CHANDLER, AZ - A morning hike turned into a month-long nightmare for an east Valley family.
After hiking near their Chandler home, Mark Hein and his wife discovered a window of their SUV was smashed in. Thieves got away with the wife's purse that was hidden in the backseat.
Inside was the family's house keys, bank cards and medication.
"Seeing all that broken glass you just feel so violated," Hein explained. "This isn't smash-and-grab these are career criminals and this is clearly what they do for a living — if you will."
Hein filed a police report and thought that was the end of it.
Shortly after, he noticed large transactions in his checking account. After connecting the dots, he realized the same thief who stole his wife's bag stole another woman's bag from her vehicle parked near a Scottsdale trailhead.
The thief used Hein's account to launder money to herself, using the other woman's checkbook.
"The people that broke into our car, are the same people who broke into someone's on the north side of town," he explained. "She wrote about $14,000 in checks and made away with $9,000 in cash."
Police are beginning to see a spike in thefts near trailheads as peak hiking season approaches.
Officers advise taking every precaution to keep yourself, and your stuff, safe.
"Be in tune with your surroundings, if things look out of place, if you see something, say something," said Scottsdale Public Information Officer Kevin Watts
Hein doesn't want other hikers to become victims, too.
"We're coming into the heavy hiking season and I don't want to see more people get hit like this."