Safety Precautions for Trailheads
While it’s great to go on a trail walk, you still have to take precautions when it comes to things left in your vehicle. Thieves have been known to break into vacant cars and rifle through personal belongings in search of cash or valuables. It’s sad that you have to be on the lookout for thieves in a nature area, but unfortunately, they are everywhere.
You would expect to be safe in a national park or recreation area but break-ins are a regular occurrence and thieves are often after electronics or cameras, things they can sell quickly. They often break windows to get in costing the vehicle owner hundreds of dollars in repairs.
The biggest danger to you is to leave your wallet, purse or cell phone in your vehicle while hiking. Thieves will absolutely go after these first. The thing to remember about having your wallet/purse stolen isn’t losing the money inside. It is having your Identity Stolen. Short term advantage, yes they want your money, but long term, they want your identity, usually as a method to gain a financial advantage or obtain credit and other benefits ( medical identity ) in your name, and perhaps your disadvantage or loss.
You may hear people suggest all kinds of crazy tactics to deter robbers like leaving trash in the vehicle or notes on the dash saying you’ll be right back are well-intentioned but often are not effective. Leaving doors unlocked or windows down to avoid windows being broken to gain entry is also not effective at deterring thieves from breaking into your vehicle and stealing whatever they can.
You can do your best to disguise anything you have in your vehicle to keep thieves from seeing it but there are no guarantees your vehicle won’t be broken into. The only sure way to avoid theft is to leave your vehicle at home or somewhere else.
Here are a few tips from law enforcement for avoiding vandalism:
● Have a friend drive you and drop you off or get a ride from an outfitter. The charge for this service is $10-$20 and is well worth it to keep your vehicle safe. You can park there in their lot and they will drop you off and pick you back up at the end of the day.
● Park close to other vehicles and people. Frequent activity keeps thieves from going about their business. A lot of people around is a deterrent because they could be spotted easily and reported.
● Stash your belongings in the trunk out of sight of thieves. Make sure locks are secure and keep things out of view. Remove exterior storage devices and place them in the trunk before leaving the vehicle. Remove everything from the vehicle so there is nothing visible to steal, clearly not worth breaking into to get nothing. Take valuables with you if necessary, hidden in your pockets or backpack.
● Remove the faceplate on your stereo if possible and leave the glove compartment open and empty to show that the car has been cleaned out and there is nothing to steal.
● Despite your best efforts, if your vehicle is broken into make a list of all missing items for your insurance company and to add to the police report. If your purse or wallet was stolen call and cancel your credit cards so they can’t be used. If there are cameras on the premises they could help identify thieves and help you recover your belongings.
● If your wallet or purse is stolen, take the precautions above, but your best bet is to be proactive and have existing Identity Theft & Restoration protection.
The beauty of nature is there for everyone to enjoy. Don’t let thieves ruin your adventure and rob you of the simple pleasure of relaxing in the outdoors. Plan ahead and leave your belongings at home where they are safe from bein