Thefts in Chippewa Co. vacation areas making for 'unhappy' campers

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HOLCOMBE, Wis. (WEAU) - With gas prices at $3.64 in the Eau Claire area, thieves are targeting campers and taking off with fuel.

The Chippewa County Sheriff’s Department said at least five thefts in the Holcombe area were reported since May 24 and people in the area said several more were not reported.

The stolen items include gas cans, fishing gear and propane tanks. People in the quiet camping area said it's a place they go to forget their troubles, not to find new ones.

“Our neighbor had his shed broken into and had a tool kit stolen and some of the other folks had their boats broken into, one of the neighbors had his cover slashed and they cut the line on the gas line for the tank and a couple other fellas had their sheds broken into and gas tanks stolen,” Dave Wallace of Holcombe said.

Instead of only worrying about having enough bug spray and sunscreen, campers in the Holcombe area are securing their property and locking their doors.

“That's the first time in nine years that we've had the campground that we've ever had anything broke into or vandalized,” Black Bear Bar and Campground owner Cathy Balisteri said.

She said after two sheds on her site were broken into, she's been keeping a closer eye on things.

“Now we're watching my husband put up cameras. We'll be watching a lot closer and watching what goes on. I never had to before and that's a shame because I shouldn't,” she said.

Some locals said they feared vacationers may get a bad impression of the area, and that it could hurt tourism.

“You feel violated, number one, and it's not fair. They're hard working people and they're here to relax and not have to worry about their stuff getting stolen,” Balisteri said.

“Eventually, they'll make a mistake and they'll pay the piper I'm sure. It's a shame you have to be concerned about it, instead of just having fun,” Balisteri said.

The Chippewa County Sheriff's Department said there are no suspects at this time and reminds people to secure what they can and to report any suspicious activity to law enforcement at (715) 726-7701.

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