Have you ever wondered how to keep your vehicle safe while it is parked at a remote trailhead?

Let’s be honest.

We like to think that our local trails are safe, but every year theft and vandalism occur at trailheads.

I can’t even imagine what it would feel like to end a leg-busting hike, to be out of food and water, and to arrive at the trailhead only to find a smashed windshield and slashed tires.

Made even worse if you’re in a remote area with limited or no cell phone reception.

Absolutely nothing would ruin a good day on the trails more than a trailhead break-in.

Here are a few tips to keep your vehicle safe at the trailhead.

Lock your doors.

It’s a no brainer, really, but once I finished a hike to find that my kiddo had left his door completely open at a trailhead. Thankfully it was an empty trailhead, but it could have been super easy for someone to crawl into that door that was open and swinging in the breeze and steal our truck or our post-hike Jelly Belly Sours and either case would have been tragic.

Do your research before you head out. 

Stay informed, check the news, or a good social media news monitoring site to see if there have been any trailhead break-ins near your trailhead. If there have been break-ins, be super cautious when you are planning your adventure. But that doesn’t mean you have to stay home. Often after a trailhead break-in, local law enforcement increases their security and policing of the area.

Clean the clutter.

I’m not talking about dirt and mud on the exterior of the car, because I only wash my car every spring and fall. I’m talking about reducing the amount of clutter inside the car. If a thief looks into a car and can see a bunch of clutter, loose change, lunch, and gear, it’s an invitation to smash open the window with a rock and see what else they can find. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve left my purse sitting on the passenger seat. I need to stop doing that, like today!

Park in a safe place.

Check the ground for broken glass or evidence of vandalism. You can also park your vehicle with the trunk facing the most exposed part of the parking lot. If you pull in and your windshield is hidden by vegetation, it provides perfect concealment for tampering and theft.

Hide items your vehicle before you pull into the trailhead. 

A lot of times we leave extra gear in our car while we are hiking, everything from food to clothing to our purse. If you’re going to be stashing extra gear, think about putting it into your trunk before you reach the trailhead. If you drive an SUV, think about putting extra gear into a plastic tub (locked if necessary). A common tactic for thieves is to sit in trailheads and watch our habits as we enter and exit our cars. They want to know where we are stashing things before we lock our doors and head out on our adventure. Outside Online has a great article about thieves tracking bluetooth items in your vehicles to locate them, this article is worth the read. 

Drive a beater to the trailhead.

If you have a fancy car (this is certainly not me), leave it at home and bring your clunker to the trailhead, assuming that it’s safe to drive it out of town. No thief wants to steal the am radio out of your grandma’s car or your old rusted truck, but they do want to steal your lunch money.

I’m guilty of leaving valuables in plain sight, not locking my doors, and (gasp) driving a car full of clutter. It’s easy to get complacent, especially for those of us who think we live and play in safe places. But there’s nothing like a good reminder here for all of us to do our part to prevent a trailhead break-in. A little bit of common sense and street smarts are a vital part of break-in prevention.

Do you have personal experience with a trailhead break-in? Drop a comment below. I’d love to learn from you. 

What do you do to prevent trailhead break-ins?


5 comments on “How To Keep Your Car Safe At A Trailhead

  1. I have everything ready to go so once l reach trailhead its grab backpack and polesif others are with me try and have the same approach, have equipment ready at meeting spot so when we reach trailhead, its grab and go

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