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Uptick in trailhead thefts expected this summer in western Washington

Thieves aren't just looking for valuables. They are also searching for personal information.

ISSAQUAH, Wash. — Packed trailhead parking lots are expected to be a target for thieves this summer, and they're not just looking for valuables left in the vehicle.

The Washington State Patrol (WSP) has already seen an uptick in smash-and-grabs at trailheads throughout western Washington this year. The organization expects to see an additional increase during summer when more people are leaving their cars unattended at trailheads for several hours.

On May 20, the lot across from the popular Poo Poo Point trailhead in Issaquah was targeted. Tricia, one of the victims, thinks the thief broke into six cars. She said they didn't take any of her belongings, but she believes the thief was looking for her registration, an address and possibly a garage door opener. Thieves use personal information to locate a person's home and break in.

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Tricia posted a photo of her car on a local hiking Facebook group to warn others.

“That was a surprise. It's kind of brazen to just break into cars," said Mike Bjorkegren, who hiked Poo Poo Point on Monday.

Bjorkegren saw Tricia's Facebook post and decided to take extra precautions.

“We took out things from our glove box like the registration and things like that, and we took photos of that and put them on our phone," explained Bjorkegren. "So if we needed them, they're there, but not in the car."

The WSP said it is working with other law enforcement to increase patrols at trailheads.

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission shared the following tips to keep hikers safe from trailhead car prowls:

  • Park in well-lit areas
  • Do not leave any valuables in your car
  • Make sure doors and trunk are locked
  • Report any signs of worrisome behavior
  • Be aware of your surroundings
  • Store your registration in your trunk or lockbox that is attached to your vehicle
  • Create a safety circle when you go on a hike (tell someone where you’ll be and how long you anticipate to be gone)

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