SPOKANE, Wash. — Spokane Police said illegal camping along the Fish Lake Trail off Sunset Highway in Spokane has been a problem in the past and is getting worse.
At the end of May, a homeless man was arrested after setting a string of fires along the trail. Since then, police have worked to clean up the area and stop what has become a large illegal camping problem.
"We ran across about half a dozen to a dozen unoccupied tents, but we believe there's quite a bit more than that,” John O’Brien with the Spokane Police Department said.
Piles of garbage, abandoned tents, clothing, fire pits and drug paraphernalia have been found along the trail. Neighborhood resource Officer Tim Ottmar made the area a priority to help increase the safety of people who frequent the area.
"We had a number of people this morning who were going out on their bike rides, thanking us, because they feel like their safety has been compromised a little bit because of the illegal activity going on," O’Brien said.
Along with the mounds of trash left behind, Spokane Police said the people camping illegally were also stealing and creating a theft problem in the area.
"There's a construction crew out here doing some new building,” O’Brien said. “They were having tools stolen from them and this is a really popular bike and walking trail."
Although the problem is not gone, Spokane Police said conditions have improved. They believe the trail is safe to use but do recommend people go in pairs when possible and keep an eye on their surroundings.
If you see anything suspicious, you are asked to call Crime Check at (509)456-2233 so police can continue to improve the area for everyone who wants to enjoy it.