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There are more and more trailhead break-ins happening and the locations are too remote for any type of law enforcement to oversee these crimes. It is up to those that are parking their cars, to make sure nothing worth stealing is in the car.
Last weekend a friend of mine stayed the night on top of Mount Pilchuck, only to come down to find his friends car had been burglarized. His friend had left his laptop in there. The picture I used on this blog was a recent break-in at Padilla Bay Trailhead. Nothing was stolen, but the window was broken.
Here is my suggestion for parking at any trailhead:
Jeff Kish adds: Never, EVER put stickers for BRANDS on your car.
Got a Patagonia (etc..) sticker on your car? You've made yourself a target. You're letting thieves know that you have a taste for valuable products. People like to do this because branding is a powerful thing, and they like to project an image about themselves that's associated with the brands of their choosing. My recommendation for those people is to stick to stickers that show the places you've been or the organizations that you support. It sends a similar message without the "break into me" subtext.
When I suggest to people that they leave their cars unlocked, it seems to be a tough idea for them to accept. My response is - You must have something in your car that you are worried will get stolen then. If someone wants to get into your car, then they WILL break your window. Better to go home without having to worry about replacing a window! If you do keep your car locked, then leave it thinking 'I could have left it unlocked because there isn't anything in there that I would care to lose'!
Cars can be stolen from a trailhead also of course. Keep in mind that if someone wants to steal your car, they will find a way. Locking the doors will not prevent this. Some hikers that have an option of cars to choose from, will take a car that is less likely to be stolen or looks like it has anything of value in it.
For another take on this subject - http://www.wta.org/signpost/keeping-your-car-safe-at-the-trailhead
Update: This picture was taken at the Fragrance Lake trailhead and Ranger Amber was evaluating the scene. She backed up my thoughts on leaving your car unlocked and also suggested that people may want to take all documents that have their name and address on them. I have also had quite a few people recommend that on social media...thanks everyone!
By: Rudy Giecek