By Matt Kroschel

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4)– It wasn’t a two-legged criminal who trashed a Subaru Outback in Steamboat Springs, but a four-legged creature that left behind a sight that is becoming more common in that area of Colorado.

A bear got inside Cate Potyen’s SUV with only 24,000 miles on it, and trashed the interior. The wild animal tore out the wiring from the dash, ripped out the side airbags, and clawed into the seat cushions, just some of the damage totaling $17,000 for repairs.

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“I couldn’t breathe. It was a big surprise and bad timing,” said Potyen. She and her husband are moving to California in a few weeks.

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Bears seem to have a learned or have a natural ability (the jury is still out) to open Subaru door handles. It seems their paws fit perfectly into the design of the handle.

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“It’s amazing what they can do once they get in. They get in and they get trapped, they don’t know how to get out and destroy a lot,” said Potyen.

In 2016, CBS4 introduced you to another Steamboat resident, Jessica Scroble, who also found out the hard way just how destructive bears could be once they get inside a car. Her Subaru was also trashed, the repairs totaling thousands of dollars.

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There have been dozens of others. From Aspen to Durango, bears attracted to parked cars by the smells of food. In the latest incident, what attracted the bear was a sugar-free mint container.

Wildlife managers say the best way to keep from becoming the next victim is to always lock your car and never leave any food inside.

Matt Kroschel covers news throughout Colorado working from the CBS4 Mountain Newsroom. Send story ideas to mrkroschel@cbs.com and connect with him on Twitter @Matt_Kroschel.

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