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Nine indicted for Pisgah National Forest car break-ins

Nine people from Gastonia and Greenville, S.C., were indicted recently for breaking into vehicles and stealing $10,000 worth of valuables in Pisgah National Forest in the spring and summer of this year and in 2016, the U.S. Forest Service said.

The break-ins mainly occurred at trailheads and developed recreation areas. Some vehicles had broken windows while others had broken locks. A few cars from which items were stolen had been left unlocked. Items stolen included cameras, backpacks, camping equipment, cash, debit/credit cards, purses, firearms, and personal identification. The total value of stolen items was approximately $10,000. The potential penalties are up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

"Historically, the Pisgah has been a problem area for these types of crime," said U.S. Forest Service Special Agent Brian Southard. "Forest visitors should leave valuables at home or if you have to bring them, take them with you when you leave the vehicle. At a minimum, valuables should be hidden in the trunk, under the seat, or elsewhere, and you should hide them before you approach your parking spot."

Visitors should report suspicious activity to the local U.S. Forest Service ranger district office or County Sheriff's office. In an emergency, call 911.