The thieves cased the area around the McGregor Mountain foothills, on the hunt for vehicles with unlocked doors — which helps you open them if you don’t have opposable thumbs and you are also a bear.
Local black bears in northern Colorado have channeled fictitious velociraptors, opening car doors to swipe food so often that they break into vehicles without smelling food just to see if they get lucky.
On Friday, one bear tried its luck in a home in Estes Park, attracted by the scent of trash in the area, the town’s police department said in a statement.
The bear slipped into the house through an unlocked door while the residents were home and knocked over a trash can that blocked the bear’s exit. “He tore off the insulation. Tore out an outlet from the wall and started poking his claws through and his nose through and digging his way out,” homeowner John Sliwinski told KDVR.
A neighbor came by to report the disturbance, and police arrived on scene.
The bear was not having that. It turned tail and ran when officers arrived, paying no mind to the wall blocking its way. The bear “forcibly breached a hole in the wall like the ‘Kool-Aid Man’ and made its escape,” the department said on Facebook.
The department was referring to the anthropomorphic drink mascot that destroys brick walls as it shouts “Ohhh yeah!” — never seeming to baffle or terrify children and, in at least one commercial, helping authorities stop bank robbers.
Bears have grown accustomed to breaking into cars to steal food, Colorado Parks and Wildlife said in a statement. They have even gone into cars that had “not even a crumb,” the Colorado Parks and Wildlife said in a statement.
“This shows that some individual bears are so habituated to receiving food from vehicles that some are going car to car seeing if they are unlocked, even if they don’t see or smell food,” the agency said.
Sometimes bears are drawn to odors from products such as lip balm and hand sanitizer, said Jason Clay, an agency spokesman, or they will root through cars that have only a lingering smell of food but nothing physically there.
Even a clean car with a single french fry under the seat can be enticing. “That will lure a bear in, too,” he said, warning people to leave doors and windows locked. Open garage doors are also a hazard, he said, when bears come around for pet food or to pick through freezers.
Bears are so good at breaking into things that six grizzlies outside Yellowstone National Park became professional product testers, mauling containers to evaluate whether they could be certified “bear resistant.”
The area has seen recent bear-related home invasions and high-profile car break-ins. In 2017, a bear in Vail opened a kitchen window, wandered around the house and stomped its paws on a piano. The performance was not great.
A year before, in Jefferson County, a bear wandered into a Subaru, somehow closed the doors and locked itself in, prompting sheriff’s deputies to very carefully approach the vehicle and let the beast out.
“Thankfully once the door was open the bear had no interest in deputies, only in getting back into the wild,” the department said then.