UPDATED Thursday March 24 8:27pm – Video report from WSOC TV with footage from the Sugar Mountain Police Department. Video at the bottom of original article. Click here to scroll to the bottom to see.
The Sugar Mountain Police Department in Avery County is urging residents and visitors to lock their vehicles and be aware of bears in the area after several cars have been broken into by the animals. An officer with the department told WataugaOnline.com that a bear got into two cars on Saturday night, causing major damage to one of them. A bear(s) also got into two more vehicles on Tuesday night in the village and one just outside of the village.
Sugar Mountain resident Christa South shared with WataugaOnline.com that around 10:50 on Saturday night she heard her car horn from inside the house. “At first I thought someone was in the driveway, but I peeked outside and didn't see any headlights. I told my parents that I heard something and they went outside to check it out.”
South added, “The bear had already been in and out of my car (the red Prius) and was trapped inside their car at this point (the black Prius). My car door was open and trash was everywhere. But there was barely any damage to my car. Their car was totaled because he accidentally closed the door behind him and freaked out. I called the police and the officer came and opened the door and the bear ran out.”
The bear was estimated to be around 400 pounds according to Sugar Mountain Police. South estimates the bear had probably been in the car for at least 30-40 minutes before an officer could remove him. The officer used a 4 foot long unlocking tool to open the door allowing the bear to escape. In recapping the damage South added that luckily their insurance will cover the damage to both of their vehicles.
Sugar Mountain Police are strongly encouraging residents and visitors to lock their vehicles and make sure there are no food items left in them either during the day or night.