PDA

View Full Version : New Hampshire Break-Ins



rocket21
06-05-2007, 01:29 PM
As per the Lafayette thread, the plan is to compile data on break-ins at NH trailhead parking lots. When I get a few more submissions, I'll put together a spreadsheet and/or some charts and host them on my web space (no names posted with the data).


Location
Date (D-M-Y) (no more than 5 years ago)
Hours Parked (ie 6am-2pm)
Type of car (make, 1-3 yrs, 4-8 yrs, older)
Anti Theft Device (Y/N)
Type of Break In (Smash window, crow-bar door, cut through soft top, other)
Item(s) Stolen (Cash only / loose items / parts of car (stereo) / nothing)

Any suggestions are welcome.

Here's a submission form I built with the above items:

NH Trailhead Break-In Submit (http://www.franklinsites.com/hikebreakins/index.php)

jjo
06-05-2007, 01:36 PM
Thanks for your effort!!!

Bobby
06-05-2007, 01:44 PM
It's also important to report the break-in to the state/local police - the more reports of incidents in specific areas may force them to concentrate patrols in those areas.

rocket21
06-05-2007, 01:46 PM
It's also important to report the break-in to the state/local police - the more reports of incidents in specific areas may force them to concentrate patrols in those areas.
Definitely (as well as it's critical for insurance claims).

Peakbagr
06-05-2007, 04:42 PM
Rocket,

I've been asked about this. Is the purpose of your gathering the information so that you'll have it in one place and have accumulated numbers in order to influence the authorities to increase their efforts to catch the perps?

David Metsky
06-05-2007, 04:50 PM
Assuming people report it already, the cops know this. They certainly are aware of the problem trailheads. My guess would be that you are gathering info to keep us informed of which are the dangerous parking lots, right? If so, I think this is more detail then is needed for this purpose.

How is knowing this additional info going to help the hiking community?

rocket21
06-05-2007, 05:08 PM
I'm interested in the trends we might be able to find from this...I'm not expecting the data to in some way take law into our own hands etc...however, if we're able to find a trend, it might be worthwhile to show concern in bulk to hopefully get more attention paid toward what seems to be an increasingly troublesome problem NH.

While the police are excellent at what they do, they don't always have the time or resources to focus on relatively minor problems. The last time I did a project like this, we were able to find a few trends which led to better awareness for potential victims as well as busting the ring.

dentonfabrics
06-06-2007, 06:37 AM
I'm interested in the trends we might be able to find from this...I'm not expecting the data to in some way take law into our own hands etc...however, if we're able to find a trend, it might be worthwhile to show concern in bulk to hopefully get more attention paid toward what seems to be an increasingly troublesome problem NH.

While the police are excellent at what they do, they don't always have the time or resources to focus on relatively minor problems. The last time I did a project like this, we were able to find a few trends which led to better awareness for potential victims as well as busting the ring.


Positively Rocket, you go for it. Any information is a good thing. I'm headed out now for 2 days in the Caribou Range (unknown area for me) and would love to have some info on trailhead breakins in that area. I just hope I can keep my truck off your list.

bikehikeskifish
06-06-2007, 07:04 AM
"The squeaky wheel get the grease"
"United we stand, divided we fall!"
If we can show a respectful, united front to the police, along with a wonderful spread sheet, etc we just might get their attention and their help.
Unfortunately, these are considered petty crimes and they might be "petty" to the law but they certainly are not "petty" to us.

Ah, but they are petty to us (the big us). None of us (the big us) would be at all happy with the increase in our taxes necessary to pursue, prevent, or prosecute every little petty crime. It's much cheaper, albeit inconvenient when it happens to us (you and me), to have insurance, and file a claim when you have a loss.

I have a feeling the police will always have 10, maybe 20 times the information we have. If you're trying to establish a pattern, you're probably better off browsing the police blotters and gathering your data from there, rather than relying on internet board postings.

Tim

--M.
06-06-2007, 09:56 AM
As a consumer of this board's information (among other things), I would certainly find it helpful to know that, for example, there are lots of break-ins at 19-Mile Brook, while there are almost none at Pinkham Notch.

Even if rocket21 were NOT trained in presenting statistics, the info would still be of value. And maybe he is!

Thanks, rocket21, and (as Emilio Lizardo would say) more power to you.

--M.

bikehikeskifish
06-06-2007, 10:58 AM
To be clear -- I want this to be successful. The caution is in the "Oh, rocket21 is not posting break-ins, therefore none are happening (or, none at trail head XXX)". The information we seek should be publicly available already from the police. To not take advantage of all available data is to not paint a complete picture.

You also have to weigh the cost of what you leave in your car, versus the deductible of your insurance policy and the impact filing a claim has. Is it cheaper for you in the long run to leave your doors unlocked, thus denying yourself a claim? If you have a $500 deductible, and a $100 item is stolen from an unlocked car, it's cheaper than fixing the car and losing the item anyway - typically those fall into two claims anyway - damage to the car covered by auto comprehensive and loss of property covered by homeowners -- with two deductibles, you likely will get nothing from the insurance company.

What will be interesting to me is whether or not stuff was in plain sight when a car was broken into. I suspect that most people put stuff out of sight (trunk) and I suspect that some thieves know this. Still they don't bother because they don't know what they will find.

So, lock it, and hide stuff in the trunk, or leave it unlocked and empty of valuables, and I'd guess you'll get left alone.

I would also ask the state police about the value of photographic evidence of thieves, before staking out the lot for the day. I've heard that given the advances in digital photography and photoshop, it's no longer useful as evidence. So be prepared to testify as well, perhaps.

In summary, I admire and support the efforts to thwart the thieves, but don't want anyone to get hurt, or burned by the data collected.

Tim

rocket21
06-06-2007, 11:29 AM
Help folks! Between here and another forum, I only have one submission so far

David Metsky
06-06-2007, 11:32 AM
I would certainly find it helpful to know that, for example, there are lots of break-ins at 19-Mile Brook, while there are almost none at Pinkham Notch.
I can tell you that right now, without gathering any statistics. :)

If you read the past threads you'll find that it's very cyclical, with some spots being hit repeatedly for a period and then being left alone. Different gangs hit the lots, then they get caught and/or move on. It's usually locals and the cops have a good idea of who they are.

-dave-

sli74
06-06-2007, 12:37 PM
Help folks! Between here and another forum, I only have one submission so far

Though I think your idea is great and your enthusiasm admirable and I look forward to the results . . . your above statement is the hole I see in this "project". VFTT, though it is "home" to so many of us, and the rest of the online hiking world is but a small part of the larger hiking community. So, you are polling only a TINY percentage of hikers and so those with break-in experiences will be also therefore a TINY percentage of all those experiencing the thefts.

I second the suggestion to try and contact the local police and trying to get someone to give you the more abundant information you are seeking.

Good Luck, I do think it is a great idea . . . I just don't think you will get the volume of data needed for a thorough analysis on online boards. Just my 2 cents.

sli74

rocket21
06-06-2007, 12:44 PM
If I get some time, I may do some datamining from conditions/trip reports and start populating that way. It would take way too much time to get police reports (going after each town with trailheads, as well as state police) to make it worthwhile.

DougPaul
06-06-2007, 01:23 PM
Even if rocket21 were NOT trained in presenting statistics, the info would still be of value.
Not necessarily. Poor data yields poor statistics which can lead to poor conclusions.

This is not a criticism of rocket21 in any way. The data that we can collect from web reports is likely to be much smaller and poorer than the data available to the police. It is also likely to be biased.

Doug
Who is not a statistician, but does know something about data and statistics.

rocket21
06-06-2007, 02:22 PM
Not necessarily. Poor data yields poor statistics which can lead to poor conclusions.

This is not a criticism of rocket21 in any way. The data that we can collect from web reports is likely to be much smaller and poorer than the data available to the police. It is also likely to be biased.

Doug
Who is not a statistician, but does know something about data and statistics.

Correct, this is by no means scientific. I would by no means do quarterly sales forecast off data like this. Nonetheless, there are already a few submissions since my last posting (I updated the first post in this thread with a web form link)...compiled data is more useful than nothing at all.

marchowes
06-06-2007, 02:39 PM
It would take way too much time to get police reports (going after each town with trailheads, as well as state police) to make it worthwhile.

This is probably the only way you WILL get enough data to make this worthwhile. A quick search of the forum for "theft" or "vandalism" or "break in" etc yield only at most 6 or 7 results and not all of those are in the Whites. A sample set that small for a national forest that big is as DougPaul said, a good way to draw poor conclusions (or no conclusions at all). VFTT, and even all the hiking communities online are such a small piece of the pie. Data needs to be explored from other sources if this is to yield useful information.

People wondering what trail heads have been troublesome in the past would do well to read this thread: http://vftt.org/forums/showthread.php?t=7150&highlight=theft

Bobby
06-06-2007, 04:54 PM
Assuming people report it already, the cops know this. They certainly are aware of the problem trailheads.

Agreed, but a percentage of people don't report car breaks. The items stolen aren't valuable, or belief (probably correct) that the property won't be recovered, and most insurance policies cover glass replacement.


While the police are excellent at what they do, they don't always have the time or resources to focus on relatively minor problems.

In the areas we're discussing, I would think it's a resource problem. We don't see many police cars because the police departments are small, with maybe one or two officers on patrol at any time.


It would take way too much time to get police reports (going after each town with trailheads, as well as state police) to make it worthwhile.

I if you call the local police department, they will give you the information we need. Police reports are public record, as are crime statistics.

We can't stop the break-ins, but individually we can take steps to lower the chances of being victimized. Leave your ashtray open, many people keep change there. Leave valuables at home, or stash them in the trunk before getting to the trailhead.

Good luck with this Rocket, if I can help, let me know.

rocket21
06-06-2007, 05:23 PM
Good luck with this Rocket, if I can help, let me know.

Thank you...if its determined that we're not getting enough data off the net, maybe a group effort will be necessary to get police logs...one issue with this though is that they don't always contain enough of the necessary information to try to find trends. In previous experience, I used customized reports to make sure we were getting better optics vs. more of a standardized police report.

Another possible project might be to compile tips - there have been some interesting techniques in recent posts, such as leaving notes, leaving ashtrays open, etc.

Dugan
06-06-2007, 05:26 PM
This is probably the only way you WILL get enough data to make this worthwhile

Agreed. The data set you've suggested is not nearly comprehensive enough. Gathering information from on line hiking boards will not capture a significant portion of the affected population. In addition, it is skewed in that it doesn't capture total parking statistics, i.e. unaffected cars.

I think that, if you're going to go ahead with this, the time you plan to spend data mining would be better spent gathering the police statistics.


Poor data yields poor statistics which can lead to poor conclusions.

In other words, there are lies, damn lies, and statistics!

Incomplete stats are worse than useless in that they cannot be used to reliably demonstrate a conclusion. The results would, at best, be an educated guess, which is no improvement over the status quo.

--M.
06-06-2007, 05:46 PM
Okay, fine, but until you have oysters for pearls, make lemonade from the lemons. Anecdotal evidence hepped me to 19-Mile Brook & Pinkham Notch. Knowing that a given area is generally more or less prone than another may help sway a decision while real stats are still being gathered. Decisions are made on such limited resources all the time; if that's all we have to go on, it's a start.

rocket21
06-06-2007, 06:57 PM
With limited submissions so far, here are a few trends:
- Sunday was the most common day in which a break in may have happened.
- There is a 50/50 split between day trip break-ins and overnighter break-ins.
- 50% of the break-ins involved theft of money or credit cards.
- So far, none of the break-in victims had an anti-theft device.

MichaelJ
06-06-2007, 07:25 PM
- 50% of the break-ins involved theft of money or credit cards.

Sigh. Even knowing full well these victims are on this board, I will still criticize the 50% who left such items in their cars. As long as thieves feel they will get a positive return on their investment, they're going to keep trying. Give them a few weekend break-in sprees of getting nothing, and they're going to start hesitating to take the risk for no reward.

My motto is to take it in the pack or leave it at home, for everyone's benefit.

David Metsky
06-06-2007, 07:59 PM
With limited submissions so far, here are a few trends:
- Sunday was the most common day in which a break in may have happened.
- There is a 50/50 split between day trip break-ins and overnighter break-ins.
- 50% of the break-ins involved theft of money or credit cards.
- So far, none of the break-in victims had an anti-theft device.
Without knowing how many people in total park at trailheads on weekends vs weekdays, go on overnights vs daytrips, leave money in their cars, or have anti-theft devices it's hard to draw an conclusions. You don't know the sample set, how many break-ins total have been reported, so you don't know if your sample size is enough to be meaningful

I've been parking at trail heads in the Whites probably 25 times a year for the past 25 years, and I've never had a break-in. You don't have trends yet, you have anecdotes. :)

rocket21
06-06-2007, 10:59 PM
Sigh. Even knowing full well these victims are on this board, I will still criticize the 50% who left such items in their cars.

I should clarify that one of these instances, we're talking loose change and tokens...its amazing what people will break in for.

Grumpy
06-07-2007, 06:32 AM
Sigh. Even knowing full well these victims are on this board, I will still criticize the 50% who left such items in their cars. As long as thieves feel they will get a positive return on their investment, they're going to keep trying. Give them a few weekend break-in sprees of getting nothing, and they're going to start hesitating to take the risk for no reward.

My motto is to take it in the pack or leave it at home, for everyone's benefit.

Splendid comment, if you are driving directly to the trailhead from home, and returning directly back to home.

Thing is, not all of us can operate that way.

Mrs. Grumpy and I, for decades, have traveled a day or days from home and set up multi-day bases at public campgrounds, from which we drive out to area trailheads and do day hikes. Hiking is not our sole activity on these excursions, and so we have "other" paraphernalia -- like photo gear -- along with us. Being tent or leanto campers, the only place we have to lock up such "valuables" is our vehicle. Not very comforting, frankly, but it's our only practical choice, other than staying home. We recognize the risk and take what precautions we can.

I suspect the real solution to trailhead vehicle break-ins is stepped up police patrolling and surveillance. But that is costly, and in an era of tight budgets, expecting it to happen probably is unrealistic.

G.

Pete_Hickey
06-07-2007, 07:10 AM
I should clarify that one of these instances, we're talking loose change and tokens...its amazing what people will break in for.Oh, I suspect they don't break in for the loose change. They do it because they THINK there is something worthwhile there, when they find there isn't, they take what they can.

I say that because my car was recently broken into (at a university conference, not at a trailhead) I suspect they did it, because they thought the sleeping bag thrown across the back seat was hiding something. They didn't find anything there, and went to the trunk and took things they didn'T see. Note that my Axe was on the back seat, but they didn't take that.

Dugan
06-07-2007, 07:35 AM
Without knowing how many people in total park at trailheads on weekends vs weekdays, go on overnights vs daytrips, leave money in their cars, or have anti-theft devices it's hard to draw an conclusions. You don't know the sample set, how many break-ins total have been reported, so you don't know if your sample size is enough to be meaningful

Exactly what I meant earlier. The data set is too small, the sample is not representative. This is anecdotal evidence only, which is a long way from showing approximate probabilities.

How many cars were parked? What percentage of the parked cars were broken into? Did you capture the bulk of break-ins? Where in the area were the "safe" cars? Does make/model/year play a role? Color? Stickers? License plate local?

I suspect your anecdotes are too heavily weighted to Sundays. If you've left your car overnight and return Sunday, it's just as likely the break in occurred Saturday as Sunday.

I appreciate the effort you're trying to make to keep us all safer. However, I think it is far too simplistic and limited to be meaningful.


As long as thieves feel they will get a positive return on their investment, they're going to keep trying. Give them a few weekend break-in sprees of getting nothing, and they're going to start hesitating to take the risk for no reward.

There you go. Positive and negative reinforcers modifying human behavior, demonstrated in real life.

rocket21
06-07-2007, 07:49 AM
It's not perfect, nor will it ever be. Even if I had time to look into police reports, etc., that doesn't mean those are accurate either - there is actually a measurable amount of fraud in reporting damaged or stolen property. Nothing short of posting up at every trailhead parking lot at the same time will return nearly perfect results.

Nonetheless, compiling the data this way can only help. The second part of this project I'm considering pursuing is to compile strategies that others take to prevent theft. If this data prevents so much as one break-in, I'd say its worthwhile.

DougPaul
06-07-2007, 09:09 AM
It's not perfect, nor will it ever be. Even if I had time to look into police reports, etc., that doesn't mean those are accurate either - there is actually a measurable amount of fraud in reporting damaged or stolen property.

Perfect data is, pragmatically, not available. The best data would most likely be that held by and possibly available from the police. Insurance companies also collect and analyze this kind of data. Self-reported data (eg to websites) is notoriously inaccurate.

The information most useful to one who would like to park his car somewhere is the probability that the car will be broken into. Factors such as location, time of day, day of the week, vehicle type, various anti-theft strategies, etc might be explored if one had adequate unbiased data.

Also, for the theft data to be useful, one would also need data on how heavily the parking lots are used on what days. (For instance, the theft data will likely show far more theft on weekends than on weekdays, if only because there are a lot more cars in the parking lots on weekends. However, a weekend could still be safer because the probability of an individual car being broken into might still be lower.)

There are lots of pitfalls in collecting and analyzing these data. No offence to anyone attemting to do so, but unless you know enough about statistics, you will almost certainly make errors which will make the conclusions wrong or unreliable.

Doug

rocket21
06-07-2007, 10:35 AM
Perfect data is, pragmatically, not available. The best data would most likely be that held by and possibly available from the police. Insurance companies also collect and analyze this kind of data. Self-reported data (eg to websites) is notoriously inaccurate.

The information most useful to one who would like to park his car somewhere is the probability that the car will be broken into. Factors such as location, time of day, day of the week, vehicle type, various anti-theft strategies, etc might be explored if one had adequate unbiased data.

Also, for the theft data to be useful, one would also need data on how heavily the parking lots are used on what days. (For instance, the theft data will likely show far more theft on weekends than on weekdays, if only because there are a lot more cars in the parking lots on weekends. However, a weekend could still be safer because the probability of an individual car being broken into might still be lower.)

There are lots of pitfalls in collecting and analyzing these data. No offence to anyone attemting to do so, but unless you know enough about statistics, you will almost certainly make errors which will make the conclusions wrong or unreliable.

Doug

I think there is some confusion...I'm not concerned with probabilities or parking lot usage...if this were for a college research project or even a government grant, I would never consider basing it on the data I'm collecting right now.

I'm not necessarily sure about bias...it's not a political survey or something nor do I think there will be attempts to pollute the data to achieve desired results. While it's certainly not a full analysis of all hikers, the nature of it being confined to internet forum users for the most part doesn't make it irrelevant - after all, we all belong to that particular group...if anything, it could be more relevant toward the audience.

Maybe the results will be useful, maybe not. It never hurts to have more data to base personal decisions off.

albee
06-07-2007, 10:51 AM
There are lots of pitfalls in collecting and analyzing these data. No offence to anyone attemting to do so, but unless you know enough about statistics, you will almost certainly make errors which will make the conclusions wrong or unreliable.

Doug, I don't think anyone's going to be basing a Thesis on this project. Collecting and disseminating at least some information, however accurate or inaccurate, would be useful for the general hiking community. It's not like I'm going to feel free to leave my keys in the ignition at Lincoln Woods because the data shows that nobody got broken into there. People should look at these findings objectively and take what they will from them.

As far as I know, we as hikers have never seen any kind of semi-organized study as to what trailheads see vandalism. Bringing any kind of information to light can only help to educate people. Anyone arguing that this is a pointless, inaccurate, or unhelpful exercise is either misunderstanding the point or arguing just for argument's sake. If some of us look at the data and learn something about how to avoid a break-in or which trailheads seem to be more risky, then I feel this project will be a success. Maybe it won't catch anyone or reduce the breakins-per-vehicle-per-day, but IMO raising awareness of the problem can't hurt.

DougPaul
06-07-2007, 11:37 AM
Albee and rocket21:

My concern is that someone will put (potentially a lot of) effort into such a study and if it is not properly done, it will mislead people.

Many of the statistical issues are not difficult, but appropriate knowledge is necessary to be able to interpret the data accurately. IMO, bad data or misinterpreted data is worse than none at all.

Doug

Rob S
06-07-2007, 11:47 AM
Sigh. Even knowing full well these victims are on this board, I will still criticize the 50% who left such items in their cars. As long as thieves feel they will get a positive return on their investment, they're going to keep trying. Give them a few weekend break-in sprees of getting nothing, and they're going to start hesitating to take the risk for no reward.

My motto is to take it in the pack or leave it at home, for everyone's benefit.
Well stated, I agree 100%



Splendid comment, if you are driving directly to the trailhead from home, and returning directly back to home.

Thing is, not all of us can operate that way.

Mrs. Grumpy and I, for decades, have traveled a day or days from home and set up multi-day bases at public campgrounds, from which we drive out to area trailheads and do day hikes. Hiking is not our sole activity on these excursions, and so we have "other" paraphernalia -- like photo gear -- along with us. Being tent or leanto campers, the only place we have to lock up such "valuables" is our vehicle. Not very comforting, frankly, but it's our only practical choice, other than staying home. We recognize the risk and take what precautions we can.

I suspect the real solution to trailhead vehicle break-ins is stepped up police patrolling and surveillance. But that is costly, and in an era of tight budgets, expecting it to happen probably is unrealistic.
Agreed. In the situation you describe, you have no choice but to leave valuables in the car, regardless of whether they are carefully hidden or not. But I don't think that your scenario is a common attribute among the reported break-ins, .... maybe I'm wrong.



The second part of this project I'm considering pursuing is to compile strategies that others take to prevent theft. If this data prevents so much as one break-in, I'd say its worthwhile.

Good idea. On the original thread, I posted about the Dr Wu strategy of discouraging thefts. It may seem funny, but I think it's a good idea ...... I now purposely keep a lot of crap (empty soda cans, wrappers, etc) on the floors of my XTerra, and it's usually filthy dirty on the outside just from the drive to the trailhead. And I never leave anything of value inside. Although I've never been broken into, I realize this is not statistical evidence, I probably have just been lucky. But anything to increase the odds that a would-be thief passes by my vehicle for a more appealing target is worthwhile to try, IMO.

rocket21
06-07-2007, 12:41 PM
Albee and rocket21:

My concern is that someone will put (potentially a lot of) effort into such a study and if it is not properly done, it will mislead people.


Agreed...the last thing I want this to do is to make people think that, for instance, having an anti-theft device ensures they won't have any problems. I'm confident that with the nature of the study, such conclusions won't be drawn (if someone does conclude that having a car alarm will prevent break ins in the middle nowhere, then they probably have larger problems!).

At this point, I'm actually more interested in techniques people use to avoid break-ins...my time is a bit limited though, so one thing at a time.

Dugan
06-07-2007, 01:14 PM
Albee and rocket21:

My concern is that someone will put (potentially a lot of) effort into such a study and if it is not properly done, it will mislead people.

Many of the statistical issues are not difficult, but appropriate knowledge is necessary to be able to interpret the data accurately. IMO, bad data or misinterpreted data is worse than none at all.

Doug

Exactly what I'm trying to say.

For example:
5 cars were broken into at Lincoln Woods, as reported by people aware of and reporting to this project.

This tells us nothing other than, assuming the reports are accurate, that 5 cars were broken into. How many cars were there? How many others were broken into? There's a big difference between 5 of 5 and 5 of 100.

This is no different than the information available to us now: some vehicles were broken into at such-and-such location.

albee
06-07-2007, 01:55 PM
Many of the statistical issues are not difficult, but appropriate knowledge is necessary to be able to interpret the data accurately. IMO, bad data or misinterpreted data is worse than none at all.

I don't quite understand... Are you both advocating that it would be better if we all remained ignorant of this situation? These threads would not be getting thousands of page views if this wasn't an issue that people are concerned about. Are you arguing that it isn't a "statistic" unless you can get a representative sample of the population? You would be correct but your argument wouldn't be beneficial to our hiking community.

Could you please provide one example of how this data would be misinterpreted?

Will this study understate the number of break-ins? Absolutely. Will it provide fail-safe guidelines for when and where to park in the Whites? Absolutely not. I would argue that at worst this results in anecdotal evidence, and putting a simple disclaimer on the results would suffice... such as *These are the results of an unofficial study on trailhead vandalism in the White Mountains, break-ins could potentially occur at any trailhead regardless of whether valuables are visible or not.

Disclaimer: I am not involved in this study at all, but I support Rocket21's right to independently collect data for whatever he wishes to do with it.

Here's an example: The owner of the only car that has ever been vandalized at the AT trailhead in Grafton Notch responds to this survey. The 13 people who's cars got broken into at Greeley Ponds trailhead last weekend don't respond. Are people hiking from either location more or less likely to be concerned about their vehicles? Will the incomplete data adversely affect either group of people? Doubtful, but it doesn't hurt to know, now, does it?

rocket21
06-07-2007, 02:09 PM
This is no different than the information available to us now: some vehicles were broken into at such-and-such location.

It's all about trends...if we see that a lot of break ins submitted were at one parking lot, it might be enough to say "hey, let's be careful here" or "hey, maybe we should try a different trail." Or, if we're seeing that a lot of thefts are involving taking exterior pieces off a car, it might be enough to say "I'm not taking my Jeep with the nice rims this weekend" Who knows. But compiled data can be more useful than just scattered anecdotes. Right now as it stands, I only have about half a dozen submissions so far, so it's hard to say much of anything. The form's been up for just over a day, so maybe there will be a few more added in the coming days. Who knows.

marchowes
06-07-2007, 02:14 PM
These threads would not be getting thousands of page views if this wasn't an issue that people are concerned about.

I think this one is getting big hits because people are biccering and.. well by gosh -- on topic or off it just makes for entertaining reading material :)

That and this topic is posted on hike-nh and alpinezone and isn't getting any more attention than anything else...

dvbl
06-07-2007, 02:54 PM
Most people probably have seen some or all of these things, but it doesn't hurt to repeat them. Not perfect by any means, nothing is, just a simple list of various things I sometimes do. If nothing else it at least makes me feel like I've done what I can to prevent my car from being broken into at a trailhead. Some of these things are not possible or practical in all cases. Again, it's just a list. Take a few, leave a few.

--Leave glove compartment empty and open.
--Leave center console empty and open.
--Leave front seats and back seats and floors totally bare. A jacket or blanket on the back seat looks like it's hiding something, even if it isn't.
--Don't make it obvious about stashing stuff into your trunk at the trailhead; do that at your last stop before the trailhead.
--Park with the trunk facing the middle of the lot or wherever there is the most "eyeball traffic".
--Upon arriving at the trailhead, walk around the lot and look at the cars and the plates. If you see someone just sitting in a car, make it obvious you're looking at all the cars and the plates. This can be uncomfortable for some people to do. Your call.
--Take a few pictures of the parking lot. Once again, some folks might be squeamish about doing this. Your call.
--If it's a self-pay lot, and you're doing an over-nighter, well that stinks, because now you have a ticket stub on your windshield with the chads punched out (sorry, Mr. Gore) showing what day you'll return to your car. This is when it's nice to have an annual parking pass. Or maybe call the local ranger station and tell them you're parking over-night and you've payed, but you don't want to display your ticket stub because of the break-in reason.
--Place a sign on the front seat of your car with the following phrase: "PLEASE SMILE FOR THE CAMERA."

Criminals, like other lower forms of animal life, are not driven by complex thought patterns. They take when the taking is easy. The goal isn't to stop them, that's pie-in-the-sky dreaming, and will never happen. The goal is to not make it so easy for them. If breaking into cars at Lafayette and other WMNF trailheads stops being profitable, the break-ins will decrease. They'll never stop, but they'll decrease.

rocket21
06-07-2007, 03:01 PM
Most people probably have seen some or all of these things, but it doesn't hurt to repeat them.

Do you mind if I include some of these if/when I do a phase two of this 'project'?



If breaking into cars at Lafayette and other WMNF trailheads stops being profitable, the break-ins will decrease. They'll never stop, but they'll decrease.
Sounds like an economics lesson!

David Metsky
06-07-2007, 03:12 PM
It's all about trends...if we see that a lot of break ins submitted were at one parking lot, it might be enough to say "hey, let's be careful here" or "hey, maybe we should try a different trail."
I think the point is that collecting data from such a limited and biased (not politically, but self-selecting data is always biased) source could leave you to believe that trends exist where there are none. Since the number of people who post here is so much lower then the number of people who hike in the Whites, and I think we are probably not "average" hikers, you don't have enough data to predict trends.

Suppose someone reports a break in at trail head A, which gets a lot of traffic. With limited numbers of reports, and no data on usage, you might end up concluding that it is an unsafe trail head. Full data would show that in fact it's safer then seldom-used trail head B, but because the overall numbers are much lower you wouldn't expect to get any reports from there. People may park at B when it's safer to park at A. Without usage numbers the number of break ins per parking lot is of limited use.

I'm not against the project of collecting the data, although I think you'd get much more interesting, useful, and complete data from the police. I'm leery of projecting any trends or lessons learned without good methodology. This isn't a study, it's data collection. A study involves much more work up front before collecting data.

I'm not trying to rain on your parade, but I think showing the raw data rather then conclusions would be more useful at this point.

Stan
06-07-2007, 03:13 PM
I think rocket21 should be commended for the efforts. How useful it will be to any of us or to assist police remains to be seen but one thing for sure, without this commitment there is absolutley no chance it will be of value. I would hope the naysayers would offer constructive advice rather than criticism. Certainly, there is a need to support the "authorities" in battling this problem.

My concern is that VFTT members represent a very small portion of the victims at these parking areas so the ability to spot trends accurately and quickly may be limited. If someone with access to police records (these are public records) could help fill in the blanks, that could be even more useful.

And, a word of caution to those who think that police have all the resources, time and ability to conduct an analysis of patterns, that is quite a leap of faith. It would be wise, however, to communicate with police about what has been learned and what would be helpful to them.

Other than that, my only question is, where does the vigilante committee sign up? :eek: :D

David Metsky
06-07-2007, 03:16 PM
Other than that, my only question is, where does the vigilante committee sign up? :eek: :D
I know you were joking, but please keep any vigilante or revenge ideas off this board.

-Chicken Boy-

sli74
06-07-2007, 04:08 PM
Seriously, the man (rocket21) is just trying to collect some data . . . why are so many getting their undies in a bunch? The internet is FULL, FULL of all kinds of information most of which is biased, incomplete, untrue, blah, blah, blah. The man isn't trying to force a single view or a finalized thesis, he is merely interested in seeing if any trends exist, his methods may be right or wrong, his conclusions could be on point of completely off . . .

I am most amused by how seriously we all take ourselves. It is a fun, interesting project, let him enjoy himself. If he chooses to spend a bunch of his time, why is that such a problem?

In any case, rocket21 . . . I am looking forward to hearing about what you find . . . and I agree with Metsky that the raw data might be most useful at this point. Anyway, just my 2 cents . . . let's go hiking. :D

sli74

Mike P.
06-07-2007, 04:38 PM
How much does a credit card weigh? Why leave these in the car? How much does 6-10 bills weigh? I find it hard to believe we are dealing with an organized well thought out crime (no not the mob) ring that is supporting their lifestyle through making money on trailhead crime.

Were you all angels growing up? Dayhikers being vandalized, I'd question what time they started & ended, I suspect they are at the less frequented trail heads if they are arriving & returning during daylight. 19 Mile gets some reports because cars are very accessible & a fast getaway is at hand (& likely the little %^&^# live close by) Garfield & Gale River have a little more remoteness but even with two ways to escape, they are pretty close to one another.

Plenty of times cars are vandalized & nothing is taken, it's just kids being delinquints.

I highly doubt these "criminals" are going to start waiting up the trail for people if breaking car windows becomes boring & unprofitable, it's not really about profit, it's about kicks after a few beers. That comes with a risk/reward ratio & in a day & age with cell phones if a 2-4 teens without packs were hanging around 100 yards up a trail with no gear hiding in the bushes, someone would call the police. The first possible victims they might encounter might be 4-8 guys in their 20's or 30's who'd kick their butts, their two SUV's on the other hand won't fight back at 2:30 AM

Some trailhead are so remote even a car alarm wouldn't make much difference at night.

Do we have any repeat victims?

Insurance fraud while possible is likely remote with this group, I can't think of many hikers I've met who would break their own window (the company is going to expect a glass claim & may inspect the area the loss occurred so finding no glass there won't be very good) & borrow a friends receipt to Best Buy (where their friend paid cash unless you want to explain your friends receipt) to get some new stuff.

Good luck
Sincerely, someone not in insurance who was always an angel.... :rolleyes: ;)

DougPaul
06-07-2007, 04:45 PM
I find it hard to believe we are dealing with an organized well thought out crime (no not the mob) ring that is supporting their lifestyle through making money on trailhead crime.

Plenty of times cars are vandalized & nothing is taken, it's just kids being delinquints.
My guess is delinquints and druggies are the major offenders. A car at a trailhead is often a rather easy and low risk target.

Doug

rocket21
06-07-2007, 04:47 PM
How much does a credit card weigh? Why leave these in the car? How much does 6-10 bills weigh?


I think the thinking is sometimes "I'm not going to take the risk of dropping this on the trail" or "I don't wan't to fall into the brook with this in my pocket." Doesn't make it the right judgement, but that's just my guess.




Insurance fraud while possible is likely remote with this group, I can't think of many hikers I've met who would break their own window (the company is going to expect a glass claim & may inspect the area the loss occurred so finding no glass there won't be very good)
I agree that insurance fraud is very unlikely in this group. The reason I brought this up, in more of a general sense, relates to what I've seen in the ski industry...sometimes someone breaks a very nice ski...and it coincidently goes 'stolen.'

Mike P.
06-07-2007, 09:10 PM
Car keys, especially with the newer remotes falling in a brook would be worse yet, we don't leave the keys in the car & they weigh more.

Wallet (with credit cards) & keys in a zip-lock someplace you don't go in & out of, like a zippered pocket in shorts or a compartment in your pack lid (for those with top loaders)

Things on your person, say a Digital camera easier, you own it & brake it, you have receipt, you just have to lose the camera & should lose the memory card or just remember you need a new one too.

Dr. Dasypodidae
06-07-2007, 09:37 PM
I agree with David Metsky, as I have been parking at White Mountain trailheads for over four decades, so say probably over 500 separate parking events, and have never suffered a break-in. So, when that first break-in occurs, I do not think that the location will mean much.

I am copying an earlier posting that I made to the original thead in case anyone missed it.

A few years ago, I began leaving notes on the front dash and the back window shelf stating "No cash or credit cards in car or trunk," and have not had a break-in since (knock on wood). However, if there had been a break-in, the perps would have found that my notes did not lie.

As Berlin becomes the prison capital of the Northeast, with most of the prisoners being drug abusers, and families moving into the cheap rents in the area to be near their incarcerated loved ones, I think that break-ins will only increase. I am told by good authority that cash remains the primary target of break-ins to buy ingredients and materials to support meth labs, which are now rampant in the North Country, and one of the biggest expenses in environmental remediation.

dvbl
06-08-2007, 09:47 AM
Do you mind if I include some of these if/when I do a phase two of this 'project'?...

I don't mind at all. Very polite of you to ask. In reality, these are not "my" ideas; they're just ideas collected along the way, or derived from other ideas, or just shamelessly stolen.

grog
06-08-2007, 06:06 PM
What do you do with vehicle registration?

grog

Breeze
06-10-2007, 05:42 PM
19 mile brook break-ins are truly a "cyclical thing", a spate of reports and then nothing. Suspect the same on 2 in Randolph.

Right now there are 5 State Police who live in Gorham/Berlin/Shelburne with a few more in Randolph/Lancaster, and they all have teenage kids, or teenage babysitters for younger kids.

A "profile" of the "usual suspects" leads one to the simple truth that bravado isn't bravado unless bragged on, and word gets around. Eventually, listening ears get a drift and go from there.

Working at the Auto Road and Wildcat, I'm passing 19 Mile Brook Trail 5 days a week at various morning hours pretty much year round, and always including weekend mornings. IF there is a hit at 19MB trailhead, its going to be on overnighted cars ( those who are staying at Carter Notch Hut) , and happen at dark of night, there is just too much daylight traffic on 16 for B and E to go unnoticed.

Breeze

Ed'n Lauky
06-10-2007, 08:59 PM
For what it's worth, the ranger I met at the Beaver Brook trailhead this weekend told me that there had not been any problems at all with break-ins at that trailhead. On the other hand, a few weeks ago at the Liberty trailhead for Mt. Chocorua I had left early and returned to the car fairly early. The lot was full when I returned. While I was preparing to leave a kid pulled in with a pickup, saw me, did a U-turn and left. I had a bad feeling about it, but the kid hadn't done anything wrong. My presence at that moment might have saved someone's car, but I'll never know.

erugs
06-11-2007, 09:59 AM
I posted this last Friday on the Lafayette Break-Ins thread, but it should have gone here, so I'm adding it now.

Just had a call from my friend Brian who had hiked the Osceolas Friday, 6/8. When he got back to his car at 3:00, at the Greeley Pond Trailhead off the Kanc, he was disturbed to see that another car in the lot, a new-looking green Subaru Legacy wagon, had had its window broken in. How frustrating. What's with people like that?

dentonfabrics
06-11-2007, 03:27 PM
All this talk of break-in's is skeeving me out. Yesterday, for the first time in my non-illustrious hiking career, I put a homemade cardboard sign on the drivers seat of my truck at the trailhead saying THERE IS NOTHING OF VALUE IN THIS VEHICLE.

I didnt get broken into, so I guess it must have worked. But either way, it's a real shame that we need to give this topic so much ink.


bob

Rob S
06-11-2007, 03:32 PM
I didnt get broken into, so I guess it must have worked.

Or maybe the thieves just took the day off. Unfortunately you'll never know. Seeing a sign may cause a would-be thief to break-in anyway, thinking you really must be hiding something ....

David Metsky
06-11-2007, 03:44 PM
I'm probably jinxing myself but I've been parking at NH trailheads for about 25 years, maybe 20 times a year, and never had a problem. It's really not that common.

-dave

DougPaul
06-11-2007, 07:08 PM
I didnt get broken into, so I guess it must have worked.
A potential thief could conclude that the sign is a lie in attempt to protect something valuable. IMO, such a sign could either increase or decrease the probability of a break in.

Some people put phony alarm stickers on their cars. It may protect their own cars, but it probably increases the risk for all owners of cars with alarm stickers (legitimate or not) because thieves know that some of the stickers are phony.

Note how much press the break in stories get... How many people file a report just to say that they parked at a trailhead and weren't broken into? (Actually, I'll bet that essentially all trip reports that do not include a break in story did not have a break in.)

Doug

dentonfabrics
06-12-2007, 05:48 AM
IMO, such a sign could either increase or decrease the probability of a break in.
Doug

I think you're right about this. Or you could be totally wrong. One or the other. Possibly.

bikehikeskifish
06-12-2007, 08:21 AM
Potential thieves may be reading this thread to determine when/where/how to break in. Or they may not be. Assuming they are, I wonder if that increases or decreases the chances of the sign / phony-or-not-phony alarm sticker from having the desired affect?

Tim

p.s. Anyone know any thieves we can ask? ;)

rocket21
06-12-2007, 08:39 AM
p.s. Anyone know any thieves we can ask? ;)

We're not allow to talk about politicians in this forum :)

That said, my guess is that thieves don't go to VFTT for theft techniques...its probably more of a trend thing - if everyone starts doing the sign thing, it won't be effective anymore.

RoySwkr
06-12-2007, 10:49 AM
if everyone starts doing the sign thing, it won't be effective anymore.
It will work splendidly if like Dr.D you make the sign truthful by actually leaving nothing of value, the crooks will learn to leave hikers alone.

When I was in college in the Boston area many years ago, there was a series of robberies of students walking home late from labs. Half the time the guys had no money at all, once he had 35 cents (left over from soda machine?), the max was a couple bucks. The campus police warned to expect more from this robber but I predicted he would give up and go elsewhere which is what occurred.

I have a sticker on my car that says VFTT, any robber reading this thread knows that I might be an unstable vigilante and hence will leave my car alone :-)

Pete_Hickey
06-12-2007, 11:16 AM
Sign-schmign. Just leave your doors unlocked. At least that way they won't break your window. They'll see for themselves whether there are valuables in the car or not.

dug
06-12-2007, 12:03 PM
I think you're right about this. Or you could be totally wrong. One or the other. Possibly.

In the immortal words of Sam Malone in his brief sportscasting career:

"I guess I could go either way on this one, Bob".

dms
06-12-2007, 12:19 PM
My truck was broken into at Pisgah State Park at the Route 63 parking area. As I finished my hike and got back to the parking area, I saw my truck surrounded by two police cars, I remember thinking that this can not possibly be a good thing. The police told me they had actually staked out the lot several times in the past month, unfortunately not on the day I was there. They asked me if there were any other vehicles in the lot when I had arrived, when I said yes, they told me exactly what vehicle it probably was, and it matched perfectly. All the thieves got away with was a gym bag with my change of clothes and a Mannheim Steamroller cd, and I always thought that i was the only person in NH who liked Mannheim Steamroller!! Needless to say it's a crappy feeling to come back to find your vehicle having been broken into, and a missing window on a cold fall day!

tallguinness
06-13-2007, 04:05 PM
What is, unofficially, the worse lot for frequent car break-ins?

LarryD
07-02-2007, 07:04 PM
I thought I would move this thread up and provide some information I received yesterday that might be of some interest to those who leave their cars at NH trailheads. Sapblatt, bobby and I had the occasion last evening to meet a Coos County Deputy Sheriff. We flagged him down after 9:00 p.m. to help us with a car problem at Randolph East (see Sapblatt's TR on Madison Gulf if you want more details).

The Deputy--who provided assistance beyond what we had any reasonable right to expect-- told us he was working that evening on a detail for the USFS; his job was to patrol the trailheads (at least those in the Gorham-Randolph area) to make sure everything looked OK. I know there has been some question raised on this board as to how much of a priority the trailheads were for local law enforcement. I was happy to learn that there was at least some effort being made to target parking areas for monitoring/enforcement purposes.

Nutsosa
08-13-2007, 09:44 AM
I was at the Garfield Trail parking area early on Sunday morning, about 5AM I think. A USFS truck pulled in, and the driver rolled down the window to chat with me (I guess I looked a little shady, with my trunk popped open, gear all over the ground, and the half-dazed look I get without enough coffee ;) ). He said he was patrolling the the trailhead parking lots because there had a been some breakins recently, one at the Gale River trailhead within the last week, and a couple of others elsewhere (I missed where). He told me to be sure to take my wallet with me.

It was good to see that they are making some effort to monitor the parking areas.

Sandtooth
08-30-2007, 10:18 PM
A car was broken into at the Mt Clinton Road parking lot (Crawford Trail lot) on 8/29. A GPS and camera equipment was still in the car an no other cars violated.