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Thread: Gear theft

  1. #1
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    Default Gear theft

    I'm not asking about theft at parking lots, trailheads, etc. I know that happens, usually from non-hikers. I mean theft in the back country, on the AT or other trails, where the most likely culprits are other hikers. How common is it, if at all?

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    Nada in my experience. Rather just the reverse, hikers offer each other help, gear, food, rides, etc.
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    It's happened.

    But it's very far from common or normal.

    It shoudnt be an issue anyways because as a hiker you are responsible for keeping your pack and equipment in check.

    With that said, i have zero problems leaving my gear unsupervised with other hikers around that I know.



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  4. #4

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    What about when going into town? Do you usually leave your pack outside of a business or take it in? Any issues when leaving it outside?

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    I suspect the occasional non-intown pack theft is done by bears.

    In a crowded shelter or hostel, gear can go missing because someone picked it up thinking it was theirs. So much gear looks alike and if packing up in the dark, it's easy to do. If the group is moving more or less at the same speed, this can often be resolved at the next shelter.

    Forgetting to pack something is also easy to do. If something goes missing you probably left it at the last camp. Hostels are a good place to loose odds and ends as they roll under the bunk or get forgotten in some dark corner.

    That said, one should keep valuables on one's person and keep any small valuable items out of plain sight. No sense tempting someone.
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    Quote Originally Posted by FreeGoldRush View Post
    What about when going into town? Do you usually leave your pack outside of a business or take it in? Any issues when leaving it outside?
    It depends. Sometimes you can bring your pack in a store with you, sometimes not. Large grocery stores I put my pack in the shopping cart. Small convenience stores with narrow isles I leave it outside by the door. Fast food places I'll bring it in and put it in the booth with me or leave it inside near the door. fancier restaurants will often have a place to put the pack, just ask.

    But really, who wants your dirty clothes and smelly pack anyway? It's contents might be worth $1000, but it's not stuff which can be easily and quickly turned into any amount of cash.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

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    The hiking community is a much safer - less invasive community than the real world.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FreeGoldRush View Post
    What about when going into town? Do you usually leave your pack outside of a business or take it in? Any issues when leaving it outside?
    Some places you can take it in
    Some places you cant
    Some you shouldnt, youd knock things over.

    Some set aside a place inside door for packs to be put

    Some restaurants make you leave it out front, for no good reason at all.
    Some dont.

    Generally no problem.

    Could it walk off? Sure.
    Not common.

    Just keep eye on it. Sit where can see it if make feel better.
    Generally, just do what others are doing.
    And a small pack.....is less trouble.
    I can wear my pack in businesses without objection most of time.
    Last edited by MuddyWaters; 01-07-2019 at 00:18.
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  9. #9

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    There's plenty of dirtbags out there, 99% of which you'll avoid if you stay away from shelters.

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    Across N. America, not just on the AT, I find backpackers stealing gear from other backpackers to be rare, very rare in the back country. In more congregated areas of higher use like backcountry FS managed CG's the theft rate I think is higher. Where I do see theft among users having access to the backcountry is among hunters, fishermen, off road enthusiasts, skiers, snowshoers, snowmobilers, and hikers. Greater powered vehicle access to anywhere in the backcountry invites greater risk of theft. I probably know of or suspect more theft and vandalism occurrences to hunters maybe at the hands of other hunters and ATVer types than anything else i.e.; deer stands, decoys, blinds, breaking into cabins, hunting camps(taking gear and food), especially that have ATV access, and especially that have expensive powered equipment like generators, snowmobiles, power tools, etc. I've met hunters on the CO Tr, just off the BMT, and CDT that said they had stuff stolen from their hunting camps. It happens at backcountry ski chalets as well. Backcountry private seasonal CG's are at risk. I've seen that occur just off the AT in PA and NJ at CG's I was doing volunteering reconstruction cabin work. Backcountry sites near water access canoes, kayaks, and paddling gear are stolen. That's an issue in AK, WI, MT,.. I've lived on lakes and had two boats stolen. Most folks know this so secure these items or don't leave new most expensive items like these behind. Temporarily vacated back country cabins, seasonal hunting camps, fire towers, ranger stations, vehicles, RV's, public utility sites, etc are more prone to theft and vandalism. It's assumed you are aware of this since you're LE. I've seen it occur to back country ranching properties at wells, windmills, barns with stored equipment, along fence lines, etc. I see theft in legal backcountry growing operations(yes legal cannabis grows included) and agricultural sites.

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    I'm sure it's happened. On the AT during my thru, I never once felt like I should carry my pack inside to shop (or whatever). I did take me wallet and cell with me just in case, but never had an incident on the AT. I think most towns (at least along the AT) are pretty hiker friendly. Other hikers never messed with my gear and we actually looked out for one another on a few occasions (just in case). But it all worked out.
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    I read where a woman and her dog's gear was stolen last year near Damascus. Someone lost a pack near Dismal Creek during my thru hike. He thought it was stolen but I think a bear got it. I had seen a bear in the area the day before.
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  13. #13

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    in my years of backpacking I have not seen or heard of backcountry theft of gear, food, etc that wasn’t wildlife related. Hiker on hiker crime rate seems low. I also have never thru hiked, for the record.

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    My favorite hiking hat went MIA while at the ATC in Harpers after getting my picture taken. Never did figure out if it left the building or was just hiding. At least it was in the pictures so it lives on.

  15. #15

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    I don't want to mention the place by name, but there's a fairly popular blue blaze with a view, that's up a rather steep incline. I and a lot of other people just left our packs at the trail junction, and climbed on up and down with a high degree of confidence that no one would touch our gear. In hindsight, it was a bit stupid because we had food in our packs and it was in bear country.

    You get a feel for the group of people around you, and in my case, there was zero concern with gear theft at any point in the backcountry. In fairness to the wild animals however, don't leave your food bag lying around unattended on the ground. Leaving a food bag on the ground, in the daytime with a group of hikers, no concern.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Crossup View Post
    My favorite hiking hat went MIA while at the ATC in Harpers after getting my picture taken. Never did figure out if it left the building or was just hiding. At least it was in the pictures so it lives on.
    I lost a nice hat at a shelter in VA - my fault, forgot to pack it. A few days later I saw someone walk by wearing it. I was going to say "hey that's my hat!", but let it go by. I've picked up plenty of lost or forgotten pieces of gear (mostly clothing) over the years, so I figured that was my pay it forward hat.

    Once I found a nice, brand new pile jacket laying in the middle of the trail, just a few miles north of Springer. I scooped it up and threw it over the top of my pack, thinking I could use a new pile jacket. But about 10 minutes later I caught up to the guy who lost it, just as he realized it was no longer hanging off the back of his pack. So I gave it back. He was very grateful.

    I've lost bandanas, water bags, knives, hats and assorted odds and ends along the trail, but have never had anything stolen.
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    I suspect the occasional non-intown pack theft is done by bears.



    i realize you were making a joke but this happens in the smokies...

    Russell Field and Cosby Knob shelters have "resident" bears that will take off with a pack....

    they have learned to associate a pack with food so when a pack is left unattended, they will grab it...


    Patman on this board has a story about it happening to him....

  18. #18
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    I've never heard of a theft in three years of doing LASH's on the AT. As a matter of fact, I forgot my camp shoes at a campsite once and another hiker carried them 20 miles to return them to me. Who would have thought?

    Aside from that, what hiker wants to carry more weight? They'd be crazy to steal something to add to their own pack.
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  19. #19

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    Someone stole stuff from food bags hanging on a line at an AT shelter in the middle of the night. He (or she) took 1-2 items of food out of a couple food bags.

    My food was okay, but that is the only time I've experience a problem.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ldsailor View Post
    I've never heard of a theft in three years of doing LASH's on the AT. As a matter of fact, I forgot my camp shoes at a campsite once and another hiker carried them 20 miles to return them to me. Who would have thought?

    Aside from that, what hiker wants to carry more weight? They'd be crazy to steal something to add to their own pack.
    Probably the most commonly stole item is food.

    I've heard of it a few times before.

    Also, Ive seen people return lost or forgotten items as well. That is far more common.

    I've seen people blacklisted from hostels for being known theives.



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