Trailhead Thieves Busted

Colorado cops arrest crooks who target hikers' empty cars

Colorado's trailheads just got a little safer: Local cops arrested an "identity theft ring" of crooks who targeted hikers at trails in Boulder, Broomfield and Jefferson counties. The alleged criminals would lie in wait until hikers left their vehicles. They would then break in and steal credit cards and any other valuables before the hikers returned.

The band of thieves wasn't your average drug-crazed gang, though. In fact, they spent most of their ill-gotten gains on boring necessities, early Christmas shopping, and adolescent pursuits.

The indictment says the gang stole credit cards from hikers’ cars and used them to buy video games, gift cards, groceries and electronics between July and September 2008.

Honestly, you expect to be taken seriously as a criminal organization, but refuse to drop some large on intense narcotics or serious firepower just so you can pick up some 2 percent milk and the latest incarnation of Halo? Not too tough, I'm afraid.

Still, the apprehension of this band of hiker-harassing hooligans reminds hikers to follow some safety basics. Take your valuables with you on a hike whenever possible, and hide whatever valuables you can't carry in trunks, underneath seats, or somewhere else out of sight. Always let someone know where you are and how long you'll be there, and if you catch crooks in the act and they get threatening, don't panic—learn how to Survive Meeting Menacing Strangers on the Trail.

Play it safe, and you won't have to worry that the money you saved for a new tent might end up going toward Cheetos and a Playstation 3.

—Ted Alvarez

4 arrested in suspected trailhead theft scheme (AP)

Via The Goat