Bear in Tahoe Locks Itself in Car, Rips Interior to Shreds

PLACER COUNTY -- A mess was left behind after a car was broken into near Lake Tahoe, but in this case, the burglar was a bear.

"It’s pretty devastating," said Placer County Sheriff's Sgt. Dave Hunt.

Sheriff’s deputies said the loot the bear was after was food. Most bear encounters involve bears invading humans' space in search of food. That’s why garbage containers in the mountains are made to be bear proof.

Bears in the area have learned to open car doors. Although getting in a car may be no problem for a bear, don’t forget that most interior car handles and locks in a car are made to be childproof.

When Placer County sheriff's deputies arrived, the bear was locked inside, which was bad news for the car owner because the bear thrashed around trying to escape. It also defected and urinated in the vehicle.

Deputies were unable to open the doors.

"The bear had somehow locked the doors and broke the handles off, so they couldn’t open it from the outside," Hunt explained.

A rear hatch was finally opened allowing the bear to escape.

Bears are wild, powerful animals. The Placer County Sheriff's Officers says bears are often shy around people but sometimes become bold when it comes to food.

Lake Tahoe is a tourist mecca. Unfortunately, city dwellers may not take the same bear precautions as locals.

With recent bear encounters in Davis at the university and a bear sitting in a residential area in Vacaville, urban dwellers may have to learn how to be bear aware as well.

The sheriff's office says if you are visiting bear country, remember to lock away your garbage in the garage and use bear-proof containers if available. Don’t leave food in your car because bears can sniff out even crumbs of food in a vehicle.

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