Washington couple arrested for stealing at Sequoia National Park

September 9, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Purses and more than 35 ID cards were found on suspects that investigators say were preying on out of town visitors at Sequoia National Park. Thomas Moore and Keely Patrick are in jail after Tulare County Sheriff Deputies say they were caught stealing from people at Sequoia National Park.

A visitor at the park saw the suspects in a U-Haul acting suspicious. They also saw that a car had been broken into near them, so they call the sheriff's office.

People from all around the world travel to Sequoia National Park to get a glimpse of breath-taking views and explore nature; most find themselves trying to protect their cars and food from bears and other wildlife. However, over the weekend some tourists found they had to ward off thieves.

"People get in here and get thinking about vacation and don't think about being the victim of a crime. So, we do ask them to be really careful with their property," Chief Park Ranger Kevin Hendricks said.

On Saturday afternoon investigators say a person at the Indian Head parking lot, near the entrance of Sequoia National Park spotted a car with a broken window and two people nearby in a U-Haul acting suspicious. Once authorities were alerted to the possible criminal activity, they spotted Thomas Moore and Keely Patrick in Three Rivers, and pulled them over.

"We were able to identify that one of them had numerous warrants from out of the area, that they were in possession of stolen property that they had identification from over 35 different people," said Sgt. Chris Douglass with the Tulare County Sheriff's Office.

Sgt. Douglass says the two also had stolen purses, backpacks, plus drugs, and one was driving with a suspended license. Investigators aren't sure if all the stolen items were taken from tourists at the park.

"We did identify that some visitors at the park had some things that were stolen and then once we did make that contact and search the vehicle we saw there were additional items and realized there were more victims than we originally thought," Sgt. Douglass said.

The crime had some visitors spooked.

"It's shameful and its sad when people come to the national parks to just enjoy the natural beauty and so forth, they shouldn't be so worried of vandalism and thieves," visitor Carol Halla said.

The suspects are not from the area they are from Everett, Washington. They are now in a Tulare County jail facing a wide range of charges. Investigators will be taking on the lengthy task of making contact with all the possible victims, and seeing if they can get their property back to them.

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