Park rangers are actively investigating several thefts from vehicles that happened within the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area in the past week, Superintendent John J. Donahue said Thursday.
In each case thieves broke windows and stole items from cars that were parked at Hialeah Picnic Area, the Lake Lenape parking lot, and in parking areas on National Park Drive, all in the southern end of the park between northeastern Pennsylvania and northwestern New Jersey.
Items that were taken include purses, cash, credit cards, and wallets that were left in the cars while the owners went hiking. The stolen credit cards were used to make purchases at Target and Staples in the Bartonsville, PA area.
Security camera footage has been obtained and is being reviewed by National Park Service law enforcement rangers.
According to Chief Ranger Eric Lisnik the items stolen were left in parked vehicles. Purses, backpacks, and wallets were left on a front or back seat or center console while the owners were recreating in the park.
“These have all been crimes of opportunity,” said Lisnik. “Don’t give would-be thieves an opportunity to make you a victim. Leave valuables at home or stow them out of sight in a trunk or other secure location before arriving at the trailhead or parking area. Do not leave valuables- or anything that contains or looks like it may contain valuables including cash and credit cards- in your car, especially in plain view,” Lisnik said.
The NPS has increased patrols in areas where the thefts have occurred and at other parking areas in the park and cameras have been installed to capture activities in those areas when rangers can’t be there.
Anyone with information on the identity of the suspects involved in these incidents is asked to call the park’s 24-hour emergency communications center at (570) 426-2457.
Visitors and local community members are reminded to be aware of their surroundings and to report anything that does not seem right by calling authorities and providing as much information as possible.
“If you see something, say something,” said Donahue.
“People come here to recreate and have a good time and they sometimes let their guard down while having fun. Thieves are taking advantage of that and we are doing everything in our power to identify and prosecute those involved in these criminal acts and to make the park as safe as possible for all of us,” Lisnik said.