Resort makes it tough for snowboard bandits |

Resort makes it tough for snowboard bandits

William Ferchland

It’s always a bit unnerving walking away from your precious pair of skis or a slick snowboard to rest a bit in the lodge.

But so far this year snow sliders can rest a bit easier thanks to an increased security presence to thwart the intentions of thieves at two South Shore ski resorts.

“If people are eyeballing the resorts they better think twice because the apprehension rates for both resorts are pretty high so they better be prepared to be arrested and go to jail,” said El Dorado County sheriff’s Sgt. Don Atkinson.

At Sierra-at-Tahoe, 10 thefts have occurred since the resort opened Oct. 29 and each time the suspects were apprehended, said spokeswoman Nicole Belt. Eight had snowboards while two took skis.

“We’ve caught more thieves and recovered more equipment this year than we have in the past,” Belt said.

Part of the solution is a new $10,000 security system that uses 16 cameras able to zoom and freeze on a potential thief. If a theft is recorded, the images can be burned to a disc and used during the court process.

“With the new surveillance system we’ve been able to make more arrests because we have proof it happens,” Belt said.

El Dorado County Assistant District Attorney Hans Uthe said the images will be useful during the prosecution of a ski or snowboard theft, usually considered a grand theft since the gear is usually more than $400.

Grand theft has a maximum punishment of a year in state prison or county jail.

“It’ll help immensely because most of the time when skis or snowboards are stolen there’s generally no idea who did it,” Uthe said.

During the last seven days of December, starting on Christmas Eve and running until New Year’s Eve, Sierra is sponsoring a “Loss Prevention Week.”

Besides promoting locker checks and keeping gear in locked cars, about a dozen staff members will place cards on unattended skis and boards letting the owners know their equipment could have been stolen.

Belt said the days were picked since people might have new gear received from the holidays.

Deputies have also increased their patrols at the two resorts, Atkinson said.

“We try to get up to those areas as often as possible,” he said.

– E-mail William Ferchland at

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