Thieves target vehicles at trailheads in eastern Grand County
Ryan Summerlin September 11, 2013
The summer season saw nearly 20 thefts from cars in eastern portions of the county, with popular trailheads being the primary target.
According to Grand County Sheriff Rod Johnson, the 19 recorded cases are “slightly above normal.” Thieves smashed car windows, pilfering everything from wallets and purses to electronics and camping gear.
“We have some follow-up to do, but there are no solid leads on this whole thing,” Johnson said on Monday, Sept. 9, noting the last reported incident was the day before. “Most of them were trailhead-oriented.”
The sheriff’s office upped its watch of recreation areas, and has partnered with the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to “add more eyes to the field,” Johnson said. Patrolling all the county’s trailheads, however, remains a formidable task.
“You couldn’t patrol all the trailheads in Grand County in one day, even if you wanted to,” Johnson said. “Trailheads are just difficult to patrol unless you have a lot of man power.”
The break-ins peaked twice, during the weeks of Independence Day and Labor Day, with five incidents reported around each holiday. By far the most targeted area was the Meadow Creek Reservoir/Junco Lake trailhead, which had six reported thefts over the course of the summer. The Byers Peak and Darling Creek trailheads saw two car break-ins this season, as did Pioneer Park in Hot Sulphur Springs and the Water Board Road area near Winter Park. Other targeted trailheads included Devil’s Thumb near Tabernash, Second Creek near Winter Park, St. Louis Creek near Fraser and Trail Creek near Granby.
“Whether these are all related or not, that’s a good question,” Johnson said. “We have no reason to believe they are, but no reason to believe they’re not.”
Hikers and backpackers often stash billfolds, electronics, gear and other valuables in their cars instead of carrying them on trails, Johnson said. But that’s exactly what thieves expect, even when recreationists take care to hide items under seats or in glove boxes.
“The thief might have to look for it, but he’s got a feeling it’s in there somewhere,” Johnson said. “My advice is to not have anything in the vehicle you wouldn’t want stolen.”
Johnson also advises reporting thefts by calling the sheriff’s office. If recreationists catch robberies in action, he said to exercise caution before any confrontation and to immediately dial 911. But like regular police patrol, Johnson acknowledges with remote trailheads, cell coverage is often spotty.
“It’d be nice to think we have cell service everywhere,” he said. “It’s a challenge, we understand that.”