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‘Windows shattered, items missing:’ Cars broken into at Gallatin County trailheads

Posted at 2:35 PM, May 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-29 17:41:07-04

BOZEMAN – While some people were off hiking in the Gallatin Valley, others decided to break into their cars — and it’s not an isolated problem.

It’s an issue that many have reached out to MTN News about, and it’s alarming. Windows end up shattered and wallets and purses end up missing.

The Gallatin County Sheriff and the Gallatin Valley Land Trust both say the solution starts with you.

“We are as disappointed and upset as everybody else,” says EJ Porth, communications and outreach director for the Gallatin Valley Land Trust.

Bozeman is surrounded by many beautiful trails.

Kirk Hill is one of them.

But one hiker came back to find broken car windows and possessions stolen.

“Unfortunately, there’s more criminal mischief and thefts at the trailheads,” says Sheriff Brian Gootkin.

It’s a situation Sheriff Gootkin is familiar with.

“This time of year, it happens quite a bit so, again, we do extra patrols,” Gootkin says. “We try to get deputies to the trailheads but we have a lot of area to cover. So does the Forest Service.”

Gootkin says the Sheriff’s Office also hears about people taking matters into their own hands.

“I know people that have talked on social media about setting up cameras,” he says. “They can’t do that. It’s against the law.”

Porth says it is time to turn the tables on the thieves.

“Go in the complete opposite direction and do what Bozeman does best,” Porth says. “You know, be friendly on the trails. Say hi to everybody in the parking lot. Make sure everyone feels seen.”

Porth adds it is important to have a bag to keep your belongings in. That way, you can keep your valuables safe, even if you’ve gone ahead and stored them in a place like your glove box.

“Hike with dog poop bags,” Porth says. “Be stocked, ready for the trail experience.”

Or she says you can hide your belongings so they don’t sit in plain sight.

“Something that is special about Bozeman is that we are still a small town and we can kind of kill them with kindness,” Porth says.

In the end, Porth says it is up to us.

“These are our trails,” she says. “Don’t let a couple of bad actors scare you away from what makes living here so great.”

Gootkin says while his deputies do check on trailheads like Kirk Hill, it’s important for you to call authorities if you see anyone doing anything suspicious.

Reporting by Cody Boyer for MTN News