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Avoiding Car Break-ins

Posted by Susan Elderkin at Aug 15, 2011 02:25 PM |

A WTA staffer had several items stolen from a car at Mount Rainier trailhead last weekend. WTA has included some tips to help prevent your valuables from being stolen.

A week ago Saturday, WTA's magazine editor, Lace Thornberg made it to the summit of Little Tahoma. That was the good news.

The bad news was discovering that her friend's car had been broken into at Mount Rainier National Park's Frying Pan Creek trailhead. And unfortunately, in an effort to go as light and lean as possible on the climb, she left her wallet "hidden" in the car.

Big bummer.

Of course you usually take your valuables with you. But there are probably times when you haven't - when you've stashed a wallet under the driver's seat or left a backpack visible. Usually, everything is fine. But sometimes a hiker isn't so lucky.

For Lace, it was a costly wake-up call. "I was reminded of just how important it is to carry your wallet with you when you hike. Somehow I had failed to do that on this trip, and, as a result, thieves now have possession of my street address, my credit card and my house keys."

It’s all too easy to forget about that smart phone or iPod lying on your backseat. Since locking your doors and windows won’t keep prowlers out if there are valuables visible in your car, park rangers recommend that you stash your valuables as part of your pre-trailhead routine.

  • Before you hit the road, ask yourself if there are valuables in your car that you won’t need on your trip. Leave them at home.
  • Before you arrive at the trailhead, lock any bags, extra clothing or items that look like contain valuables inside the trunk or place them well out of sight.
  • Be sure to take credit cards, driver’s license, phone and anything else of value with you in your pack.

When we posted on Facebook a recent notice from Mount Rainier National Park about trailhead break-ins, our fans added a few more pearls of wisdom:

  • From Sarah Kirkconnell: "Any place in your vehicle you think is a sneaky hiding spot, every crook knows about."
  • From Craig Romano: "Do not leave backpacks, dufflebags, etc. on the back seat, even if they only contain dirty clothes. Theives don't know that.
  • From Eleanor Pichaud: "I set my car alarm before I leave. I also keep meaning to get an insurance policy specifically for break-ins because I know it will happen again."

And in the unfortunate event of theft, be sure to report the crime, or any suspicious behavior, to park rangers immediately.

After spending the past week replacing her stolen identification, keys and other items, Lace vows never to leave anything valuable at the trailhead again. "I haven't had any trouble in nine years of hiking, but the consequences of just one incident of trailhead theft will serve as a good reminder not to leave my personal effects in the car again."


Avoiding Car Break-ins

One of my favorite methods of protecting your car from getting broken into is intimidation/fear. A picture of gunsights aiming at the car and the words 'TOUCH, DIE' work extremely well.

Posted by:

forresthicks4x4 on Aug 15, 2011 04:46 PM

Avoiding Car Break-ins

Yikes! Saw the glass from the broken out windows at the Fryingpan Trailhead on Friday. Knowing it was a fellow WTA-er makes it that much worse. I've heard a rumor that the thief met his match near the gravel piles on 410. If true, you can take comfort from knowing that there is some justice in the world.

Posted by:

KittridgeFamily on Aug 15, 2011 09:43 PM

Avoiding Car Break-ins

Please do NOT set your pointless car alarm. I once had to listen to one on the summit of Hidden Lake Peak, and ALL the way down; we were tempted to turn it off in a vicious way.
Leave your car EMPTY and unlocked; and you don't have to be mechanically gifted to figure out a sneaky way to disable your engine (back when there were distributors, I'd take out the rotor). A backpacker's wallet is a driver's license, insurance card, credit card, and a $10 bill; leave the rest at home.

Posted by:

Cascade Liberation Organization on Aug 16, 2011 09:32 AM

Avoiding Car Break-ins

I agree with the last post. After having my car window smashed two years ago, I take everything with me (leave most valuables at home) and leave car door unlocked. Yes, my car has been rifled through but to no avail to the thief. Beats the broken window. PS Don't leave your canvas grocery bags in your car as people will take those to transport goodies from other cars.

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