Thieves are targeting vehicles parked at the trailheads for Badger Mountain and Candy Mountain in the Tri-Cities.
Wallets and purses with credit cards, cash, and IDs are among the most frequently stolen in the break-ins, said Shyanne Palmus, Benton County’s communications coordinator.
“Windows are being broken to get into cars, but we still urge everyone to make sure their vehicles are locked prior to hiking and to not leave valuables in your car — whether they are in plain sight or not,” said the news release.
In one recent case, a victim received a fraud alert text before reaching the summit of Candy Mountain because a thief had broken into a car and was already trying to use the credit cards in Kennewick by the time the hiker could cover 1 1/2 miles back to the lot.
Benton County officials are discussing possibly increasing security at the popular hiking area lots, but no decisions have been made at this time, she wrote.
“We have received numerous reports this week about break-ins at both Badger (Westgate trailhead, off of Dallas Road) and Candy Mountain, though we know that we are not unique in this — other agencies and trailheads are experiencing similar nefarious activities,” said the release.
The Benton County Sheriff’s Office and the Richland Police Department are investigating various reports.
Stolen items are not often in open view, but are under the front seat, in the glove box or in the center console.
“We believe that in many cases the perpetrators are hanging around the parking lots, stalking their targets,” said the release.
County officials are asking the public to report any suspicious activity at any local trailheads to 911, and to leave valuables at home and make sure to lock your vehicle while hiking.