Whistler Blackcomb sleuths are now convinced that just a couple of thieves are targeting the mountains and are responsible for the majority of ski and snowboard thefts.
“I really do believe it is a couple of bad apples,” said Kevin Rea, security and loss prevention manager for Whistler Blackcomb.
“We have seen that before with bicycle thefts in Whistler. There was quite a rash a few years back and it ended up being two people… and I think this is the same kind of program.”
The observation comes partly out of the ski bait program Whistler Blackcomb launched at the beginning of the season. As soon as the program was up and running the number of thefts went down, but thefts have since risen back to previous levels.
Rea would not say how many thefts take place but even one is not acceptable.
“It can ruin a vacation or a weekend and we just don’t think it is an acceptable experience for a resort,” said Rea.
“We want to drive it out of here.”
Mountain security staff now place bait skis and snowboards randomly in mountain storage racks. Then, working undercover, they watch and wait.
“At this point in time we haven’t had any bites, but a lot of observations have been made and we feel we are getting close to having some success,” said Rea.
“We are actively pursuing this on a daily basis and watching. It is basically like fishing – there is a lot of patience involved.
“We are going to be diligent until we get our guy here.”
Rea advises that all skiers and boarders lock their equipment up if they plan to leave it alone or use on-mountain storage. People should also have a good description of what they own and the serial numbers.
“You wouldn’t leave most things sitting on the curb but people will leave a thousand dollar board leaning up against the racks with no lock,” he said.
Local RCMP is fully behind the program.
“We fully endorse something like this because it is only helping to solve crime,” said RCMP Constable Yakub Afzeel.
“We work with the Mountains on it, in that we are the ones responding to the actual arrests when they have to be made. “So it is definitely a useful program and we are glad that they are doing it.”
Anyone caught stealing gear will be dealt with by the RCMP and will loose all skiing privileges for three years on Whistler Blackcomb.