Thieves target cars at rural trailheads

By RAELYNN RICARTE

News staff writer

July 26, 2006

Forty-six car prowls have taken place this year at rural trailheads across Hood River County.

Sheriff Detective Gerry Tiffany said it is unlikely the crimes are all being committed by the same person. He said it is more probable that identity thieves — or methamphetamine addicts — have discovered a new source of wealth.

“Because of our close proximity to Portland they can be using the credit cards before the person even gets back from the hike and finds out he or she has been robbed,” said Tiffany.

He said the latest modus operandi is for the culprit to smash the glass out of a car window and then rummage around inside for something of value. For that reason, Tiffany quoted tht the old saying, “out of sight, out of mind,” doesn’t work to protect your wallet or purse anymore.

“You need to leave your valuables at home and just carry the essentials with you — such as a driver’s license — that can be taken along with you,” he said.

Tiffany said registration papers and insurance cards should also be removed from the glove compartment of a parked car. He said thieves appear to be taking those documents for later use in forgery or fraud crimes.

He said most of the thefts from vehicles left in rustic areas from Eagle Creek to Government Camp are occurring on the weekend. And, many times, the suspect seems to target a vehicle that is parked alone in the lot.

“It appears that, this year, they are just breaking in and going on a fishing expedition to see what’s inside. The only thing you can really do to protect yourself is make sure they don’t have anything to find,” said Tiffany.

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