COPPER MOUNTAIN, Colo. (CBS4) – Two teens are facing serious charges after getting caught trying to steal multiple skis and snowboards. Police say it’s a very rare crime despite the numerous ski areas in Colorado.

Not only is it rare, but the suspects may not have been caught if it wasn’t for some quick thinking Air Force cadets.

The cadets were eating lunch while taking a break, so they did what nearly every skier or snowboarder does — simply left their equipment in the racks at the base area. But when they saw their boards being taken, they went after one of the suspects and tackled him until police came.

Police took an unnamed juvenile and Gunnar Thorngren, 18, into custody for allegedly tried to take more than a few skis and snowboards at Copper Mountain’s Central Village.

“The real story is the cadets from the Air Force Academy who were good enough to get involved and called 911,” said Steve Noreby, Copper Mountain Security Manager.

When Summit County sheriff deputies showed up to Copper, the two suspects were kept apart, and according to reports, not being very cooperative.

“Usually it’ll be one set of skis or one snowboard,” Tracy LeClair with the Summit County Sheriff’s Office said. “This happened to be four snowboards and one set of skis.”

gunnar thorngren Air Force Cadets Foil Attempt To Steal Skis, Snowboards

Gunnar Thorngren (credit: Summit County Sheriff’s Department)

“Their stories just didn’t match up so law enforcement deserves a lot of the credit in finding out when, where, what and who,” Noreby said.

The $3,700 worth of skis and snowboards that had simply been taken from the racks were hidden in an secluded area of the resort, but some distinctive marks were left behind.

“Both of the individuals were wearing shoes with very distinctive tread marks and those tread marks were found around the skis and snowboards that had been found subsequently abandoned,” LeClair said.

There are usually about 50 thefts reported each year in the county between four different resorts, but what makes this case even rarer is the size of the loot. Nobody CBS4 talked with could remember a case with more than one piece of equipment being stolen.

“The message is to really lock up the things that you have,” Noreby said. “That’s probably one of the biggest things that people don’t do at a ski resort … a $5 lock can really save a lot of heartache.”

Security at Copper Mountain and the sheriff’s office say they’ve tried to do sting operations in the past but never caught anyone.

Thorngren is facing a felony theft charge which could land him in prison for a few years.


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