gear thieves 

A little care could prevent your skis or board from being stolen By Christie Pashby There are few material things more valued in Whistler than ski and snowboard gear. Yet the unwritten rules of trust and loyalty in a resort town encourage locals and visitors alike to feel safe leaving their boards outside while they grab a coffee or an apres drink. But these rules get broken every day. Skis and boards are extremely easy to steal. Last week, a woman dropped by Whistler's Marketplace to pick up some groceries on her way home from snowboarding. She locked up her brand new $900 board outside with a cable lock and went shopping. A split second later, a thief had cut the lock, grabbed the board and walked away as if it was his own. "Just about every day someone gets ripped off," says Const. Warren Tomalty of the Whistler RCMP detachment. And the RCMP estimate that half of all thefts go unreported to police, making any chance of getting the gear back to its original owner virtually impossible. Most of the thefts don't take place outside the on-mountain lodges and restaurants these days. Whistler-Blackcomb has spent thousands of dollars installing surveillance cameras at places like the Roundhouse Lodge, Glacier Creek and Rendezvous. Video equipment will record any thefts and then be passed on to the RCMP to help them track down the stolen gear. As well, Ski Checks are located at the Roundhouse Lodge on Whistler Mountain, and at Blackcomb's Glacier Creek and Rendezvous lodges. They're a very safe, fool-proof way to keep track of your gear. It's also a good idea to check your skis if you don't have a lock and you're heading in for lunch. You can also leave them at the Store-A-Ski locations at the Blackcomb Day Lodge and at the Village Gondolas at the end of the day, to avoid the hassle and the risk of carrying your skis. Tomalty says co-operation between Whistler-Blackcomb and the RCMP has cut down thefts by 40 per cent in Whistler, while visitor numbers continue to grow. At any given time, there's up to eight RCMP officers patrolling the mountains. If your board gets stolen on the mountain, report it immediately to the closest Guest Relations office. They can quickly send out an all-mountain bulletin and it just may get returned to you before the day's over. The RCMP is now focusing its attention on thefts in the village area. While you're sitting in a bar enjoying some apres cheer, your skis or board may be sitting unlocked and unattended outside. People wouldn't dream of leaving their bike unlocked in downtown Vancouver but they'll leave their board unlocked in the crowded Whistler Village for hours. By the time they emerge from the bar a little confused about where they left their board, it may be gone for good. Snowboards are more attractive to thieves, Tomalty says, because the demand is higher and they're easier to resell. With a large market like Vancouver so close, Whistler boards can be resold within days and reused at resorts throughout the province. Tomalty says thieves often live in the local area and subsidize their income by stealing and reselling gear. Sometimes they'll get a special order for a certain style or make and cruise around until they find it. It's extremely easy for a thief to find a match and walk away like it's their own board. Other times, thieves may be locals who simply want to upgrade their gear for their own personal use. "Thieves are lazy," says Tomalty. "Put your skis in a high profile area, put a lock on them, keep your eyes on them. The odds of them being stolen will go way down." Another highly effective way to deter thieves and to assist in getting your board back if it does get stolen is to drop by one of the free ski engraving session the RCMP will be holding on the mountains throughout the winter. You'll get a SkiWatch sticker and your board or skis engraved with personal identification. Equipment that's properly identified and registered with police can be of great help. Not only will the logos discourage thieves, but if stolen, the police can use their nation-wide network and reward offers to track it down. The first of 22 RCMP SkiWatch engraving session of the season will be held at Blackcomb this Sunday, Dec. 6. Whistler Mountain will host a session on Dec. 13. There's a variety of ski and snowboard locks available at stores throughout the village. Tomalty says any type of lock is better than none. SkiKeys, umbilical chord-type locks and chain locks cost between $25 and $45 and are available at stores throughout Whistler. They're not bomb proof, though, so keep your eyes open.

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