Trailhead Break-Ins & How To Prevent Them

Many avid hikers and campers are all too familiar with this scenario: you come back from a beautiful trip in the great outdoors and are ready to head home only to find that your car’s window has been smashed. There’s glass everywhere and you think back to when you stashed your wallet in your glovebox and left some extra gear in your trunk. Not such a good idea after all.

Trailhead break-ins are becoming an increasingly common fear among hikers as thieves are getting smarter and more desperate. There are reports of major increases in city vehicle break-ins like from the City of San Leandro which saw a 46% increase in break-ins in 2019 compared to 2018. Trailheads make it even easier for thieves as they’re in less populated areas that aren’t well lit as well as cities.

Online forums are flooded with people sharing their experience of coming back from a trip to find their car was broken into and valuables stolen. Some people were wise to have not left any valuables in their car and only have to pay for the window repairs but others are not so fortunate. In a Mountain Biking forum, user aliikane said “In my robbery, they took stuff that will cost $3,000.00 bucks to replace the stuff stolen from my car… Everyone says you shouldn’t leave stuff in your car, but I practically have to because I am using the stuff in my car virtually every day. It is almost like I live out of my car and my livelihood.” Many are familiar with the new trend of young people choosing to live primarily out of their cars as they travel around the world, these people cannot simply keep valuables out of their car.

Instances like these 2022 break-ins at Poo Poo Point outside Seattle remind us that more than gear is targeted in these thefts. Personal information like addresses and garage door openers are ideal objectives for thieves.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like these vehicle break-ins will slow down any time soon, as though there’s been a decrease in cars being stolen, crooks are instead opting for the smash-and-grab as it’s faster and easier to get away with. The Mountain Biking forum, started in July of 2018, is still getting comments from people who have faced similar situations, want to spread awareness, and are wondering what they can do to prevent further break-ins from happening at their favorite local trailheads.

The good news is that there are several things you can do to prevent having your vehicle broken into, here are a few of the most common tips:

  • Disregard added weight and take your wallet/keys with you and keep the glove box open
  • Don’t leave anything you wouldn’t want stolen in your vehicle
  • Leave your door unlocked so if there is a break-in, you won’t be left paying for a broken window
  • Don’t think your trunk is a safe space to keep valuables while away
  • Arrange to have someone give you a ride
  • Install a TruckVault in-vehicle secure storage system to act as a safe for your gear

Many people think if they just put stuff in their trunk where thieves can’t see it, they won’t try to steal their belongings. Unfortunately, your vehicle’s trunk is not always a good place to leave extra gear behind either, especially for multi-day trips. After a quick smash of your window, thieves have easy access to the button that opens your trunk. It’s also known that they watch as people pack up their stuff before heading out on a hike and they can see what gets put in the trunk. A forum user with the username fgiraffe said, “I lost all my bike gear a few summer ago the one time I left my bag in the trunk overnight.” It’s not enough to throw some stuff in the trunk and hope for the best, and it’s definitely not worth waiting until it happens to you before you take action.

This is where the TruckVault in-vehicle secure storage system comes in. It’s a highly secured drawer system used by law enforcement agencies around the world to help keep their firearms out of the wrong hands and used by overlanding/camping gurus to help keep their gear safe when they’re not around. Whether you live out of your car or just love going camping but need to keep some essential gear in your car that you can’t pack with you, installing a TruckVault storage system will ensure that your valuables are right there where you left them when you come back. When Louis Cahill had his own break-in experience, he said “You would think that with the ever-present threat of robbery, I would have better sense than to leave thousands of dollars worth of fly fishing rods and reels, and various photo gear in my truck. You’d be wrong.” Cahill keeps his gear locked up in a TruckVault® storage system and when his entire street’s vehicles got broken into, his gear was safe and sound.

Photo from Louis Cahill's blog "Don't Get Ripped Off!" click on the image to read his story.

At the end of the day, you deserve to have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that while your car was left at the trailhead for a couple days, your gear was left untouched because it’s secured in a TruckVault storage system. What are your valuables worth to you?

Update 7/16/20, 1 month after posting: My car got broken into at a trailhead yesterday... Nothing stolen as I didn't leave anything of worth in there but dang, the "it'll never happen to me" mindset is risky!