MISSOULA, Mont. - A Missoula man is accused of breaking into a car and stealing the owner's valuables. It happened at the trailhead to Mt. Sentinel off Pattee Canyon Drive.
The suspect, David Moorse, was caught at Hays Creek in the Blue Mountain area.
Law enforcement is investigating whether the case could be linked to a string of vehicle break-ins and thefts, many of them at popular trailheads across town.
A man hiking a trail off Pattee Canyon Drive told deputies he heard glass shatter in the trailhead parking lot Monday afternoon. He told them he saw two suspicious men near his car, then watched them drive off.
Deputies had been investigating car break-ins and thefts at trailheads all over Missoula. They decided to check out Blue Mountain trailhead across town. There, they said they found the suspect's car, and two men took off running.
"The two male suspects led our deputies on a foot chase," said investigator Det. Sgt. T.J. McDermott.
Deputies were able to apprehend them towards Hayes Creek nearby, said McDermott.
Twenty-seven-year old Moorse pleaded not guilty to theft and criminal mischief charges. The other suspect in the case hasn't been charged.
Investigators said this case could be linked to more than a dozen recent car break-ins and thefts.
Investigators may have linked this crime to other trailhead thefts in the Missoula area after they found a number of purses that had been dumped.
"The best practice is to keep your valuables at home," said Detective Sgt. Travis Welsh with the Missoula Police Department, "If you have to take them put them in your trunk," he said.
Hiker Jessica Moats said its a good reminder to leave valuables at home.
"I think I'm going to keep everything with me," said Moats, "or not bring it at all."
The Judge set bail for Moorse at $50,000. Moorse is on felony probation.