Car break-ins becoming a problem at trailhead parking lots in Issaquah

Car break-ins have become a major problem at several trailhead parking lots at the Issaquah-Alps. Several viewers have sent photos to KIRO 7 of shattered car windows and items rummaged through.

The King County Sheriff’s Office says that those parking lots are becoming targets, just like those at apartment complexes and other lots. Officials say some of the items targeted in the break-ins were garage door openers and vehicle registrations in order to find addresses.

Jeff Lowder is an avid hiker in the area. He says he started noticing the problem in April when he went to one of the trailheads.

“And I pulled into a parking lot and the car next to me I noticed had a busted-out window,” Lowder said.

He says that since then, he has heard many horror stories.

“A woman pulled up to me and said she arrived right before me and that five of the seven cars in the parking lot had smashed-out windows,” Lowder said.

“There was one person at the Mailbox Peak Trailhead who says they got frustrated they couldn’t get into his locked glove compartment, so they set his car on fire,” Lowder said.

It has gotten so bad in recent months, he says several hikers have told him they leave their car windows open and doors unlocked to avoid smashed glass.

“It’s really frustrating because you feel like you have to make a choice between do I want to enjoy the outdoors, the beautiful parks and trails that we have and put my car at risk, or do I not do that,” Lowder said.

Lowder has come up with a four-point security proposal for the trails that he wants to share with law enforcement. He believes there needs to be more signage in the area, more security cameras, more volunteer watch groups, and more crime data collecting to see which areas are hit the hardest. He says he isn’t a victim of a car break-in, but after hearing the stories he has heard, he believes all incidents should be reported.

“Please report it to somebody so that at least the hiking community or law enforcement can know where this is happening. And we can warn people where the greatest risk is,” Lowder said.