Vehicle break-ins on the rise at Badger Mountain and Candy Mountain trailhead parking lots, per officials

Benton County officials say car windows are being broken at the trailhead parking lots.
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Badger Mountain and Candy Mountain vehicle break-ins on the rise.

KENNEWICK, Wash. — Benton County officials are warning hikers that recreate at Badger and Candy mountains to be on the lookout for thieves breaking into cars.

In a news release, the Benton County Commissioner’s Office stated numerous vehicles have been broken into at the trailhead parking lots.

The break-ins are taking place at Badger (Westgate trailhead, off of Dallas Road) and Candy Mountain. Reports have been filed with the Benton County, WA Sheriff’s Office and the Richland WA Police Department, and are being investigated.

Windows are being broken to get into cars, but we still urge everyone to make sure their vehicles are locked prior to hiking and to not leave valuables in your car – whether they are in plain sight or not. The most frequently stolen items are wallets and purses that are left in vehicles – credit cards, cash, and IDs. These items are often not in plain sight, but are under the front seat, in the glove box, or in the center console.

We appreciate the community using our parks and trail systems, but the vehicles parked at trailheads are often low-hanging fruit for thieves. We believe that in many cases the perpetrators are hanging around the parking lots, stalking their targets.

When a visitor parks and leaves their vehicle, the thieves know people are going to be gone from their vehicles for long periods of time and will likely leave their wallets and other valuables in their car to avoid carrying them. The thieves wait for the unsuspecting victim to get a little ways up the trail, then they strike.

In one recent case, a victim received a fraud alert text before they reached the summit of Candy Mountain. So, the perpetrator was able to execute the theft, get to a location in the Southridge area, and begin trying to use credit cards in the time it took the hiker to cover just a mile-and-a-half of trail.

The County is continuing to explore options for increased security at the trailhead parking lots, but no decisions have been made at this time. We ask that anyone who sees suspicious activity at any local trailheads to call 9-1-1, to leave your valuables at home, and always be sure to lock your vehicle when you are hiking.