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News >  Pacific NW

Oregon hiking season means car break-ins at trailheads

April 8, 2022 Updated Fri., April 8, 2022 at 9:37 p.m.

By Kyle Odegard Corvallis Gazette-Times

The start of hiking season equals the start of car prowl season at local trailheads, said a supervisor with the Linn County Sheriff’s Office.

“They’re going to pick up as the weather gets nicer,” Capt. Brandon Fountain said.

Just this week, on Monday night, April 4, the Sheriff’s Office received a report of a car break-in at McDowell Creek Falls County Park, and a backpack, computer tablet and smart phone were taken while the owner was hiking, according to incident logs. The crime was reported at about 7 p.m., and the items were valued at nearly $2,500.

Fountain said when the snow melts from the high Cascades, trailheads for the Pacific Crest Trail are notoriously risky because thieves know those spots are remote, and hikers could be gone for several days.

“There’s an opportunity there,” he said.

Fountain urged residents to lock their vehicles and to not leave any items inside.

“If you’re going to a trailhead, take what you’re going to take on your trip, and leave any other valuables in the house,” he said. “It’s always beneficial to have a cleaner car. That way, somebody looking in it can see there are no valuables in it.”

Covering something up with a blanket or coat inside your car actually can be an incentive, as that provides criminals with a reason to look underneath, he added.

Capt. Don Rogers of the Benton County Sheriff’s Office said his agency typically sees more of a year-round pattern with car break-ins due to the number of trailheads in close proximity to Corvallis.

But that crime remains a problem at trailheads, including at Oregon State University’s McDonald and Dunn Research Forests, near Adair Village.

Rogers also encouraged residents to remove valuables from parked vehicles and lock their automobile doors – even if they are parked at home.

“It’s not as big of a problem if you live in the county. But if you live in the city,” Rogers said, “it’s not just locking your cars, but lock your house as well.”

The city of Corvallis has posted signs warning of car break-ins at Bald Hill Natural Area. A Corvallis Police Department supervisor could not be reached regarding this article on Wednesday afternoon and Thursday.

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