Forest Service: People stealing from fee collection boxes

Suspects caught on camera stealing money from boxes in the Mt. Hood National Forest

People were caught on camera stealing from U.S Forest Service fee collection boxes. (USFS)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The U.S. Forest Service says people have been stealing money from fee collection sites in the Mt. Hood National Forest.

Officials told KOIN 6 News the issue is widespread and becoming more common in the gorge at every state park and Forest Service site. The Columbia River Gorge and spots around Mt. Hood are seeing the biggest losses, which officials said is because they’re closer to Portland and have more traffic.

USFS released surveillance images of some of the suspects in hopes of identifying them. Some people have been arrested for thefts at parks, but there may be dozens more out there that officials hope will be identified.

“We want to do all we can to prevent this from happening and catch the people who are doing this,” Stephen Baker with the U.S. Forest Service said.

Baker said not only are these culprits stealing from the Forest Service, they’re stealing from the public.

“…and they’re hurting our ability to maintain and protect these areas that belong to everyone,” Baker said.

Park visitors can also pay fees online to avoid the box and leave less behind for thieves to take.

Anyone with information can contact Forest Service Law Enforcement Officer Ed King at 541.980.6606. Information leading to arrests will qualify for a cash reward from the USFS and reporting persons can remain anonymous.