Thief with a conscience returns items stolen in Vail |

Thief with a conscience returns items stolen in Vail

Dustin Racioppi
Vail, CO colorado
NWS Stolen Skis DT 12-12-08

VAIL, Colorado ” It wasn’t that much of a surprise to Ned Churchill when he went to his car in the Riva Ridge parking garage Tuesday night and noticed all his skis “-four pairs ” were gone.

He’d left them in front of his car, almost begging to be lifted.

“We’ve done that a million times before, and we were foolish. That’s what ski lockers are for,” Churchill, 71, said. “I just said, ‘You stupid jerk, you’re just lazy to take your skis inside, and now you got stung.'”

He bought a new pair of Volkl Tiger Shark skis Wednesday morning to replace one of the pairs stolen. The other three pairs, he said, were old pieces of junk, and he wasn’t too concerned about them.

But when he returned to the parking garage, he entered into what he called a “Jimmy Stewart moment.” One pair of the skis that were stolen had been returned, and with a note attached.

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“I am the thief that took your skis last night. Lucky for you, today I decided I am better than that,” the note said.

Churchill at that point was not only surprised, but confused.

“It’s funny, you walk in there and say, ‘What’s going on here?'” he said. “You expect to see all four pair. And of course, the note explained.”

The note went on to say the rest of the skis were in the Dumpster shed behind Vail Chapel, along with some items stolen from other people, the note said. By the end of the day, Churchill had all his stuff back.

“Unfortunately, I bought a replacement pair of those (Tiger Shark) skis. Now I have two pairs of those skis,” he said. “My son, I think he’s real happy.”

The thief “-or ex-thief, as the note was signed “-said in the letter that he or she stole the skis to buy food. It added he or she was “drunk enough to lose my conscience, but it returned early today.”

This got Churchill and his friends curious, and even wanting to help this person “-who Churchill suspects is a man because of some of the language in the note.

“I’m sort of blown away by this ” religious in a way ” event,” he said. “I would really love to know, without prejudice, what his situation is. We’d like to reach out to this person.”

“His new life should be rewarded with at least a dinner,” Churchill added.

Churchill, a native of Pittsburgh, will be heading back home soon, but said he spends a lot of the ski season in Vail and would like to hear from the ex-thief at some point.

If not, at least he’s got a story to tell when somebody asks why he owns two pairs of Volkl Tiger Shark skis.

“It’s sort of the Christmas story of the year,” he said.

Dustin Racioppi can be reached at 970-748-2936 or

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