A group of friends hiking in Arctic Valley this week returned to find one of their vehicles riddled with bullet holes.

Kara Jones said the incident happened at the trailhead on Tuesday night.

A bullet hole in the back window of an SUV

Jones was hiking with her toddler and two of her friends when they heard several gunshots while they were up in the mountains.

“At first we thought it was a warning shot to scare off a bear,” Jones said.

A bullet hole on the inside of the vehicle.

Instead they found a window shot out of her friend’s SUV, with bullet holes in the doors on the driver’s side. Jones said nothing was taken from the vehicle -- not even a purse with a wad of cash inside.

“We were the last car there and we think it was stupid kids playing target practice, basically,” Jones said.

APD spokeswoman Renee Oistad said police took a report that the vehicle's driver had "found it full of bullet holes" just after 10:30 p.m. Tuesday.

"Officers responded and found five bullet holes on the driver’s side of the Toyota SUV," Oistad wrote in an email.

The Arctic Valley Ski Area’s general manager, John Robinson-Wilson, said it hasn’t had the “smash and grab” problem other trailheads have seen because staff are there most of the day. In addition, the military closes the road at 10 p.m. every night.

There’s a security camera on the ski area's chalet, but it’s aimed at the ski lifts.

“We’re going to look at pointing a couple of web cameras toward the parking lot. i don’t know if that will work but it’s something we’ll take a look at,” Robinson-Wilson said.

Trail users say they take precautions before heading out for a hike, like hiding their valuables and locking their car. But they say an incident like this can happen to anyone.

“It’s scary because it’s so uncontrollable,” said Corrie Whitmore from Anchorage. ”There’s nothing you can do to prevent vandalism or damage to your vehicle.”

Jones said the hikers are waiting to hear from their insurance company on what damage might be covered. She said they don’t plan to stop hiking but will go during peak times of the day.

“Go earlier in the afternoon or the evening instead of being the last car left,” she advised.

Anyone with information on the gunfire that damaged the SUV is asked to call APD at 311.

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