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Old 09-09-2020, 09:01 PM   #1
rbi99
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Theft in the backcountry

Just wondering if people are getting stuff stolen while out climbing/hiking with so many novices out there. I always leave my stuff in my tent/lean to, but I usually only backpack in early spring/late fall and mid week to avoid crowds. I realize that doesn't apply this year, which is why I am heading up to NH Sunday instead of Lake Placid.

I am not suggesting that I think thefts have gone up, strictly asking if they have.
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Old 09-09-2020, 09:20 PM   #2
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Crime is everywhere.
https://www.adkforum.com/showthread.php?t=27761
I suspect a local who may be out of work or who need $$ to feed his/her habit.
Once at Pharoah Lake Parking lot, years ago, my van was broken into. Binoculars, stereo and speakers were taken. I suspected the hunters who were checking us out as we were packing for the hike in, they knew were wouldn't be back anytime soon. Fortunately they didn't break any windows.

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Old 09-10-2020, 06:45 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by electbc View Post
Crime is everywhere.
https://www.adkforum.com/showthread.php?t=27761
I suspect locals who may be out of work or who need $$ to feed their habit.
Once at Pharoah Lake Parking lot, years ago, my van was broken into. Binoculars, stereo and speakers were taken. I suspected the hunters who were checking us out as were packing for the hike in, they knew were wouldn't be back anytime soon. Fortunately they didn't break any windows.
As a local and hiker I take offense to your statement. Just because we are locals doesn't mean we are a thief. I would almost bet that the majority of things stolen are from people out of the area.
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Old 09-10-2020, 06:50 AM   #4
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I couldn't agree more. Most hunters would be more likely to watch out for your things than to steal them.
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Old 09-10-2020, 09:13 AM   #5
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Back to the OP topic - I think theft in the backcountry remains quite rare. I have not seen any reports suggesting an increase in backcountry theft this year, even with the large number of people out there.

Theft at the parking lot is a different topic. That's been around for as long as I can remember. It usually comes in waves, and stops after police arrest a single perp or small group of perps. Then it's quiet for a while (sometimes several years) until a new perp starts again.

There was a big run of parking lot car break ins in the adirondack high peaks about 25 years ago; then they caught the guy (solo actor) and it stopped. Similarly, NH had a run of catalytic converter / sawzall thefts in parking lots several years ago, but I have not heard about any of that in the last few years, so again I think the perp(s) were caught.

(And I agree with others - each perp is an individual making a bad choice; let's not suggest that any particular "groups" are a problem.)
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Old 09-10-2020, 09:39 AM   #6
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I have seen/heard several stories of kayak/canoe/bike racks stolen off of vehicles at trailheads and parking areas this year. The assumption by many seems to be that the influx of people due to Covid has lead to an increase in opportunistic crimes like this. No way to know for sure I guess, but it seems a reasonable assumption.
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Old 09-10-2020, 10:06 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by adkman12986 View Post
As a local and hiker I take offense to your statement. Just because we are locals doesn't mean we are a thief. I would almost bet that the majority of things stolen are from people out of the area.
Ok so sorry I offended the 99.999999 percent. I shall rephrase it, a single local actor, not the majority of the good people of the Adirondacks.
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Old 09-10-2020, 10:19 AM   #8
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I couldn't agree more. Most hunters would be more likely to watch out for your things than to steal them.
I agree. My point is these particular hunters who were checking out my van as we were prepping for our hike. They didn't need to get so up close unless they needed something. Most hunters are good, then there are the ones who shoot up signs and power transformers.
Our scout camp ranger was beat up and his dog was shot during one altercation when the ranger was trying to keep a group of hunters off scout property. He had to wear a sidearm from that day forward during hunting season.

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Old 09-10-2020, 03:13 PM   #9
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Old 09-10-2020, 08:36 PM   #10
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OK So Back to the original Question. Here are two instances from 2019:

https://www.adkforum.com/showthread.php?t=27265

And

Town of Hardenburgh
Ulster County

Larceny Investigation: On August 13, Forest Ranger Robert Stratton received a call from DEC Central Dispatch about a possible larceny at Alder Lake within Balsam Lake Wild Forest. A camper's table, chairs, firewood, and food were stolen during the previous two days when he left his campsite to tend to family business. When the camper returned, he went to a neighboring campsite to ask if they saw anyone take his things. While speaking to the people at the adjacent campsite, he saw his table and chairs, and when questioned, the campers told him they were borrowing them. He then hiked to cell phone coverage and called 911 to report the incident. At roughly 9 p.m., Forest Ranger Stratton and New York State Police arrived on scene. One of the campers denied taking any material from the complainant's campsite in the initial interview, but upon further investigation, it was determined that the individual had taken firewood, food, and the table and chairs from the complainant. Forest Ranger Stratton then issued the camper a ticket and evicted him from the campsite.

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Old 09-13-2020, 06:46 PM   #11
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In over 1,000 nights (conservative estimate) in the backcountry, I have only twice had someone mess with my property- both times my bear hang.

In the first instance, I was camped on Pharaoh Lake with a friend. After arriving and setting up camp, we decided to climb Pharaoh Mountain. I did a quick bear hang for the food we weren't taking with us, and we set off. A few hours later, we returned to find a father and his young son setting up a tent no far from our bear hang. The bear hang itself was on the ground. I approached the father and asked him, "did you take our food bag down?" to which he responded with a simple "yes." When I inquired as to why, he simply stated "I wanted to see what was in it."

I didn't follow up on that comment but now, years later, I sort of wish that I had. My best guess is that he had never seen a bear hang before, and was truly perplexed as to why anyone would hang their food in a tree.

The second instance was at Rock Pond, also in the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness. I was in for a few nights and decided to climb Treadway Mountain on one of the days. I returned in the afternoon to find my food bag sitting on the ground- no sign of the rope whatsoever. A single apple had also been taken from my food bag, the draw string of which had been cinched tight again (so I know it was definitely a human, not an animal).

I have a close friend that had a much worse circumstance happen to her. A few years ago in winter, she decided to do an overnight trip to St. Regis Mountain. She hiked into the designated tent site at the base of the mountain (in the clearing where the old observers cabin used to stand), set up camp, and then proceeded to climb the mountain. When she returned to camp, all of her gear was gone... needless to say, she was beyond pissed. When she got back to the trailhead, she found a note on the register that said "found gear" and had a phone number to call. She called the number and the person who answered indicated that yes, he had all of her gear. They lived in Saranac Lake so she went to his house to get her stuff- he turned out to be pretty young (a teenager). When she asked why he'd taken her gear, he said that he and his friends had been out hiking, had found her campsite, and when they saw no one was around they assumed the gear had been abandoned (apparently the idea of setting up a campsite and going for a day hike elsewhere had never occurred to them).

I do think that backcountry theft can be a problem but I agree with the other posters that it tends to be fairly rare. I do my best not to leave anything super valuable behind, nor anything moderately valuable in plain sight (I can't believe some of the stuff I've seen sitting out in the open at places like Marcy Dam or Lake Colden, nor that people will leave their tents wide open, in some cases not even putting the fly on before departing for a day hike!). I generally maintain that in the backcountry at least, it's more so stupidity that you have to watch out for, rather than outright vindictive and selfish behaviors (as evidenced by the experiences I mention above).
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Old 09-13-2020, 11:42 PM   #12
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I had the opposite thing happen to me. Left my binoculars at a launch site and when I returned, someone had placed them on a fencepost so they could be found.They were there for hours and lots of people were around that day.
Pretty decent.
Never had a problem with theft in 35 yrs
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Old 09-14-2020, 10:06 AM   #13
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The only "theft" issue I've ever experienced was at the Forked Lake state campground. I had carried my canoe over from the Raquette River the night before so all I'd have to do is grab my pack and go the next morning. When I got to the beach it was obvious my canoe was gone. My students were pretty upset and a couple of them got one of the school canoes and paddled out to look for my boat; I went up to the Ranger's office to see if he knew of anything.

In the end, the culprits were found on Forked Lake. They were fishing and said they'd rented a canoe so they figured this one was OK to use. Of course, my canoe was a kevlar We-No-Nah "Jensen 17" while the rental canoes were all aluminum Grumman boats that were clearly marked with "Forked Lake State Campground" on every one. What really ticked me off was the number of cracks I found in the hull when I got the canoe back. None of them leaked but I had a lot of surface work to do when I finally got home.

That's all for now. Take care and until next time...be well.

snapper

PS - Like DSettahr I had a food bag disturbed once as well. We were on the Raquette River above Trombley's Landing and we went off for a day trip. When we came back the food bag was on the ground with a note thanking us for the food. Really? Thankfully we had enough to keep everyone full until we left the following morning.
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Old 09-14-2020, 11:06 AM   #14
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I left a banjo out in the open in a lean-to once and did a long hike. When I got back everyone's worst nightmare had come true: There were two banjos.
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Old 09-15-2020, 01:09 PM   #15
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I left a banjo out in the open in a lean-to once and did a long hike. When I got back everyone's worst nightmare had come true: There were two banjos.
Could have been worse, they might have left an accordion.
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Old 09-15-2020, 09:49 PM   #16
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I left a banjo out in the open in a lean-to once and did a long hike. When I got back everyone's worst nightmare had come true: There were two banjos.
and a mike
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