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Trailhead Breakins - OutdoorPlaces.Com
 Trailhead Break In - page 2  

There are a number of things you can do if you do decide to leave your car at a trailhead to reduce your chance of becoming a target.  Most of this is common sense, but sadly sometimes in our rush to get to the outdoors, we take shortcuts that can make us a target.

  • Lock the doors.  Common sense dictates this but ever day law enforcement officers hear about cars being stolen or broken into that were not locked.  Also make sure that all the windows are completely rolled up, and any side vents or sunroofs are closed. Car Breakins are not common, but devastating to the victim

  • Leave nothing valuable in the car.  Also be sensitive not to leave a coat lying on a seat, an empty bag on the floor, or a couple of CD's lying around.  Have the cabin of the car completely devoid of anything from site, and make sure any nook or cranny is visible.  Some people even put notes on the dashboard saying, "no valuables inside, no valuables in the trunk."

  • Don't put your valuables in the trunk.  Thieves know their are goodies in the trunk just like bears know their are goodies in metal cans.  Decide what you need.  Even if you discover the batteries are dead on your GPS and you forgot the spares and you know the trail anyway, take it with you.

  • Let the local authorities know (if applicable) you are leaving your car at the trailhead.  In National Forests and public lands where county or local police may patrol, they will be more than glad to keep an eye on the local trailhead, and in some cases, as other agency may investigate the break ins, may not even be aware of them.

  • Remove stereo face plates and expensive electronic equipment.  If you have nice accessory equipment in your vehicle, like upgrade stereos, GPS navigation systems, or cellular phone, you should make a point to get equipment you can remove and stow or take with you.  If you have an external cellular phone antenna you should remove it.

  • Set to park and set the brake.  When you park your car set the transmission in park and set the parking brake.  If you have a manual transmission, set the gear selector in reverse and set the parking brake.  This makes the car more difficult to tow.

There has been some discussion in some circles about setting booby traps up in cars left at trailheads.  Although the thought of dousing a thief in dye, zapping them with low voltage, surrounding you car with trip wires and claymore mines, or even more violent means is satisfying, it is in almost all cases illegal.  You should never set a booby trap in your vehicle.

You do have to keep in mind that no matter what you do, if a thief is serious about break in or stealing your vehicle, they will steal it.  Anyone who has experienced a break in probably wishes they could own James Bond's car that exploded when the bad guy tried to steal it, but that kind of technology is illegal (and violates LNT anyway, all those car parts).

So what can you do if you are broken into?  Above and beyond reporting to the local authorities and completing a police report, you should also contact and report the incident to the local chamber of commerce, and any local department of tourism.  These are the best people to put pressure on to improve the safety of leaving a vehicle at a local trailhead.  Most people that work in area tourism or chamber of commerce are influential in their communities, and if there are multiple complaints, can put pressure on the controlling authorities to step up patrols or come up with better solutions.

Until the time comes when we can have non-lethal force fields around our vehicles, and roving robots to watch the sites, common sense will have to prevail.  There is no guarantee that you will not become a target, but by doing some simple steps, you greatly reduce your chances of becoming one.

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