A slew of arrests involving car break-ins and car thefts have been reported on the NPS Digest over the last several days.
In the first incident reported last Thursday, two men and a women were arrested for breaking into the car of two college students who had parked their car at the Sugarlands Visitor Center for an overnight backpacking trip in September. The thieves were eventually tracked down after using the victims credit cards.
On Friday, NPS Digest reported that a man was arrested for stealing a van at the Mt. Sterling Gap parking area while a group was out on a hike. Detectives from a neighboring county who were serving an arrest warrant on unrelated charges at the residence of the thief the next day, found the van parked in front of the house. Numerous stolen vehicles in varying states of disassembly were found on the property. Investigators determined that he was operating a “chop shop” for stolen vehicles on his property.
Finally, today, NPS Digest reported that two people were arrested for breaking into the car of a Great Smokies employee while she was out hiking. The two thieves took personal property and credit cards that were subsequently used on numerous occasions at local establishments. One of the stolen items was a camera, which the bandits pawned at an area pawn shop. This would be their foil.
The takeaway: always lock your doors, and never leave any valuables in your car while out hiking. If you must leave valuables behind, at least lock them in the trunk. This isn't advice for just the Great Smoky Mountains, but for any hiking location.