Don’t leave valuables in your car at bike trails

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Sometimes when you park your car at your favorite bike trail or to meet up for a group bike ride you’ll see a sign something like the one posted at the Foothills Trail East Puyallup Trailhead:

Theft area

“Park at your own risk. High theft area. Do not leave valuables in your car.”

A recent incident at the Tiger Mountain State Park parking lot reported at an Evergreen Mountain Bike website tells why we should take precautions.

“Our cars were broken into on Thursday morning in the lower parking lot at Tiger Mountain. The robbers stole our garage door clicker and address info, and then broke into our home in Seattle immediately following.”

This is a good warning and good advice. When considering valuables, I frankly wouldn’t include the garage door opener or some old envelopes stuffed in the door pocket.

In fact, vehicle registration is a favorite target of some of these thieves because it has your address, and they know that if you’re out on the trail, then you aren’t at home.

After a spate of car break-ins followed by home burglaries in the Redmond area in April, police there recommended people make a copy of the vehicle registration and carry it with them instead of leaving it in the car.

They also suggested taking all valuables out of the car.

Authorities often recommend parking in busy, well-it areas, although that isn’t always possible when you’re scoping out secluded singletrack.

One response to the car-break-in-home-burglary warning recommended taking all the valuables (including ID) out of the car, then leave it unlocked and with the windows down. That prevents anyone from breaking a window with a rock only to find that there’s nothing inside to take.

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  1. I know this isn’t always practical, but consider riding to the trailhead instead of driving. If you can, you’ll not have anything left at the trailhead to steal.

    I grew up in Eastern Kentucky near the Red River Gorge. There have been waves of break ins, particularly at more remote parking areas, for climbers, hikers and the like. Back when I was climbing and the area was going through a more troublesome spat of break-ins I had friends that would remove even their ashtrays because thieves might think there was change in them. One guy even went so far as to take EVERYTHING not nailed down out of his car and leave the windows down so thieves would break his glass. I argued that that made it easy for them to steal his car battery very quickly, but he was okay with that.

    Some tips:

    Don’t leave backpacks, purses or gym bags, even if empty, in your car. The unknown is an attractive nuisance to thieves.

    Carpool, or get a shuttle, to the trailhead if the break-ins are very bad.

    If you don’t want to carry items on your bike/hike then just don’t take them with you. Leave iPods, cell phones, CDs, etc, etc at home if you think you’ll end up leaving them in your car.

    Drive your (or a friend’s) beater to the TH. If you are in the least attractive car at the TH then you’ll theoretically be the last target for thieves. At least you increase your chances.

    1. That’s a good point about riding your bike to the trailhead if you live close enough. Also, bicyclists have an advantage over hikers in that they can cover more distance in shorter time. We can find a safer place to park that might not be so isolated, then ride to the trailhead.

      At the Foothills Trailhead, for instance, I was told that many cyclists park about a mile away at a commercial parking area that gets more traffic.

  2. “Wouldn’t” break his glass…

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