State park officials urge caution after rash car thefts at Range Pond

By Scott Taylor, Sun Journal
Posted Sept. 21, 2013, at 6:43 a.m.

POLAND, Maine — A rash of car break-ins this summer has state park officials urging Range Pond visitors to be careful about what they bring with them.

Gary Best, state parks assistant regional manager, said officials know of five smash-and-grab thefts this summer in the Range Pond parking area.

“It’s an unusual occurrence for us, and it’s centered in Range Pond,” Best said. “Something is going on there. That’s why we’re working with law enforcement and they are looking at each incident individually as well as a whole, seasonal pattern.”

Best said all of the incidents were similar. Visitors returned to their cars to find their belongings missing. In some cases, car windows were smashed to give the thieves access.

“It’s something we take very seriously,” he said. “We expect three things at our state parks: They should be safe, they should be clean and they should be fun.”

Park officials are putting up signs next week urging park visitors to be careful with what they leave in their cars.

“We want folks to take the precautions,” he said. “Unfortunately, it’s a sign of the times, whether it’s at a state park or a mall or any public parking area. We need to be cautious to reduce our risk of being a target.”

Best said the state has increased its ranger presence in the area and is working with the Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Department to get additional patrols through the area.

“When they see people pull in, especially if they leave their windows down or are stowing their valuables, they approach them,” Best said. “People need to be very careful wherever they are. Our staff is doing their best about raising awareness, but they can’t be everywhere all the time. People need to be careful.”

http://bangordailynews.com/2013/09/21/news/police-beat/state-park-officials-urge-caution-after-rash-car-thefts-at-range-pond/ printed on July 28, 2014