Deputies are investigating what they believe to be a group effort in a series of vehicle break-ins at several popular Colorado Springs-area trailheads, the El Paso County Sheriff's Office said in a Monday news release.

Trail-goers became victims of the break-ins that have occurred during recent months at Section 16, Fox Run, Mount Herman and Sante Fe trailheads, deputies said.

Investigators reported that the trail-goers tried to hide purses and wallets in their vehicles, but the thieves were likely watching and waiting until the vehicle was left unattended. Windows were smashed and those valuable items were stolen from cars at the trailheads, deputies said.

The Sheriff's Office added that in many cases, the thieves would use the stolen credit cards at nearby convenience stores and purchase gift cards and other "big ticket items."

"Three factors must be present for a crime to occur: desire, ability and opportunity. You can have a significant impact on their opportunity to do so, by being aware of your surroundings, securing your vehicle, and never leaving items of value in your vehicle," the news release stated.

If you have information regarding the vehicle break-ins, you may call the Sheriff's Office tip line at 719-520-6666.

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