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Ward off ski thieves with these simple tricks

Martin Rupf
Zurich, on 22.02.2022

How frustrating! After enjoying a hot drink in the mountain restaurant, you’re looking forward to one last run down the slopes. But your skis aren’t there. They’ve been stolen. Find out how to make lives difficult for ski stealers.

«Honey, since when have you been using Atomic?» I ask my wife, staring incredulously at her skis as we ride the chairlift together. Indeed, although identical in colour and size, those aren’t hers. The similarity might explain why my wife’s been oblivious to the fact that she’s been speeding down slopes on someone else’s skis for the last few hours. After our lunch break at the mountain restaurant, she accidentally strapped on the wrong pair. As soon as the mix-up comes to light, she returns the «borrowed» skis and exchanges them for her own. They were still in the ski rack where she left them, much to her relief.

We can only imagine the look on the owner’s face after realising that their skis were gone. Hopefully, that person realised they were put back later on. Unfortunately, missing skis aren’t normally down to mix-ups but theft. Just recently, there was a case in Davos where a woman stole several pairs of skis and tried to sell them online.

However, one of the robbed individuals came across her skis on an internet platform. Shortly after, the police was knocking on the thief’s door.

Skis even removed from car roof racks

Sadly, ski thefts aren’t isolated cases. Although most of them are stolen by casual thieves, cases of organised ski theft have also been reported. A few years ago, Graubünden’s border patrol officers were surprised to count more pairs of skis than passengers after stopping a coach full Italian skiers on their way home. It seems that some of the skiers had used a day trip to St Moritz to stock up on equipment.

It’s unclear how many skis are stolen in Switzerland each year because of the high number of unreported cases. Insurance company Axa evaluated ski thefts in the years 2008 to 2019. It also determined where thieves are most active; namely in large ski resorts, such as Davos, Zermatt or Arosa. Axa’s media office said: «Several hundred ski thefts are reported to us every year.» Yet insurance experts assume that several thousand skis are stolen in Switzerland every year. According to the price comparison provider Comparis, this causes over a million francs in damage in Switzerland every year. Interestingly, nowhere near all skis are pinched from outside mountain restaurants or valley stations. According to Axa’s evaluation, one in seven pairs of skis are taken from cellars or garages. There have even been cases where skis were removed from car racks. Of course, you can get theft insurance for your skis. But the truth is that you’re unlikely to make it past the deductible. What’s more, there’s the emotional loss you suffer. Like when someone’s nicked your bike.

Roof racks aren’t always a safe place for skis.
Roof racks aren’t always a safe place for skis.

Thieves are rarely caught

It’s rare for stolen skis to reappear, or for the thieves to be busted. «Investigations against parties that are often unknown is very difficult for various reasons,» says Isabelle Wüthrich, media spokeswoman for the Bern cantonal police. Firstly, thefts – which amount to around 150,000 francs in damage each year in the canton of Bern alone – are often only reported after the fact. This could be hours or even days after the crime. «Secondly, the owners can often only provide sparse information about their equipment, such as the serial number.» Accordingly, the number of cases that are solved is in the low single digits.

Hack: park your skis separately

So how do you protect yourself against theft? «The only way to ensure 100 per cent protection is not to go skiing,» says Markus Walser, media spokesman for the Graubünden cantonal police. He’s the man who receives almost 200 reports of ski theft every season. «When you park your skis, there’s always a certain residual risk that they’re not found again.» One way to avoid this is to deposit your skis in plain sight. «Another option is to mark the skis really loudly and to make sure the marking is hard to remove,» says Walser. Lockable ski racks or ski lockers are also a great way to keep your equipment safe. In the new Grindelwald terminal, for example, Jungfrau Railway provides ski lockers for its guests. «Ski parking areas are also available at the stations or at the restaurants,» says Kathrin Naegeli, media spokeswoman at Jungfrau Railway. «It’s the same as with any other sports equipment that’s left in public spaces: owners are liable for the safe storage of their skis/snowboard.»

If there aren’t any lockers, you can also use a small lock to provide a certain level of security.

There’s also a very simple yet effective trick to make things difficult for thieves: always park your skis separately. After all, it’s unlikely that a thief will take the time to find the matching part.

If you follow all these tips, chances are good that après-ski won’t turn into sans-ski or, worst case, end up in you having to buy back your beloved equipment on a sales platform at an astronomical price.

5 tips to protect your ski gear from theft

1. Lock away skis and snowboards overnight.

2. Tie your skis or snowboard to a ski rack with a lock, or use lockable ski racks.

3. Don’t leave skis and snowboards unattended for long periods of time.

4. Always park your skis separately: thieves don’t have the time to look for the second one.

5. Mark your skis or snowboard in a special way. This minimises the risk of a mix-up – and slashes their resale price.

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Half-Danish dad of two and third child of the family, mushroom picker, angler, dedicated public viewer and world champion of putting my foot in it.

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