White mt. downer

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White mt. downer

#1 Post by Darrell » Thu Feb 26, 2009 12:42 am

Break-ins at White Mountains trailhead violate Code of the North
By Tim Mowry

Published Thursday, February 26, 2009
It’s a $3,500 lesson that Jeb Timm wishes he hadn’t had to learn.

Timm’s truck was one of more than a dozen vehicles that were broken into and ransacked while parked at the Wickersham Dome trailhead at Mile 28 Elliott Highway during the past two weekends.

The trailhead is a popular take-off point for skiers, snowmachiners and dog mushers heading into the White Mountains National Recreation Area to go camping in public-use cabins sprinkled along the 200-mile trail system.

Timm and his wife, Christine, traveled into the White Mountains two weekends ago “to get away for a few days,” as he put it. They rode snowmachines about 30 miles into the rec area and set up a tent along the trail near Cache Mountain. They enjoyed a blissful weekend, basking in the sun and enjoying the spectacular panoramic views the White Mountains has to offer.

When they returned to the trailhead on Sunday, they discovered their truck had been broken into, as well as several other vehicles in the parking lot. The left rear window in Timm’s 2006 Dodge Ram 3500 quad cab was broken and several items he and his wife left in the truck were missing, including a rifle that had been passed down to him by his father. In addition, the thieves also made off with an iPod, a Griffin roadtrip cradle and charger, Superchips truck tuner, a new Blackberry, a Bluetooth headset, a huge bag of tools, their IDs and three credit cards.

All in all, Timm figures he lost about $3,500.

Granted, Timm will be the first to admit that he shouldn’t have left all that stuff locked in his truck, but having grown up in Alaska and never encountering a problem leaving his vehicle parked at a trailhead, including the Wickersham Dome trailhead several times, he didn’t give it much thought.

“I usually worry about stuff in the back of the truck/boat when I have to drive through Anchorage or North Pole and make a stop at a store,” Timm said.

This time, though, Timm’s truck was cleaned out. It was almost as if the Grinch had come in and stole Christmas. The thieves took practically everything, including a pair of his wife’s jeans and sneakers.

“They took everything but three jugs of anti-freeze stacked neatly in the corner,” Timm said.

The thieves also used the credit cards they had stolen from Timm’s and other vehicles at local gas stations and convenience stores before the owners were able to cancel them.

What’s most disturbing is that the thieves returned last weekend and did the same exact thing again, busting windows out of about a half dozen cars in the parking lot and stealing anything they could find of value.

While there have been cars broken into at Bureau of Land Management trailheads in the past, it’s been one or two vehicles every two or three years, not multiple vehicles in the same parking lot on back-to-back weekends.

“I think it happens and it has happened up there before, but this is the first time it’s happened this brazenly and in this kind of volume,” BLM special agent Joe Nardinger said.

The BLM and Alaska State Troopers are doing what they can to find the thieves but the chances of doing so are probably slim without some kind of break in the case, trooper Lee Bruce said. He plans to look at videotape from some of the stores where stolen credit cards were used to see if he can identify anyone.

After the second round of break-ins last weekend, BLM officials began calling people who had reserved cabins the rest of this month and in March to warn them about the break-ins and not to leave valuables or identification in vehicles parked at the trailhead.

“There’s not much more we can do beyond that,” BLM outdoor recreation planner Collin Cogley said.

While Cogley said the BLM may consider posting a sign in the future to warn users about not keeping valuables in vehicles parked at the trailhead, he would prefer not to. People don’t go to the White Mountains to look at a bunch of signs warning them their cars are going to get broken into, he said.

“I’d really hate to see people get soured on getting outside with things happening like this,” Cogley said.

The best advice troopers have for people parking vehicles at trailheads for prolonged periods of time is to open their compartment and consoles “just to let somebody know there’s not anything worth taking,” trooper Lee Bruce, who is investigating the Wickersham Dome trailhead thefts, said.

“If they can see there’s nothing of value inside a vehicle, maybe they’ll go elsewhere,” he said.

As for leaving the doors unlocked so thieves don’t need to break the windows, Bruce didn’t necessarily endorse that practice, though it did help a few people avoid getting their windows broken in the two incidents at Wickersham Dome.

While “Don’t break into a person’s vehicle parked at a trailhead” is not included in The Code of the North, it should be. Real Alaskans just don’t do that.

If nothing else, it could potentially leave someone in a dangerous situation.

“It’s a real problem when it’s 25 below zero and the windchill factor is minus 45 and you come out to find your vehicle inoperable,” Nardinger said. “It can cause a life-threatening situation if there’s nobody else is in the parking lot and you’re not prepared to spend the night out.”

For Timm, it’s been a costly pain in the butt more than anything else. In addition to what the thieves stole, he had to pay for a new truck window, cancel a bunch of credit cards, get a new cell phone and get a new license. A woman in the Goldstream Valley found his wife’s ID, their Sam’s Club card and their marriage certificate at the transfer station in Fox, he said.

While Timm would love to get his hands on the person(s) responsible for the break-ins, he said it’s probably better if he doesn’t.

In the meantime, Timm is offering a $500 no-questions-asked reward for the return of his rifle. It’s a Ruger model 77ST bolt action .270 with a 22-inch barrel, Leopold Vari X3 2.5 x 8 scope, custom Conetrol scope rings with a rounded top receiver. The serial number is 75-09560.

Let me know if you find it and I’ll pass it on to him.

The idiots responsible for this don’t deserve to live in Alaska.

Anyone who has any information about the break-ins at Wickersham Dome can call Alaska State Troopers at 451-5100 or Nardinger at 356-5504.

If you can't fix it with a hammer, you've got an electrical problem.

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Joined: Sat Mar 04, 2006 8:21 pm
Location: NORTH POLE AK.

Re: White mt. downer

#2 Post by David » Fri Feb 27, 2009 5:48 pm

I agree this is tragic to say the least, why don't you send this to the News Minor letter to the editor section, you will be surprised how many people read and comment on the section. Just a thought.
Good luck Dave


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