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Security cameras help prevent Spencer Butte car break-ins, officials say

"We know it's effective. We've definitely seen the reduction in illicit activities in parks."

Posted: Sep 30, 2019 6:25 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- A rash of car break-ins in the Spencer Butte trailhead parking lot has been curbed by the use of mobile security cameras, parks officials said Monday.

Police records show that there have been 10 reported thefts from vehicles so far in 2019. Three of those were in September alone. In response, Eugene Parks and Open Space deployed their Guardian mobile security camera array in addition to other crime prevention methods. Since then, they said there have been no thefts. 

"The second we put the Guardian trailer somewhere, illicit activity drops radically," said parks community engagement manager Kelly Shadwick. 

The security cameras, as well as two year-round Eugene Police officers dedicated to patrolling parks and park ambassadors were paid for with 2018's five-year $3.15 million operating levy funds, according to officials.

While the cameras add an extra layer of safety, Eugene police crime prevention specialist Jeff Blonde said everybody can take care to avoid break-ins. Removing valuables from your car and making sure that your vehicle is in the view of a camera are two effective methods. Trailheads and sporting events are two common draws for thieves. 

"They're looking for an easy target, and they are looking for that opportunity when somebody isn't there, maybe for an extended period, so they can take that property or 'work on it,' so to speak with tools if they need to," he said.

Hiker Jennifer Sherlock said she hikes Spencer Butte almost every day. Last winter, she parked her car by the entrance gate. When she returned, a window was broken. There was nothing valuable to steal, but she had to pay to have the window replaced.

"It's just such a sense of violation that my car was broken into; my window broken. I didn't deserve it. Why does that happen to people?" she asked. 

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