Crews expanding popular trail head
Workers were busy expanding the parking lot at Telegraph Pass last week. Some 44 spots will be added, more than doubling the size.

Park rangers are taking an opportunity while the weather is nice and the hiking trails are crowded to remind the public there are simple steps to take to keep your car safe while enjoying the trails.

Each year as the trails get busier there’s a slight uptick in the number of car thefts at trailheads in Phoenix. The numbers haven’t been too high this year and park rangers at South Mountain Park say they’d like to keep it that way.

“We are coming up on a busy season,” said Scott Covey, park ranger at South Mountain Park. “As the holiday season comes around people have more time off work and a lot more people are using our trails. Our trailheads get much busier so we are cautious when we get into those time frames. We ask for help from the public to help themselves not be a victim.”

The most important thing the public can do is keep valuable items out of sight.

“Most people who commit these crimes are opportunists,” Covey said. “If they don’t see any items in plain sight they won’t waste their time trying to break into that vehicle. People typically don’t steal stereos anymore. They target purses or computers right there on the seat.”

It’s best to leave those items at home, Covey said, but if they must be brought to the trails, try to store them in the trunk of a vehicle before reaching the parking lot, just in case someone is watching.

The next step is to lock the vehicle doors and keep keys on your person as you enjoy the trails.

“You never know if someone is watching you so you don’t want to leave your keys on the tire or hide your keys somewhere near your vehicle where someone can just grab them,” Covey said. “Take your keys with you in a safe spot where you won’t lose them on the trail.”

The best time to use the trail is during a busy time, Covey said. When the parking lot is full thieves are less likely to strike. He also recommends hiking while it’s light outside and getting off the trails before dark.

As always, it’s best to hike with a friend.

“It’s not only more enjoyable, but there’s safety in numbers,” Covey said. “If your phone goes dead maybe a friend’s phone will work. It’s very rare to have any crimes against individuals as far as someone robbing someone. We mostly see property crimes and stolen items from vehicles, but it’s always good to have someone else around to help you be aware of your surroundings.”

Covey said most victims are those who are not used to hiking or who don’t go on the trails often and are a little careless when leaving their vehicle. It’s important to think ahead and protect yourself and your vehicle from thieves.

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