Avoiding Car Break-ins
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.
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."