Car burglaries up this year |

Car burglaries up this year

Aaron Osowski , The Park Record

With an uptick in vehicle burglaries the past couple of weeks, the Summit County Sheriff’s Office is hoping to draw residents’ attention to the crime in the hopes of preventing it.

Lieutenant John Lange, the Division Commander of the Investigations division, said vehicle burglaries are "crimes of opportunity" that are nonetheless much more avoidable if basic security measures are taken by drivers. He added that a detective of his recently brought it to his attention that there had been a great number of burglaries the last couple of weeks.

"The key thing is securing your belongings if there are items in the car out and about in plain view, that will obviously grab the attention of an individual to grab those items," Lange said.

Lange noted that the Sheriff’s Office has been doing crime mapping to determine when and where the majority of these vehicle burglaries take place.

"It appears everything is in close proximity to [Interstate 80], which makes us believe it’s probably people that are in transit or coming up from the Salt Lake area," Lange said.

Additionally, he said there are a good number of cases on the Mirror Lake Highway at trailheads and in church parking lots. In a majority of cases, Lange said, suspects are stealing purses from vehicles and using the victim’s credit cards for purchases.

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"[A purse] is the grand prize for a suspect to find a wallet, credit cards, IDs," Lange said.

Addressing the risk of vehicle burglaries at trailheads, Loyal Clark of the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest said those out recreating should lock their vehicles and store any valuables out of sight when parked at a trailhead. Lange reiterated this, saying one should even store valuables in the trunk of the vehicle.

"A lot of people in the Salt Lake valley are getting a little wiser they know Park City is a very trusting, smaller community and are maybe a little less likely to be as diligent as we would be down in a larger area," Lange said.

Although Lange admitted the cuts to the Sheriff’s Office’s budget were a contributing factor to decreased law enforcement presence and the uptick in vehicle burglaries, he said the office has increased its patrol division and is focusing on those areas that have been hardest hit in the past.

"We’re trying to concentrate in those particular areas and becoming more proactive in stopping a vehicle or running [license] plates that maybe don’t belong in an area," Lange said, adding the Patrol Lieutenant has talked about adding supplemental shifts for patrol officer to come out.

Charlie Sturgis of the Mountain Trails Foundation said oftentimes when individuals are parking at a trailhead, they may take their phone but not their wallet. The potential of losing one’s keys on the trail is another worry, he said.

"I don’t like to take my keys [with me] in a situation where losing them would have significant consequences like up in the Uintas," Sturgis said.

Sturgis added that people should record any suspicious activity they with a cell phone camera.

"If you see something that looks a little bit out of sorts, at least snap a photo in case something happens," Sturgis said.

Lange said that vehicle burglaries have been all over the map and thus there has not been a particular time or day they can monitor certain areas. He wants to reach out to the public to ensure they remain vigilant in preventing future vehicle burglaries.