Sting averts snowboard swipe |

Sting averts snowboard swipe

Two Sierra-at-Tahoe employees lost their jobs Saturday and one is facing possible criminal charges in connection with an undercover sting operation.

El Dorado County Sheriff’s deputies placed a relatively new snowboard out near the lodge area around noon as bait. Detective Tim Mazzoni said that after an hour of watching, the officers noticed two males looking at the board. The men left, then came back and looked at the board again. One of the men took the board and both quickly started for the employee locker area.

Robert Houghton, 34, and Lucian Loebes, 19, were detained by officers before they entered the locker area. Loebes reportedly told police that he’d known Houghton for about two weeks and Houghton asked him to take the board for him and meet him in the locker room.

Houghton said he thought the board belonged to Sierra-at-Tahoe and he was going to return it to the snowboard shop. Houghton, a janitor at the ski resort, claimed that he was just a concerned employee, police said.

Houghton was booked into the El Dorado County Jail on suspicion of grand theft and possession of stolen property. Loebes was not cited in the incident.

Mazzoni said Saturday was just the first of many sting operations the department will conduct at both Sierra and Heavenly ski resorts this ski season. Mazzoni recommended skiers and snowboarders use the ski check areas offered at both resorts and never leave equipment unattended.

Nancy Harrison, spokesperson for Sierra-at-Tahoe, said the resort wants people to be aware that thefts occur.

“We’re making an effort to be proactive in deterring theft,” Harrison said. “We have increased our capacity in the ski check area and it’s a more efficient system than last season. We also have a visible presence of security staff in security uniforms. We feel this is a step in the right direction.”

Harrison added that all employees go through background checks before hire.

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