Breckenridge ski thief gets 4-year deferred judgement and sentence
BRECKENRIDGE — Thomas Edward Yacko, 33, who was arrested earlier this year after stealing thousands in ski and snowboard equipment, received a four-year deferred judgment and sentence after pleading guilty last month to the thefts.
Breckenridge Police Department officers began investigating a number of ski and snowboard thefts at and around Breckenridge Ski Resort in January. As more reports started to roll in, detectives eventually took aim at Yacko, who was attempting to sell high-end skis on the secondary market.
Officers responded to a report of a theft at Beaver Run Resort in Breckenridge in late January after a man reported the Black Crow Camox Freebird touring skis he rented were stolen, according to police reports. In February, another person claimed their Atomic Bent Chetler skis were stolen from a locker room in The Maggie building.
On Feb. 27, officers made contact with an employee at the ski area who said Yacko approached him to try to sell him skis. According to the report, the man said Yacko showed him pictures of “a bunch of skis” and six to seven snowboards he was attempting to sell for $200. The man also said Yacko told him he had “been walking around town at night picking them up,” which Breckenridge police later called “a crime of opportunity.”
On March 6, an informant contacted Yacko and purchased a pair of Atomic Bent Chetler skis for $150, according to the report. The skis were positively identified as the same pair reported stolen in February.
Detective Justin Polidori, along with other Breckenridge officers, executed a search warrant on Yacko’s Breckenridge home March 18, recovering 10 pairs of skis, 10 snowboards, 13 sets of goggles, six pairs of snowboard bindings, eight pairs of gloves, three helmets and more. The Black Crow skis reported missing in January were among those recovered.
Yacko was arrested later that day at Beaver Run Resort, where he worked. During the arrest, officers discovered Yacko also had an active warrant for failure to appear on a previous traffic offense.
Yacko pleaded guilty to felony and misdemeanor theft charges and was sentenced by Judge Edward Casias last month. He received 15 days in jail on the misdemeanor charge and a four-year deferred judgment and sentence on the felony. Additionally, Yacko was ordered to pay more than $3,000 in assessed fines and costs and is required to perform 120 hours of public service.
District Attorney Bruce Brown said if crimes such as ski equipment theft continue to be an issue around the area, his office might begin slamming offenders with harsher punishments to deter others from committing similar crimes.
“These serial thefts appear to be a recurring problem,” Brown said. “Maybe the approach that I’ve taken in the past to resolving those cases, which is more of the holistic variety, needs to turn more punitive. I don’t have a lot of tools to deter crimes, but one of the tools that I have is if you commit a crime that is a recurring community issue, we need to hold you accountable for felony offenses and impose a more punitive jail sentence. That’s probably what you’re going to be seeing here in the coming weeks and months. Mr. Yacko’s more lenient sentence may be a thing of the past.”
Yacko addressed his involvement in the crimes directly in a letter to the editor he wrote the Summit Daily News earlier this month, apologizing for his actions and for damaging what he called the “culture of freedom” we enjoy in Summit County.
“For the community, I took the trust, safety and reputation offered in Summit County, and I broke it,” Yacko wrote. “That is something that cannot be measured in a financial amount, and I hope that my apologies will at least make an impact.”
Colleen Goettelman, a spokesperson with the Breckenridge Police Department, said the department already has returned most of the stolen equipment they were able to match with victims. For those who haven’t had their gear returned, there are other options.
The Fifth Judicial District Attorney’s Office offers compensation for victims through the Snow Sport Equipment Theft Restitution Fund, a program set up about six years ago as part of a settlement on a similar case. Individuals who have had snow sport equipment stolen in Summit, Clear Creek, Eagle and Lake counties and haven’t already received full compensation for their loss can apply through the District Attorney’s website, DA5.us. Brown said the fund has paid out about 25 claims this year, averaging about $400 each.
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