Opinion Piece Submitted by Terry Henderson, July 17, 2019 – with comment from Supervisor 1st District, Roger Gitlin
I’m writing to express my dismay over an incident that occurred during my recent stay at Florence Keller County Park. My daughter and I finishing a two-week trip to Northern California. We left Portland, Oregon on June 30th and had traveled throughout Northern California. On July 12th, 2019, we planned to stay at Jedediah Smith State Park, but found the campground full. A park employee at the entrance recommended Florence Keller County Park as an alternative, so we went there instead. We found a site and got setup for the evening.
We cooked dinner in our site, #13, built a campfire and enjoyed our campsite for the evening before heading inside around 11:30 p.m. “Inside” in this case refers to our 2001 Ford Econoline camper conversion, in which we sleep. By midnight we had turned out the lights and went to sleep.
As I discovered the next morning, during the night, a thief attempted to steal my bikes by cutting the main security cable which is used to lock my bikes to the bike rack. The thief failed, but succeeded in damaging the cable and rendering it useless. My van has a rear hitch-mounted bike rack on which I was carrying two high end mountain bikes. The rack is locked to the vehicle and the bikes were locked to the rack. The bikes were also covered by a tarp. The tarp was pulled aside and the thief spent considerable effort attempting to steal the bikes. Part of what makes this so unpleasant is that I was asleep in bed with my head approximately two feet from the bikes. My daughter also slept nearby, in the upper berth of our camper.
I find this blatant and brazen attempt to steal from me extremely disturbing. This violation has left me shaken and has tarnished what was otherwise a terrific vacation and wonderful opportunity to travel and explore throughout Northern California!
on my conversation with the camp host, this is not an isolated incident. He explained that a motorbike was stolen from his campsite the week before and that other incidents of theft had been reported recently. The camp host stated that theft is rampant in Florence Keller County Park. This experience makes me believe that not enough resources are being spent to prevent crime. No doubt tourist dollars contribute to the local economy and theft by criminals who are preying on visitors (and locals) in this fashion will only tarnish the reputation of Florence Keller County Park and the surrounding areas, and deter visitors. Keeping people safe and secure must be a higher priority. Although I got lucky, others may not be so fortunate and I’ll certainly think twice about visiting the area again.
In conclusion, my hope is that by alerting local law enforcement and government officials, I can raise awareness of this unsafe situation and seek improved safety for future visitors!