If you’re visiting a park this summer, make sure you’re not a smash and grab victim!

28 June 2024- As visitation at state parks climbs during the busy summer season, it unfortunately also brings an increase in reported criminal activity. Vehicles parked in Maryland state parks and other public lands can often be susceptible to theft. Criminals target cars parked at trailheads and parks as they are typically in remote areas, where the owner is likely to not be near, and may have valuables stowed inside.

In 2023, more than 50 thefts were reported from vehicles in Maryland state parks, state forests, wildlife management areas, fishing management areas, natural resources management areas, and other Department of Natural Resources managed lands. Most occurred during peak season, primarily during the summer months of June, July, and August.

The most common thefts are “smash and grabs,” where criminals break a window and steal valuables left in plain view. The Maryland Natural Resources Police advise visitors who drive to adhere to the following tips to keep their belongings secure:

Secure your vehicle. Lock doors and remove keys from the ignition, even if you are just parking temporarily. Close all windows including a sunroof, and park in a well-lit area.

Never leave valuables in plain sight. Phones, electronics, purses and wallets are common targets in smash and grabs. If these items are being left in a car, never leave them on seats or in other highly visible areas.

Make use of locked or hidden compartments. Place valuables in your trunk, a locked glove compartment, or a locked console. If it comes to it, hiding items under a seat is better than leaving them in plain view.

Consider theft deterrent devices. Audible alarms, dash cameras with motion detection, steering wheel locks, and other devices will make a vehicle less of a target to thieves. Look for signs of criminal activity

Suspicious activity should be reported by calling 410-260-8888. Don’t engage or confront potential thieves yourself – NRP officers are trained for these situations.