eBay used to catch ski-theft suspect
A Park City Police Department sergeant sat at her computer recently, trying to buy a pair of skis on Internet auction house eBay.
But Annette Ellis was not looking for some rock skis she was investigating a report that a pair of skis stolen in Park City was for sale on eBay.
Her investigation, which included bidding on the skis, resulted in the arrest of a juvenile in Utah County, who was referred to juvenile court.
Because the suspect is a juvenile, the police are not releasing his name or other information about him. But the police said the suspect was involved in the theft of 15 pairs of skis and five snowboards in the Park City area in recent weeks. Ellis said the juvenile admitted to the 20 cases.
The equipment’s estimated value is up to $15,000, according to the police.
A person whose skis were stolen tipped off the police. The man told the police that he was confident that his stolen skis, made by Rossignol, were for sale on eBay.
"He saw them. They were the same length. They were the same bindings," Ellis said. "He knew those were his skis."
The police subpoenaed records from eBay to find out who the seller was but the company had not responded by Monday, Ellis said. Instead, Ellis posed as a potential buyer of the skis, using her personal eBay account to bid on them.
"We could get the information eventually but the auction was going to end," she said about the subpoenaed eBay records.
She said the bidding was hot at the end and she put in several bids in the final few minutes of the auction. Her final bid, for $700, won the auction.
"I found out who the seller was by winning the skis," she said.
Police Department detectives contacted the suspect and his parents on Sunday. He was referred to juvenile court on several counts of theft, Ellis said.
eBay appears to be a popular place to sell skis, with 4,375 items listed Monday afternoon under the search term ‘skis.’ People were selling skis as well as skiing-related collectibles.
The victim whose skis were found online reported that his skis were stolen on Jan. 7, the police said. In a Sunday statement, the Police Department said that the victim on Jan. 8 told the police that he found the skis for sale on eBay.
After the auction, detectives went to the suspect’s residence. There, the police found six sets of skis that the authorities say were stolen. The suspect is cooperating with the police as detectives try to find the owners of the stolen skis.
The police are asking people whose skis were stolen recently but did not report the case to contact the Police Department at 615-5500. Ellis said she hopes the eBay case discourages people from stealing skis.
Meanwhile, the Police Department provides a free registration program for skis and snowboards. The police say that registered equipment is easier to track by the authorities. Registration is available on the weekends at Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley Resort or at the Police Department during business hours.
The Police Department frequently receives reports of stolen skis and snowboards but the incidents usually seem to be isolated or involve someone who forgot where they put their equipment.
Last week, the police handled a series of such calls in both the Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley Resort areas. On Jan. 15 at 4:40 p.m., a pair of skis was reported stolen in the PCMR area and on Jan. 14 at 12:59 p.m., skis were reported stolen in the Deer Valley area. At least three other such cases were reported last week.
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