Skip to main content

4 Steps to Protect Your Belongings During a PPM/DITY Military Move

by PCSgrades Staff - August 8th, 2022

4 Steps to Protect Your Belongings During a PPM/DITY Military Move

You’ve likely heard the ultimate PCS horror story: a military family is moving across the country with their household goods packed into a moving trailer when everything is stolen in the middle of the night. 

Yes, it happens. No, we can’t imagine. Yes, we want to help you protect your personal belongings during a personally procured move (PPM), formerly called a DITY. We talked to a military mover who gave us the inside scoop on how to better secure your truck or trailer during your military move. 

4 steps to protect your belongings during a PPM/DITY military move: 

1. Do your research before the move

When doing a PPM/DITY military move, you will likely pack all your household goods yourself. Start by identifying any really high-value items (either monetarily or sentimentally) and try to keep as many of these on your person as possible: Grandma’s pearls, Great Grandpa’s Army medals - anything small that you can carry with you, do. Take it in your personal vehicle and into your overnight destination. 

When you’re labeling boxes, especially ones that will be left in your vehicle, don’t draw attention to them with high-value labels like “Nike collection” or “Italian purses.” Labels like “old shoes” and “grocery bags” will still get the job done without drawing extra attention to your valuables. 

Of course, not everything of value will fit in your car when you PCS across the country. You will likely rent a U-Haul or moving van. To best protect your belongings, research each of your planned overnight stops ahead of time. Call the hotel and ask if they have on-site security or if there’s well-lit parking. Be sure you can park your moving van or truck at the hotel. 

Bonus: get your car ready for a cross-country trip by following these tips.

2. Take security into your own hands

Many moving van locks only have a handful of key options, which means they’re pretty easy to unlock. They’re also easy to cut. We recommend having your own locks in addition to the provided ones. Consider investing in locks that sound an alarm when tampered with. 

Alarms and locks will prevent someone from breaking into your vehicle and taking a few boxes. But we also want to prevent someone from stealing everything, including the vehicle. The best way to do that is by using a steering wheel lock, which essentially renders your vehicle useless to would-be thieves. You can purchase high-quality steering wheel locks from most big-box stores or online. 

Finally, don’t discount a car security camera. There are a plethora of options on Amazon or at big-box retailers. These cameras utilize your phone and an app, allowing you to keep an eye on your possessions from anywhere. The cameras also serve as a motion detector, deterrent, and recording device if someone does approach your vehicle. 

3. Park with a purpose

One of the most important things you can do to protect your belongings during your military move is to park with a purpose. Back your truck into a parking space where the back access is blocked by either bushes or a wall. Use your own car to “trap” the moving van or truck so it can’t be stolen. Park in a well-lit location, preferably with security cameras. 

4. Plan for the worst

Hope for the best, but plan for the worst. Put Air Tags in the vehicle so you can always track your moving truck’s location. Find out whether or not your moving truck and the contents are covered by insurance if stolen. Call your insurance company to see what’s covered and if you can increase coverage during your military move. Many auto policies will cover the vehicle, but not the contents; make sure you know your entitlements!

We all know Murphy strikes when a plan isn’t in place. Consider increasing your insurance coverage as a meager offering to the PCS gods. 

Report your lost belongings to the military community

If the worst-case scenario happens and some or all of your belongings are stolen, report it to the Lost During My PCS group. This group allows military community members to report stolen items and be on the lookout for one another’s belongings.


Instagram Page:

Be sure to join our Lost During My PCS Facebook Group, too! Moving is hard enough. Take the stress out of your PCS by making sure your goods are protected while they’re en route. 

PCSgrades Staff