never park any place you are the only vehicle.
- Never park on the street in front of some one’s house. (they will call the Gestapo)
- Never park in a paid parking garage.
- Never spend more than ONE night in a business’s lot that is open all night. (ie. McDonalds)
- Never park in a Motel/Hotel lot. (they have security people looking for you)
- Never park on private property.
So where do you park? First you must prepare your van for sleeping.
- Look objectively at your van. Does it look from the outside that you are in there?
- Look in every window. Does it look like you are living there?
- Do not leave clothing in plain site.
- Do not leave cooking gear (pots, pans, dishes, grills, charcoal etc.) in plain site.
- Do not leave food (can goods etc.) in plain site.
- Beach chair, cooler, and a towel is OK.
- If you have a bicycle, have a rack, with a good lock, on the back of your van.
- Do not have a dog in your van. (it will bark and you will be busted)
- Use something to block the Gestapo from looking through the windows where your bed is. (back windows, rear side windows) Tinting does not work because a powerful flashlight will allow them to see in.
- Do not block windshield, side windows, or any window except to hide you while sleeping.
After preparing your van, find a place to park. (follow the above rules) I recommend on the street by a resort, motel, hotel, etc. that does not have enough parking for their customers. Customer then have to park on the street. This is very common in Key west. (one of the best is either side of Casa Marina)
Find your spot and park there as early as possible. Or leave it there for a few days. Leave your van immediately. Take a bike ride, walk to the beach, or wherever.
- DO NOT return to your van until you are ready to sleep. The later the better. (I always waited until at least midnight.) This allows the Gestapo to see your van parked there all day with no one in it.
- Once in your van for the night, do not turn on lights or use a radio!
- Do not smoke!
- Only open windows a small crack. (never enough for a hand or flashlight)
- Leave your van as early in the morning as possible. (I always left by 6:00AM) or drive to wherever you plan to spend the day.
If the Gestapo does knock on your van at 3:00 AM, stay calm, do not move a muscle, (any movement will be noticed) They will shine lights in your windows, beat on the side of your van, rock your van, knock on your windows, and just generally be a pain in the ass, hoping you will say something. STAY CALM AND DO NOT MOVE!!!!! They will eventually go away. Stay still for at least another 30 minutes. If you are legally parked they can do nothing if they don’t know you are inside.
I hope this helps as many as possible.
Remember, this is just as much our island as theirs. We all have a target on our backs, aimed at by the City of Key West. STAY SAFE!!!
1999 Dodge van
Key West, Fl. 33040