Keep an Eye on Outdoor Equipment

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Thousands of people will flock to Nebraskas state park and recreation areas this year to enjoy outdoor activities, and Nebraska Game and Parks Commission conservation officers encourage anglers and campers to exercise reasonable care to ensure their outdoor gear is safe.

Conservation Officer Murray Johnson says thousands of dollars worth of outdoor equipment is stolen from campsites, vehicles and boats throughout the year and that anything that is not put away or tied down is liable to come up missing. “Most of the items stolen had been left on a picnic table, outside of a tent, on an unattended boat or in an unlocked vehicle,” he said.

Coolers, regardless of their contents, lanterns, portable radios, and portable stoves are easy prey for an opportunist that finds a campsite left unattended and the gear left lying around. Anglers must also be careful about what they leave in their boats. Those who leave rods, reels, tackle boxes and other accessories in their boat unattended overnight or out of sight of their camp are inviting someone to make off with their gear.

“A campsite can be ripped off in as little as 10 or 15 seconds,” Johnson said. “Someone may park on a nearby road, run into a campsite, pick something up and run back to their vehicle. Bicycles are also occasionally stolen from a campsite. The thieves may use the stolen gear themselves, or it may show up at a garage sale or pawn shop somewhere.”

“A good rule of thumb is, you shouldnt leave anything unattended at a campsite at the lake that you wouldnt leave unattended in your front yard,” Johnson said.

Hunters or target shooters should avoid displaying their firearms and other equipment in unattended vehicles or on pickup gun racks, advertising the condition, type and value of the guns inside the vehicle.

People should mark or engrave their name and social security number in an inconspicuous place on their gear so the equipment can be easily identified if it is stolen and later recovered by the police.