Boulder man pleads guilty to stealing more than 70 pairs of skis
BRECKENRIDGE — Jason Kawaguchi, a Boulder man accused of stealing more than 70 pairs of skis from Summit County and other areas around the state, has pleaded guilty to felony theft.
Kawaguchi appeared virtually alongside his attorney Thursday, May 28, for a disposition hearing in front of Fifth Judicial District Judge Karen Romeo and accepted a plea agreement in the case.
Kawaguchi was arrested in June 2019 after a deputy with the Summit County Sheriff’s Office witnessed him stealing a pair of skis from Arapahoe Basin Ski Area. A subsequent investigation revealed that he perpetrated a much more robust string of thefts throughout the state.
On June 1, Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to A-Basin on a report of stolen skis, according to court documents. The resort was able to provide video surveillance of the incident, which showed the victim putting down their skis on a rack outside of the Kids Center early that morning. About half an hour later, the footage showed an unknown man, later identified as Kawaguchi, take the skis and place them into a ski bag. The resort’s security team searched the area in an attempt to find him and later contacted law enforcement when they were unsuccessful.
Trouble at the ski area picked up again June 23, when deputies were informed of several new thefts. A member of the ski area’s security team told police that he spotted a suspicious man while patrolling the upper High Noon parking lot, noting that he saw the man get out of his truck without skis, leave the area and return about 15 minutes later with a pair in hand. The witness said the man again left his car and returned later with another pair of skis.
The security guard didn’t confront the man because he left the area to investigate other reports of ski thefts, though he did take down the man’s license plate number, which became useful to police later in the investigation. The guard later informed police that four individuals reported their skis stolen that day during a half-hour period between about 10-11:30 a.m.
Using the license plate number, police were able to match a photo of Kawaguchi, the car’s registered owner, with the surveillance footage captured June 1.
Kawaguchi saved law enforcement officers the trouble of tracking him down. On June 29, members of A-Basin’s security team informed deputies that he was again spotted at the resort. A deputy already at the ski area witnessed Kawaguchi stealing a pair of skis, and arrested him on the spot.
The Boulder County Sheriff’s Office later conducted a search of Kawaguchi’s residence and discovered 74 pairs of skis, including some already being investigated as part of the A-Basin string of thefts. Deputies also recovered several believed to be stolen from Eldora Mountain, just southwest of Nederland.
Kawaguchi was charged with felony theft last year. He pleaded guilty to class 5 felony theft during the hearing Thursday. While he wasn’t sentenced during the hearing, the plea agreement did stipulate that he’d avoid prison time, according to officials.
Romeo scheduled Kawaguchi’s sentencing hearing for July 15.
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