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Park Service investigating thefts inside Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

Newswatch 16's Amanda Eustice spoke with park officials about what they're doing to catch the person responsible.

DELAWARE WATER GAP, Pa. — Some people looking to enjoy the trails throughout the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area are getting an unpleasant surprise when they return to their vehicles — broken windows and missing belongings.

"It's a shame that people are breaking into people's cars. It can really ruin someone's day and then make them feel very uncomfortable," said Nick Leraris from Kunkletown.

Park rangers believe they have a photo of the man who is breaking into vehicles at various park trailheads and stealing items, and making fraudulent purchases amounting to tens of thousands of dollars.

So far, eight vehicles have been targeted.

"We've been seeing it up and down from one end of the park to the other. We are also seeing that when credit cards are stolen, they are getting almost immediately used at retail stores in the Stroudsburg area all the way up to the Matamoras area, and so it's a wide swath," said Park Ranger Kathleen Sandt, a spokesperson for the National Park Service.

The Park Service says these are crimes of opportunity. The person is smashing the window, grabbing the belongings, and then taking off, leaving you to have to pick up all the pieces.

"People leaving things in their vehicles in plain sight," Sandt said. "You can look in the window and see there's a purse on the seat, other valuables on the seat."

The Park Service encourages people to bring their belongings with them on the trail, hide them somewhere in their vehicle, or just leave them at home.

Park rangers say they are doing everything they can to make sure this doesn't happen again.

"We roll through the parking lot and try to do it a couple of times during the weekend. Being the fact that they're moving all over the park, it's kind of hard to tell where their next targets going to be, so we have in some places, locations throughout the park, we've installed cameras. We're working with other agencies as well to get their help," said Law Enforcement Ranger Liz Winslow.

Anyone with information on these crimes or the man in this photo is asked to contact the National Park Service's investigative services branch.

To report a tip or share information:  

  • CALL or TEXT the Tip Line: 888-653-0009 
  • ONLINE: go.nps.gov/SubmitATip 
  • EMAIL: nps_isb@nps.gov 
  • EMERGENCY: Dial 9-1-1

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