'It's quite the shock': Returning from the backcountry to a ransacked SUV

Laura Kanik's vehicle was missing from the Peyto Lake parking lot when she returned from a three-day trip. It was found later, abandoned with a smashed window.

RCMP say lock up the vehicle and don't leave valuables in sight when heading into the wilds

Laura Kanik parked her SUV at the Peyto Lake parking lot in Banff National Park and went on the Wapta traverse trip. Three days later she discovered her older-model SUV had been broken into and left running ten kilometres down the road. (Canadian Press)

Lake Louise RCMP are reminding drivers not to leave valuables in their vehicles when they head out into the backcountry.

The warning was prompted by the experiences of Laura Kanik, who posted on social media about having her SUV ransacked while she was skiing in the wilderness.

She'd parked her older-model SUV at the Peyto Lake parking lot in Banff National Park in late April. When she returned from a three-day traverse with friends, she discovered her vehicle was gone.

"It's quite the shock to come back from the backcountry and you kind of think you are almost home, almost eating that burger that you wanted, and then your car is gone," Kanik told the Calgary Eyeopener.

SUV found by RCMP

Eventually she found her SUV at a parking lot 10 kilometres away, with a smashed window and a kitchen knife mysteriously left on the hood. A note from the RCMP said the SUV had been left running, and so they'd taken the key to the station.

"Of course you are trying to make sense of those kind of irrational actions. Maybe they got in the car and realized it wasn't worth stealing, but obviously they left in a hurry," said Kanik, who lives in Golden, B.C.

Kanik regrets leaving the key in the glove box, but she says she has talked to other backcountry enthusiasts who leave spares in or around their vehicles in case they lose their keys out on the trail.

Nothing valuable was inside her SUV so very little was stolen, she said, but her post about the incident on a Facebook group prompted similar stories from other backcountry users.

Don't leave behind valuables

RCMP Sgt. Gerald Walker reminds visitors about taking precautions.

"These sort of incidents are kind of opportunistic, right? So when you do park for a length of time — and any period of time really — you don't want to leave valuables in sight. You want to lock your doors on your vehicles and remove the temptation," he said.

"That's the nature of today. You need to keep that in mind everywhere. It doesn't happen to you 99 per cent of the time and when you least think of it, it does."

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener