Breck police are going incognito on the slopes to stop ski pass fraud |

Breck police are going incognito on the slopes to stop ski pass fraud

BRECKENRIDGE – As far as Breckenridge Ski Resort – and the law – is concerned, using someone else’s ski pass is like shoplifting.

But there are plenty of people who don’t think so. There are 49 since Nov. 1, in fact. That’s how many people Breckenridge police have cited this ski season using a new provision of the town code that covers ski pass fraud.

Recognizing that season pass fraud – a daughter using a mom’s Buddy Pass, a coworker borrowing a cubicle-mate’s Colorado Card, for example – was a problem, the resort approached the town about clarifying its code. Breckenridge’s municipal code features a statute for “unlawful use of a ski area facility.” The code already covered such things as clipping lift tickets in the parking lot and sneaking past ticket scanners onto lifts.

This year, police officers are enforcing the code by hanging out near liftlines. The off-duty officers don resort-issue jackets to cover up their badges and guns and hang out waiting for lifties to tip them off to people using passes they didn’t buy.

Anyone caught using a season pass under false pretenses is issued a misdemeanor ticket. Under the code, in-state residents cited for the crime must appear in court; out-of-state visitors can resolve the infraction via mail. As a misdemeanor, the violation carries a fine up to $1,000 and up to a year in jail. To this point, the town’s municipal judge hasn’t levied any jail time, and fines have been in the $250-$300 range.

The resort also revokes the pass, so whoever it belonged to loses, as well. That passholder can only get a new pass by paying the full $999 pass price.

Officers said Friday they’ve been surprised by defrauders’ daring at times – men using women’s passes, or a person claiming they took the wrong pass by mistake. Some have even claimed to have stolen the pass from an unknowing friend, only to learn from officers that would mean filing a theft report or a much more serious charge of false reporting.

“Most of them have a deer-in-the-headlights kind of look when it happens,” said Breckenridge Police Community Service Officer Amy Nordeen. “We tell them to spread the word, because this is serious.”

The officers who participate benefit even though they’re off-duty. If they put in 16 hours of enforcement in the project, the resort provides them with a ski pass. Lift-line pass-scanners have financial incentives to tip off the officers to pass fraud.

Breckenridge Resort spokeswoman Dawn Doty said the crime isn’t cutting into the ski area’s bottom line, but the company “has to run a business.

“We don’t want to play bad cop,” Doty said. “But if someone paid $65 for a ticket or if someone bought a season pass and is using it properly, it’s not fair to them. And when you think about it, skiing on a season pass is pretty inexpensive over a season.”

Officers will continue the sting through the end of the ski season on a semi-regular schedule.

The Summit County Sheriff’s Office also enforces pass fraud at Keystone and Copper Mountain resorts. Capt. Derek Woodman said such enforcement isn’t planned on a regular schedule and depends on deputies’ availability.

“When the problem gets bad and they say something about it, we get on it,” he said.

Reid Williams can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 237, or

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