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Thieves targeting cars in canyons



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Sarah Dallof reportingIf you're heading out hiking, biking or camping in Utah's many canyons this weekend, there's a new warning out tonight, and it's one you may not be expecting.

You're headed out hiking. You've got your gear, but then you realize your iPod is in your jacket, so is your wallet. So you toss them on the seat and take off. Big mistake. The newest risk up Big Cottonwood Canyon isn't the high water levels, bears, snakes or falling rocks, it's thieves scouting parking lots, looking for an easy smash and grab.

Deputy Levi Hughes, with the Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office, said, "Most of the time the value of the things stolen are worth far less then the damage to the vehicles."

The Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office says it's getting twice as many theft reports. They're crimes that are tough to solve because there are rarely witnesses. Hughes says stolen items include, "iPods, purses, wallets, CD players, laptops. Anything left of value on a seat gets stolen."

Justin Runolfson left his golf clubs in his back seat, something he says he'll change after hearing the new warning. "I probably ought to keep them in the trunk and out of sight," he said.

In other cars, we spotted backpacks, Blackberries and radios. We even saw a car with its windows cracked open and a purse on the back seat.

"They forget the types of crimes that happen here. It only takes someone 20 minutes to drive up the canyon and make you a victim of the same crime," Hughes said.

Law enforcement suggests you leave anything you don't need at home. If you forget to do that, put your things in the trunk. With SUVs, you don't have a trunk, but you should try to hide items under a seat or blanket. Again, though, your best bet is to just leave them at home in the first place.

E-mail: sdallof@ksl.com

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