Guard your winter sports gear to avoid ski theft in Eagle County this winter | VailDaily.com

Guard your winter sports gear to avoid ski theft in Eagle County this winter

Elise Reuter
news@summitdaily.com

BRECKENRIDGE — A pair of Volkl Mantra skis disappeared from a Breckenridge ski concierge in November 2015. The following day, a man returned to his car to notice his Rossignol Super Seven skis had been swiped. Earlier this week, a resident in Summit Cove caught a thief stealing a snowboard from his mud room on a concealed camera, only to identify the culprit within hours thanks to a post on Facebook.

In 2015, Breckenridge police responded to three reported thefts between Thanksgiving and Christmas, with equipment being swiped from ski racks at the base, unlocked cars and even hotels and condos, and in May, a man was pulled over by police on Interstate 70 in Wolcott and a search of his truck unearthed 12 pairs of skis, 14 snowboards and more than 15 pairs of snowsports boots, along with hundreds of other items, including helmets, coats, goggles, gloves and other clothing, much of which had been reported stolen from various Eagle County sports rental shops and hotels.

Theft is a reality

With ski season nearly upon us, equipment thefts both on and off the slopes are a reality of living and playing in Eagle and Summit counties. The in-home theft at Summit Cove, while not unheard of, was more brash than most.

"They fill out witness statements for us, and it gets entered into online crime reporting," said John Minor, former Summit County Sheriff and current Silverthorne Chief of Police, about the process law enforcement goes through to recover stolen winter sports gear. "Unfortunately, a lot of people don't have suspects or serial numbers."

The numbers tend to ramp up as the season progresses, with crooks keeping an eye open for the more high-end models. In 2014, newer models of Volkl skis disappeared off the racks.

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"If you know you have the more desirable makes and models of ski equipment, it's probably a good idea to have a lock," Breckenridge Police Department officer Caitlin Kontak said.

While keeping tabs on a serial number can help track stolen skis resold at pawnshops or through retail, sales through online outlets such as Craigslist or eBay remain unchecked. In one case, a man sold several stolen skis in Canada — equally difficult to trace.

With a bit of luck, officers may sometimes catch skis or snowboards reported stolen in a traffic stop.

"If we see someone walking to their car with two snowboards and no one else around, we approach them," Kontak said.

Security might also take note if the size of the snowboard does not match the height of the owner; for example, a 6-foot man carrying a 135-centimeter board.

"We had a guy who tried to walk out of a rental store with a shopping cart full of skis without paying for them," Kontak said.

Suspicious SWAP

A large number of ski theft reports stem from ski swaps — the term law enforcement and on-mountain security use to describe an accidental theft — especially when stores rent out multiple skis of the same model.

"Then, you have someone who has their skis stolen, and someone who thinks they're returning their rental skis," Minor said.

Eventually, the remaining pair is discovered and sorted out between rental stores, but a ski swap can appear to be a theft, as the renter is still accountable.

Breckenridge police administrative supervisor Colleen Goettelman encouraged skiers to use locks in protecting their equipment and keep cars and ski racks locked tight. If a lock isn't available, then separating a pair of skis and putting them on different racks may deter thieves.

"At the end of the day, I lock my equipment in my car," Arapahoe Basin Ski Area spokeswoman Adrienne Saia Isaac said. "Having a lock on your car, or having a locker, are the two tried-and-true ways of keeping your skis safe."

She added that A-Basin has several large ski lockers available below the rental shop. They can be rented out for the day or for the season, which is the case at most ski resorts in Summit and Eagle counties.

Finally, keeping record of equipment serial numbers can help identify the gear in case it is turned in to the resort or recovered by police.

Copper Mountain security manager Bryon Colvin said the resort has installed a few new cameras in the base area to help identify thieves. As of Christmas 2015, the resort had not seen many incidents of theft.

"We're pretty much on par," Colvin said. "We had a couple that were misplaced but haven't had a lot of thefts."

Copper Mountain pubic relations manager Stephanie Sweeney said that once a theft is reported, security will search the area and look through security camera footage. Lost and found is also alerted, and a record of all missing items is kept by security to return it to the owner with the help of the sheriff's office.

Report a theft

Ski theft reports in Summit County may be filed through the Summit County Sheriff’s Office website, and in Eagle County, call the Sheriff’s Office at 970-328-8500. If you witness a theft, submit a tip to Eagle County Crime Stoppers at 970-328-7007 or 800-962-TIPS.