Authorities Discouraging Vigilante Justice at Bozeman Trailheads
The following is from the Gallatin County Sheriff's Office:
As more people use local trailheads, there are some people who are intent on spoiling the fun. We appreciate everyone who wants to help solve the problem, but please do not install surveillance cameras on public or private land.
The Forest Service has legal constraints for having cameras at their trailheads and private landowners will often have restrictions on what can be done on their land. As frustrating as the break-ins are, vigilante justice is always a bad idea and often can lead to very bad outcomes.
If you see something, say something: call the Sheriff’s Office at 582-2100 and report it. You can also take pictures of suspicious things and share them with the Sheriff’s Office or Forest Service.
We spoke to Forest Service Law Enforcement Captain Nate Card for some clarification regarding issues at Bozeman area trailheads.
One of the main issues is vehicle break-ins at trailheads. Captain Card told us that in the state of Montana, the limit for camping or leaving personal property on public land is 14 days. The law also applies to surveillance cameras installed near trailheads.
Card also gave some advice to hikers in the Bozeman area:
- Lock your car doors
- Do not leave anything valuable inside of your car
- If you see something, say something: call the Sheriff’s Office at 582-2100 and report it. Don't attempt to deal with the situation yourself
- Use your cell phone camera to take pictures and video
Deputies and forest service law enforcement drive through trailheads regularly, but there is a lot of ground to cover and it is hard to be everywhere at once. Authorities prioritize trailheads with reports of suspicious activity.