Mad River Union
REDWOOD NATIONAL PARK – A group of tourists from Spain was robbed by three men at a parking lot at Lady Bird Johnson Grove on Bald Hills Road Friday afternoon, Nov. 3.
The tourists had parked two cars and gone for a hike. When they returned sometime between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m., they were approached by a man wearing a tactical-style vest with the letters “SWAT” on the front. Then another male, armed with an assault-style rifle, arrived,
As the tourists were ordered to get on the ground, a third suspect walked up behind them and fired four of five shots into the air in rapid succession, which led the victims to believe it was an automatic weapon, according to a press release issued Monday by the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office.
The tourists were ordered to empty their pockets. Their items were gathered up by the suspects, who then stole the tourists’ two vehicles.
The vehicles are a white 1998 Ford Explorer, California license plate No. 6EMC192, and a white 2001 Dodge camper, British Columbia license plate No. LK7358.
One of the suspects was described as a white male, 30 to 40 years old, 5 ft. 7 inches to 5 foot, 9 inches tall, with a heavyset build. Another suspect was not seen, only heard, and used a lot of slang words and may have been younger. The third suspect was neither seen nor heard.
“The Sheriff’s Office is asking for the public’s help,” states a press release from the Sheriff’s Office. “ If the suspects or stolen vehicles are seen immediately call 911. The suspects are to be considered armed and dangerous.”
LBJ Trailhead Robbery Proven False Alarm
Park law enforcement rangers have determined the report from tourists of being robbed at gunpoint near the Lady Bird Johnson (LBJ) trailhead of Redwood National and State Parks on Nov. 3 was not true. No armed robbery took place within the parks and visitors should not be concerned about exploring the wonders of their public lands.
Upon notification of robbery, park law enforcement rangers immediately began investigating the area along Bald Hills Road where the incident allegedly took place, and began comparing its time frame with similar incidents reported outside park boundaries. While the victims claimed that multiple shots were fired from an assault-style rifle, no shell casings were found on the ground. In addition, other National Park Service employees in the area at the same time as the alleged robbery heard no shots fired.
Rangers then conducted multiple witness interviews, including the land owner of the first robbery that took place off Bald Hills Road on private land. The rangers were then able, through a third party, to contact the five tourists. They admitted that they fabricated the park robbery story because they were concerned about being associated with activities at a local marijuana operation.
Park law enforcement rangers are continuing their investigation into the matter and are collaborating with the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office.
The reduced crowds during fall and winter months, combined with the enhanced beauty of rain-washed forests make this a very enjoyable time of year for scenic drives and trail strolls. However, for safety when traveling and parking in remote areas it is always prudent to stow your valuables, electronics and accessories well out of sight—or better yet, bring them with you. Lock and alarm your vehicle, and be aware of your surroundings.
Redwood National and State Parks law enforcement officers encourage anyone with information regarding the Bald Hills Road robberies or any suspected crime within the parks to call the park crime tip line at: (707) 465-7353.