Skiers and snowboarders have wasted no time taking advantage of the fresh snow that has fallen on Steamboat, and thieves have wasted no time taking advantage of them.
Since the Steamboat Ski Area opened, three snowboards and a pair of snowboard boots have been stolen, Steamboat Springs police Sgt. Rich Brown said. Two of the boards were taken from Gondola Square while their owners were inside restaurants. The two other thefts were from vehicles.
And it's a crime that is likely to happen a hundred times more this season.
"It is really important when people put stuff in racks that they either lock it down or not leave it unattended," Brown said.
On Thursday, two snowboards were taken from Gondola Square. One theft occurred just before 3 p.m., after a rider left his Burton snowboard outside on a rack while he went inside The Gondola Pub and Grill to eat. The board was worth $700 to $800, Brown said.
At 4:24 p.m., anther board reportedly was stolen in Gondola Square. The owner went into the Bear River Bar and Grill to eat and returned to find it missing.
Early that day, police received a report that a Nitro snowboard was stolen from a car parked in the 3200 block of Aspen Wood Drive. A purse with money and a CD player reportedly also were taken from the car.
On Wednesday, a Colorado Mountain College student reported a pair of snowboard boots, along with 95 CDs and a down sleeping bag, were stolen from his car parked near Hill Hall.
Both types of thefts -- equipment being taken from the base of the ski area and from unlocked vehicles -- are common throughout the winter, Brown said.
"When you leave valuable things in your car and the car unlocked, then people take advantage of an opportunity and steal these items," Brown said.
Over the course of the season, Brown said, the police department typically sees more than 100 ski and snowboard thefts. They occur all season long, not just at the beginning of the year, he said.
Brown advises people to use the ski area's locked racks, the ski check-in area or buy a lock similar to those used for bikes. Another trick, which is not quite as effective in warding off a determined thief, is to split skis up on racks, Brown said.
Brown also asked that people remember the serial number of their skis or snowboards, which will make it easier to track the stolen equipment. The police can enter that serial number into a national and state database to look for matches or identify the board if it is later found.
"When we take a report, about 95 percent of the people have no idea what the serial number is," Brown said.
The police department has done sting operations -- leaving unlocked equipment in racks and waiting for "takers" -- in the past in hopes of catching the thieves; some have been successful.
Being in possession of stolen property is illegal, Brown said. He related a situation where, on opening day, a man noticed another skier using a pair of skis that were taken from him the previous spring.
The man with the skis said he had bought them from another man, who said he was leaving town. The skis were worth more than $1,000, and the man said he bought them for $250.
"If the deal sounds too good to be true, maybe there is a reason for that," Brown said.