Breckenridge police: Ski gear theft usually a ‘crime of opportunity’
The suspect involved in a string of ski and snowboard thefts in Breckenridge over recent months has been identified as 32-year-old Thomas Edward Yacko.
The Breckenridge Police Department has been investigating a number of ski and snowboard thefts that began to pop up in late January for several weeks, according to police reports. On Jan. 23, the department responded to a cold theft call at Breckenridge Ski Resort after a victim reported a pair of Black Crow skis he rented was stolen from a locker room at the Beaver Run Resort.
Officers responded to another theft on Feb. 25, after a victim reported that a pair of his Atomic skis was taken from the locker room in The Maggie at the base of Peak 9. According to officials with the Breckenridge Police Department, these types of crimes typically come in streaks.
“Being a ski resort community, it would stand to reason we would see this type of ‘crime of opportunity’, although it is tough to gauge commonality,” wrote Deric Gress, assistant chief of police at Breckenridge, in an email exchange with the Summit Daily. “It usually comes in waves of events.”
By the end of February, the investigation started to make headway. On Feb. 27 Breckenridge officers spoke with an individual who worked with Yacko, who lives in the town. According to the arrest affidavit, the man told police that Yacko approached him to show him pictures of skis and snowboards on his phone, which appeared to be leaned up against a residential wall — some with shop stickers still on them. Yacko allegedly told the man he was trying to sell the skis for $200 a pair, and that he had “been walking around town at night picking them up” when people left them.
On March 6, an “informant” made contact with Yacko and purchased a pair of Atomic skis from him for $150, according to the report. After the purchase by the informant, the skis were positively identified as the ones reported stolen on Feb. 25.
Officers with the Breckenridge Police Department later executed a search warrant on Yacko’s Atlantic Lode Road residence in Breckenridge on March 18, recovering 10 pairs of skis, 10 snowboards, 13 sets of goggles, six pairs of snowboard bindings, eight pairs of high-priced gloves, three helmets, a bag of uphill skins and several poles, according to a release from the department.
The preliminary estimated value of the stolen property was between $5,000 and $10,000. Most of the thefts are currently believed to have occurred in the Peak 9 area of Breckenridge Ski Resort. Loryn Roberson, a spokewoman with Breckenridge Resort, said that the resort has a dedicated security team that is cooperating with the police department on the investigation.
Officers made contact with Yacko and took him into custody later that day. During his arrest, officers also discovered that Yacko had an outstanding warrant for failure to appear in court on a previous traffic offense. Yacko has been charged with class 6 felony theft, a designation for those accused of stealing between $2,000 and $5,000 worth of goods — determined by the initial expected value of the reported stolen property. Additionally, Yacko was charged with failure to appear.
Yacko was released on a $2,000 bond and is set to return for an appearance on bond in county court on April 24.
Gress said that several victims have already been identified since the arrest, and that about 80 percent of the skis and snowboards have been matched with their previous owners, though the department is still making follow-up calls to track down the rest of the victims. The case is still under investigation and the department is asking anyone who believes they may be a victim, or anyone with additional information on the case to call the department at 970-453-2941.
“These types of crimes usually are crimes of opportunity,” said Gress. “Laying down and propping up skis, snowboards or equipment and walking away is usually when the criminal will take his or her opportunity. Just like your house, car or purse, it is best to be vigilant of your surroundings and lock them up whenever possible.”
The police department is advising individuals to keep their equipment locked up or to leave them at a check or valet service provided by ski areas. Alternatively, the department suggests keeping gear separate if there’s no opportunity to lock it up.
“I want to thank the community, businesses and organization that have been diligent in providing the investigators with pertinent information that helped to solve this and other similar cases,” said Gress.
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