Skis remain hot target for thieves
Thieves struck Park City as huge holiday crowds arrived, the Park City Police Department reports, leaving some of the vacationers in their clunky ski boots instead of on skis.
The police received a run of complaints that people’s skis were stolen over the past two weeks, not a terribly unusual crime rash in Park City but one that the local authorities and the mountain resorts have tried to combat.
In Park City, the Police Department has received complaints from Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley Resort. The string started just before Christmas.
Some of the complaints to the police included a stolen snowboard the afternoon of Dec. 23 on the 1300 block of Lowell Avenue, where PCMR is located, and stolen skis on the 2200 block of Deer Valley Drive, in the vicinity of Deer Valley Resort. In recent days, a few more cases were reported to the police.
The police usually classify ski thefts as being valued at more than $200. The losses include the values of the skis and the bindings, and $200 is generally a conservative estimate of the value of the equipment.
"A lot of times, they’ll just stick them in a snow bank somewhere and make for easy pickings," says Rick Ryan, a Police Department lieutenant, describing skis like those as "an easy target."
He says the skis and bindings are typically valued at around $1,000. If the equipment is valued at between $1,000 and $5,000, prosecutors can charge a person with a third-degree felony. Stealing equipment valued at between $300 and $1,000 can bring a class A misdemeanor charge.
Ryan says the latest string of reported ski thefts is not out of the ordinary for a busy part of the ski season.
He says skiers can combat the thieves by using cable locks or by putting the skis in different places when they take them off.
"Generally, if the skis are separated, it’s a little more difficult," Ryan says about thieves taking them.
He praises the local ski resorts for providing what he describes as secure ski corrals, where people can check their skis in rather than leaving them outside.
"Locking them up and securing the skis is the absolute best way," he says about preventing ski thefts.
Most thefts occur in plaza areas on the lower part of a resort, where the skis can more easily be taken off the slopes, Ryan says. At PCMR, he says, skis are most frequently stolen at the Resort Center. Thieves most often strike Deer Valley outside Snow Park Lodge and outside Silver Lake Lodge, he says.
"They do target specific brands. It just depends on what brand is popular," Ryan says. "They’re going after the newer stuff."
Meanwhile, the Police Department offers a ski-registration program, in which the department records the serial number, make and model and owner’s name and contact information, similar to a bicycle-registration program that the police provide.
registering the skis, the police say, they can be traced back to an owner if they are stolen and then recovered. The number of skis registered in the program is not immediately available. The police have offered the program for at least six years. The registrations are free. For more information about the program, contact the police at 615-5500.
The most recent series of thefts follows about a year after a highly publicized bust by the police of a suspect in an earlier string of skis disappearing.
In January 2006, the police arrested a juvenile in Utah County who was a suspect in 15 ski thefts and five snowboard thefts. The police at the time said the person admitted taking the skis and snowboards but little information about the person was released because the suspect was a juvenile.
In that case, the police said the equipment was valued at up to $15,000. The police said they solved that case after a man, whose skis had been stolen, found skis similar to his for sale on eBay, the Internet auction house.
A Police Department sergeant posed as a potential buyer, bid for the skis and, after having to put in several bids in the final few minutes, won the auction, with a bid of $700.
The police found the person and referred him to juvenile court on theft counts.
"He saw them. They were the same length. They were the same bindings. He knew those were his skis," Annette Ellis, the sergeant, said shortly after the case.
The three local mountain resorts provide some measures to thwart thefts, resort officials say.
Deer Valley provides free daytime ski storage at its three lodges, Snow Park, Silver Lake and Empire. The resort provides free overnight storage at Snow Park and Silver Lake.
PCMR offers people free daytime storage at a valet service at the bottom of the Payday lift, the key route up the resort.
At The Canyons, the resort provides ski lockers at the forum, the resort’s lower base area. There are no such facilities at Red Pine, the mid-mountain area of The Canyons.
Libby Dowd, a spokesperson for The Canyons, says it is more difficult for thieves to steal skis there than it is elsewhere since someone might have to travel down the Flight of The Canyons gondola and on a people mover known as a cabriolet before reaching the parking lot with the loot.
She says the resort is aware of four reports of stolen skis during the current ski season.
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As Deer Valley starts talks with the Park City Planning Commission about a large development proposal at Snow Park, called Snow Park Village, the resort has identified the possibility a gondola as a traffic-fighting measure.