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Thieves smash-and-grab from car at popular Valley trailhead

Posted at 9:27 PM, Jan 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-05 00:21:55-05

AHWATUKEE, AZ — A mother is warning others after she was the victim of a smash-and-grab during a scenic hike.

The woman, Katie, returned to the parking lot to find thieves had boldly broken out her passenger side window.

She said the small Telegraph Pass parking lot was packed when she went for her usual hike on Telegraph Pass.

"I was coming down the trail, and I saw that my window was kind of pushed out," said Katie.

As she got closer, it came into focus. Her window was smashed, and her purse was stolen.

"I was really worried because there is just so much confidential information in there. Credit cards, checks, house keys, drivers license," Katie said.

When she shared her story in a neighborhood Facebook group, many other Ahwatukee residents said they had recently had a similar experience.

"We found out that the same thing has happened to a lot of people in this area. Very similar things," Katie said.

For the mother, who is now a full-time student "everything counts." The criminals got away with Christmas money, new gift cards, and Katie's sense of safety.

"I’ve just been locking every single door to my house, I pull in the garage now and close the door first," she said.

It is also going to cost more than $1,000 to change all her locks.

That is on top of the window repair cost. Companies that fix smashed glass say they are seeing more customers are theft victims.

"Very often, a couple of times a week," said Scott Fernicola, owner of Premier Auto Glass. "We been serving the Valley for over 20 years and the last couple of years it’s really gone up a lot compared to before."

Phoenix trailheads, none of which have surveillance cameras, are popular targets.

"They are breaking the window, grabbing the merchandise, and they are gone," said Fernicola.

Katie said she is now going to leave valuables at home when she goes hiking and hopes others do not have to learn the lesson the hard way.

"To them, it’s just a purse and cash, but they don’t understand how much this affects somebody," said Katie.

Phoenix Police encourage everyone to be aware of what is in their car when they leave the house. Car break-ins are a problem across the Valley at trailheads, the mall, the gym, hotel parking lots, movie theaters, and even churches. Anywhere that thieves know they have more than 10 minutes to smash and search through the car.

Police say it helps to remember "TLC":

  • TAKE IT - Take your things out of your vehicles. If you know you are going hiking, don't take stuff to the park.
  • LOCK IT - Lock your doors. Many people leave their vehicles unlocked and/or the windows down.
  • CONCEAL IT - CONSOLES AND GLOVE BOXES DON'T WORK! That is where bad guys look first. Trunks are better and a little harder to break into. If you can't put your stuff in the trunk, cover it with an old coat, rag or gym towel on the floor in the back. Try not to use a jacket or something that might be desirable for a thief.