Warm weather brings outdoor enthusiasts, thieves to local trailheads

Published On: Mar 25 2013 06:16:46 PM PDT   Updated On: Mar 25 2013 06:17:32 PM PDT
Dan Kolbet
SPOKANE, Wash. -

Car prowling is on the rise as thieves are taking advantage of warmer weather and outdoor enthusiasts by hitting cars parked at area trailheads.

With spring in the air and temps on the rise it was the sun that finally coaxed Dan Kolbet outside.

"I just decided to go for a hike," Kolbet said. "You know I was sitting inside the house thinking 'I shouldn't be watching a movie I should be getting some exercise.'"

So he set off for the trailhead of Indian Painted Rocks at Rudder Parkway. Kolbet went for a hike only to come back and find his car window busted out.

"Stole my wallet and ruined my day and today hasn't been a very good time," he said.

Local law enforcement officials report crimes like this are on the rise in our area.

"To this point we've seen a dramatic increase in our vehicle prowling, especially at the trailheads for Centennial Trail, all the way from the west plains to the state line to Kootenai County," Spokane County Sheriff Deputy Craig Chamberlin said.

Thieves are going for everything and anything; Chamberlin said they are swiping briefcases, iPods, iPads, purses, wallets and electronics gear. Deputies said the best thing to do is leave valuables at home.

"If you do have to bring those items with you, lock them in your truck, get them out of plain view of the criminal element because if they see that they will victimize you," Chamberlin said.

As Kolbet found out, even hiding your valuables might not work either.

"I had actually taken it and gotten it cleaned and vacuumed it out like two hours earlier there was nothing in the car," he said.

Nothing, that is, except his stashed wallet.

"They spent $100 at a convenience store and $35 at a Mexican restaurant within 45 minutes," Kolbet said.

It only takes a thief a few minutes to walk on by, spot something in your car, do a quick smash and grab and then leave the area, so don't assume that just because there are other cars in the lot that your stuff is going to be safe.

"We try to patrol these areas as much as we possibly can and that's all contingent on call load and what's going on," Chamberlin added.