SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. - The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office is warning people to take extra precautions before heading out on hikes after the sheriff's office received two separate reports of sex crimes on rural trails in the county.
The first incident happened on Oct. 11. The sheriff's office said a woman was hiking on the Baron Ranch Trail when a man yelled at her and threatened to rape her.
In another incident, a woman was sexually assaulted by a man on Aliso Trail.
The sheriff's office says it's unclear if these incidents are related, although both happened on rural hiking trails with very few other hikers in the area.
The investigations are ongoing, but the sheriff's office is encouraging hikers to take extra precautions when going on hikes, especially with the holiday weekend approaching.
The sheriff's office is providing the following tips to help hikers stay safe:
- Hike with a companion, preferably from your household to be COVID safe.
- Complete a trip plan that details where you will be walking or hiking, your contact information, when you plan to arrive and return, and who is coming with you. Leave this information with a trusted friend or family member that is not going on the trip with you.
- Begin your hike with enough time to make it back before the sun sets
- Have a way to communicate. Do not rely on your cell phone because there may not be cellular coverage and reception. Consider having a personal locator beacon, should you need to call for help. If you are using your cell phone, keep the battery fully charged. Searching for a cell signal can quickly drain your phone battery, so consider turning off your phone or switching to airplane mode until you need it.