Bears break into Gatlinburg woman’s car, steal lunch

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GATLINBURG (WATE) – It’s not your everyday crime. Bears broke into a Gatlinburg woman’s car.

Kathy Gafford sent the WATE 6 On Your Side newsroom pictures of two bears climbing inside her car while she was working at a cabin along Ski Line Drive.

“The baby was sitting in the passenger seat. The mama was sitting in that seat looking like she was cruising around, like she was fixing to take off. I was carjacked by a bear,” said Gafford.

The pictures she snapped are worth a thousand words.

“I’ve always left my windows down. I just took for granted that they would never get in my car. Well, wrong.”

The break-in, or crawl-in, happened while Gafford was inspecting cabins on Monday.

“She grabbed my purse, that’s the green thing you see sticking out of her mouth,” said Gafford.

The bears also polished off Gafford’s snacks and lunch.

“Mama was the bad one, she was the bad bear. She wanted anything and everything she could find in my car.”

Gafford says it wasn’t so much scary as it was amusing. She was busy banging on pans and yelling to spook the wannabe criminals away.

“She hissed at me a couple of times yesterday and I told her not to talk to me like that,” added Gafford.

Representatives of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park say bears are highly active this time of year, trying to build up their fat for the winter.

“We ask that everyone dispose of their food scraps and trash appropriately. That’s going to do the most that you can to help us protect our bears,” said spokeswoman Dana Soehn.

To protect her car, Gafford says she will never leave her windows down again.

“And I would advise everybody else to do the same,” she said.

Park rangers say if you have a dangerous run-in with a bear, you’re asked to report every incident with rangers.

If you’d like to check and see if there are any temporary closures because of bear activity, you can visit the park’s website.

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