Correction: The name of Richard Hill was corrected at 8:05 a.m.

If it's worth money, someone will try to steal it.

And when snowboards and skis go for upwards of several hundreds of dollars, they can make a convenient target for thieves who try to capitalize on the hustle and bustle of a ski area.

The Warren County Sheriff's Office has received five reports of stolen skis or snowboards from the two biggest ski areas in the county, West Mountain Ski Center in Queensbury and Gore Mountain. West has been open for less than three weeks so far this season.

As of the same time last year, the Sheriff's Office had received four such reports from the two mountains, three of them from West, said Undersheriff Robert Swan.

However, the two cases at Gore this season were actually situations in which skiers misplaced their equipment, and they were later reunited with their gear, said Gore general manager Mike Pratt.

The issue of ski and snowboard theft was highlighted recently by a series of letters-to-the-editor in The Post-Star that began with a family's complaint about a teenager's snowboard being stolen during an outing at West Mountain.

Richard Hill, retail manager at The Inside Edge, a Queensbury ski and bike shop, said one of the older tricks to secure skis was to separate them at a rack, to make it more difficult for a thief to find a match.

That can't be done with snowboards, so the easiest alternative for owners is to lock them to a ski rack.

Locks that can secure skis and snowboards to mountain racks cost $12 to $20.

The more inexpensive ones are small, retractable cord locks that can fit in a jacket pocket, he said.

"To leave it out on a rack for a short time, they're fine," Hill said.

The Inside Edge sold out of the locks last week, Hill said. He said mountains that offer night skiing seem to have more of a problem with theft.

Locks keep thieves from easily making off with equipment, but they can't stop theft completely, said Gary Higley, owner of The Sports Page in Queensbury.

"A lock is just a deterrent," he said.

Ski centers do different things to help skiers and boarders secure their belongings.

Two seasons ago, West Mountain installed surveillance cameras and a check-in window for equipment, at which it charged $1 to secure items.

It apparently has discontinued both. West Mountain owner Mike Barbone did not return a phone call for comment Monday.

Pratt said Gore has used surveillance cameras to watch over the ski storage area in the past but found maintaining the cameras was expensive and troublesome. The ski center sells locks. He said it "breaks your heart" to hear of equipment being stolen, but "personal accountability is most important."

At Washington County's lone ski center, Willard Mountain, owner Chic Wilson said he has not had any reports of skis or snowboards being stolen this season.

"Thankfully, it's pretty rare," he said.

(3) comments


THIS IS TRUELY SAD. back in the 70's and 80's we use to ski at west mt and hickory ski center and never had to worry about theft. times have changed.


Every day there is another good reason to ski Hickory.


Locks are cheap, some people are just to lazy to use them. Thieves have been stealing ski equipment forever. I still use the same lock I owned for 30 years with no problems.

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