Elemetary, dude! Owner nabs thiefs on slopes | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Elemetary, dude! Owner nabs thiefs on slopes

Bob Daly made some strange friends at Heavenly Ski Resort Saturday.

After learning that 15 to 20 people had stolen five snowboards from his store, Daly found himself skiing alongside the alleged thieves.

With his help the South Lake Tahoe Police arrested Steve Hans, 21, of Pleasanton Calif., and Dean Kabiling, 27, of Union City, Calif., and detained 14 others in connection with the burglary Saturday night.

According to police, a large group of people, including Hans and Kabilling, entered Trinity Snowboards, at 1060 Ski Run Blvd., shortly before 11 a.m., and created such a distraction they were able to take five Burton snowboards valued at $500 each.

“We have a very small store, so 20 people pretty much overwhelm our shop,” said Jean Monsanto, who was working at the store during the theft.

“They did kind of a smokescreen effect by renting equipment and asking us all these stupid questions,” she said.

Monsanto said she didn’t learn of the theft until someone from nearby Mack’s Ski Rentals came in to congratulate them after seeing a man and a woman carry two snowboards out of the shop.

“He said ‘Wow, you had a good day. You sold two boards.’ I was just dumbfounded,” Monsanto said. “We didn’t find out until they were recovered that five boards had been stolen.”

The Mack’s employee described some of the suspects and the three cars they used.

Monsanto was confident the group had gone to Heavenly, and was able to give police some of their identities. “Some of them rented equipment. We had their names, their credit card numbers, their phone numbers. We had everything,” she said.

The initial plan was to confront the group when the equipment was returned, but when Daly called from the mountain and learned of the theft he decided to look for them.

“In the back of my mind I thought there’s no chance in hell we’re going to find them,” Daly said. “I pretty much skied right to them. It was within minutes.”

Daly talked with several people in the group and followed them for much of the afternoon, leaving occasionally to speak with the police and Heavenly security about their location.

“At one point I went and stood among the group … and I overheard them boasting about the stuff they took from the store,” Daly said. “My biggest problem was keeping my mouth shut … But for once I succeeded.”

South Lake Tahoe Police Sgt. Steve O’Brien said, “Daly’s alert and immediate response probably saved the day.”

In addition to the description made by the Mack’s employee, O’Brien credits Daly’s information and cooperation by the different law enforcement agencies with the arrests.

The El Dorado County Sheriff’s and Heavenly Security did a great job,” he said.

At the end of the day, as the group moved into the parking lot, they were greeted by waiting police. They were identified by Monsanto. Police found three of the snowboards in one car and two in another.

One of the men arrested said he was solely responsible for stealing the snowboards. The other was arrested for having stolen property in his car. O’Brien said it is impossible to prove the other people in the store knew the theft was taking place.

Police also found marijuana in each of the cars and arrested four people for drug possession.

“They thought they were pulling a fast one on us, but they didn’t know what a tight community this is,” Monsanto said.

“There was nothing my staff could have done (to prevent the theft). If I was there the same thing would have happened,” Daly said. “It was really cool how everyone came together. I felt loved by the community.”

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