Vehicle burglary is by far the most common crime occurring within the District. While visitors are hiking or riding the trails or enjoying other parkland facilities, thieves may be looking into their cars' windows, looking for -- and all too often finding -- valuables in plain view. An experienced vehicle burglar can break a window, grab valuables, and be gone in a matter of seconds.
At the request of the Regional Parks Police, members of the Volunteer Trail Safety Patrol may also be walking through parking areas, looking for unlocked doors, rolled-down windows, or valuables that are visible through vehicle windows. We do this to help educate vehicle owners about their need to protect against vehicle burglary.
On identifying an unsafe situation, both Regional Parks Police officers and VTSP members may issue a Crime Prevention Notice and leave a copy under a windshield wiper on the vehicle. Though it may look like a citation, the Crime Prevention Notice is intended to point out the unsafe situation, encouraging the vehicle's occupants to avoid tempting criminals in the future.
So you may see a VTSP member walking through a District parking area and looking into vehicle windows. We are doing our part to preserve the safety of visitors' property. A VTSP member on duty will be wearing uniform clothing and carrying a District photo ID card, displayed to you upon request. If you have any question, or if you are not certain that a person who is looking into vehicle windows is a VTSP member, please contact the Regional Parks Police.
We advise you to leave valuables at home. Don't make yourself an obvious target. If you must leave valuables in your vehicle while you are on the trails, hide them well before you arrive at the parking area. Once you have arrived at the parking area, it is too late to hide valuables.
If you see one or more individuals acting suspiciously or actually committing a vehicle burglary or other crime in a District parking area, please report the incident immediately.