Red Rock Canyon Open Space. One of my favorite hiking spots in Colorado and as far as I’m concerned, one of the most beautiful places on earth. Every day of the week, there will be dozens and dozens of hikers at the park and on the weekends, it is hard to find a parking place at the trail heads.
My daughter, Eliza, and one of her friends took off one Saturday afternoon for a hike this past summer to enjoy this amazing park. At the end of their hike, as they approached Eliza’s car, her friend noticed it first – the passenger side window was smashed and her friend’s purse was stolen. Fortunately, Eliza had her ID and valuables on her. They were victims of trail head “smash and grab” theft. It didn’t matter that there was well over 30 cars and folks coming and going. Her friend had to have her locks changed at her apartment and car and to replace all of her ID and cards. Eliza had to have her window replaced. The theft caused them both time and money.
I’ve noticed signs at one of my favorite places for my daily hikers, North Park, an Allegheny County Park here in Pittsburgh, warning against theft. While it is only the thief who can be blamed for this crime, a few simple steps may help you avoid theft at the trail heads.
When possible, park in well traveled, safe areas. Look online before you go out and see if theft is common where you are headed. If the spot has a history of break-ins, you may want to change your plans.
Leave valuables at home and carry the necessary items on you while hiking. Stash any valuables that you do have with you out of sight – under the seat or in the trunk. Some folks go so far as leaving their glove compartments open so would-be thieves see that there is nothing to take. Others even go so far as to leave the car unlocked.
Always, always, always let others know where you are parking and your plans. Have a check-in time with them.
Have important contact information for local authorities stored in your phone. This is especially important if you are in an unknown or new area. Also have records of your ID, credit cards, etc. and car contents at home just in case someone does break in.
Report any break-ins with authorities and warn others on social media sites if you are an unfortunate victim to trail head theft.
Nothing ruins an amazing hike like what Eliza and her friend went through. Take the time to take a few simple precautions.