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You’re stopped off at a restaurant on the mountain and might be wondering why there is a sea of skis and snowboards outside. Is this safe? Why would you leave hundreds of dollars worth of kit lying around? How do you know which one is yours?
The truth is that it’s not entirely safe, theft and mix-ups do happen which is why it’s important to know the ways for this to be avoided. Keeping your skis visible and locked up will help reduce the risk of them being stolen.
But don’t always assume the worst, it’s common for skis to be mistakenly taken, and there are a few simple ways to deal with this situation.
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Don’t Assume The Worst
If you’re unlucky enough to exit a bar or restaurant and come to find that your skis aren’t where you left them then be sure to consider that it may just be a mistake. This is the best-case scenario and, with rental shops giving out almost identical-looking skis, it can be very common.
If your rental skis have been taken it’s most likely that it will be a mistake, as rental skis generally aren’t worth stealing. Even better, most rental shops have a fleet of skis that differ between shops, so if someone mistakenly picked up your skis thinking they were their own, it’s likely that they’ve rented from the same shop as you.
After a few drinks at après-ski or at a busy mountain restaurant, it’s easily done, but there are a few ways to avoid doing it to someone else. Remember the length of your skis, and what the bindings looked like, or alternatively take a photo of your skis and the location you left them in.
Most rental skis will have a unique barcode on them provided by the shop, so making a note of this is also helpful. Lastly, if something feels off when clipping in your ski boot, then you may just be putting on the wrong skis. Ski bindings are measured to fit your foot size, height, and weight, so this should be a noticeable difference.
Common Places for Theft
Ski theft can happen anywhere, but there are some places where it is more common than others. Busy bars and restaurants tend to have a sea of skis surrounding them, so someone can easily walk up in ski gear without skis and walk away with a pair off the floor, looking nothing out of the ordinary. For this reason, establishments that can be reached on foot are most at risk.
Après-ski bars can be targeted, with thieves relying on intoxicated people and their lack of situational awareness to steal skis.
When staying in chalets or hotels with communal ski storage areas missing skis can be common but it will most likely be a mix-up. However if you’re staying somewhere that has an accessible balcony, be sure to store ski’s inside as balcony theft can be an easy steal.
How To Avoid Your Skis Being Stolen
1. Keep Your Skis in View
You wouldn’t leave your phone unattended in a busy bar so don’t leave skis of equal value out of sight. Probably the most effective measure you can take. Leave them on the ski rack where you can glance at them regularly and keep an eye out for any suspicious-looking individuals.
2. Use a Ski Lock
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It’s an obvious choice but a tried and tested success. They cannot provide 100% protection but can be a great deterrent as an easier theft may be preferable to potential thieves. They’re easily and cheaply ordered online and perfect for when you’re not able to keep your skis in sight. All you’ve got to do is make sure it’s correctly tethered to your skis as even a little wiggle room could be enough to slip skis out of their lock.
3. Split Your Skis
As someone who lives in ski resorts, this is my personal favorite. Buddy up with a friend and switch one ski with each other (this works best when they’re two completely different sizes) so that you’re left with one of your own and one of there’s.
Tip: Put these mismatched pairs of skis on opposite ends of the ski rack and you’re done. Anyone interested in stealing some skis surely doesn’t want one women’s Volkl ski and one men’s Faction ski.
This one is for those with their own skis. Get some stickers on the top sheet and make them your own. People are much less likely to steal (or mistakenly take) a pair of recognizable skis, and permanent personalization will make them almost impossible to resell.
5. Keep Them With You
Probably the most effective technique. It’s simple, if you’ve got them in your hand, they can’t be stolen.
What To Do If My Rental Skis Are Stolen?
As mentioned earlier, don’t assume the worst, if your rental skis have been taken then it’s most likely a mix-up and can be easily rectified. Before rushing away in a panic, look around where your skis were taken and see if there are any similar ones. If they don’t seem to be getting picked up then check for a rental sticker with the shop name and barcode number.
This number will be unique to the person who rented the skis making it easy to find the culprit. Give the shop a call and they should handle the rest. Don’t be put off if you’re in a country where you don’t speak the language, most rental shops will have English-speaking staff members.
If your situation isn’t so straightforward and you can’t spot any signs of ski swapping then let the establishment where your skis were taken know that your skis have gone missing and leave your phone number. It may be that the person who accidentally swapped the skis goes back to where it all happened to return them.
After you’ve looked around for other skis with no luck and left your contact details, make your way to your rental shop. It’s likely that if someone mistakenly took your pair that they’ll feel different on their feet, notice their mistake, and return them to the shop name that is attached to the skis.
Many rental shops will provide you with a temporary replacement pair so that you can make the most of the remainder of your ski day and deal with it later. By this point, most of these situations have sorted themselves out either by the individuals or by the rental shop.
Rental shops will offer insurance for circumstances like this which is worth the small cost. Got holiday insurance? Great, but most policies will have a fair amount of excess so it may not save you all that much money.
At the end of the day, you’re renting skis with the promise of bringing them back and failure to do so is breaking that agreement, so don’t be surprised if you’re footed the bill for a new pair of skis. Implementing the theft prevention tactics listed in this post can help avoid an unwanted situation like this.
What If My Own Skis Get Stolen?
Similar to when rental skis have been taken, it’s fair to assume that it’s a mistake. But when it comes to your own skis, they’re much more likely to get stolen, especially if they’re a particularly nice pair of skis.
Stick around the area that your skis got taken from, try to identify similar-looking skis, and let the nearby establishment know of the missing skis. If this proves unsuccessful, call the local authorities, which can be difficult if there’s a language barrier involved, but it’s worth a shot.
Advice: In a theft situation, your best bet is to use the local ski community. Get on local Facebook pages e.g. ‘(insert resort name here) seasonaires’, ‘(insert resort name here) community and post pictures of your missing skis much like you would with a missing pet. Include as many pictures and as much information as possible, the more people that see the post, the more likely the thief is to get caught.
People generally steal skis to sell them on, so also look on local online marketplaces e.g. Facebook marketplace, and Leboncoin (France). If you see a suspiciously similar-looking pair of skis being sold in the local area, then you may well have found the culprit. Approach these situations with caution and get the police involved if it feels unsafe.
Tip: Whether they’re your own skis or a rental pair, no one wants their possessions stolen. Doing everything in your power to prevent this from happening, for example, using a ski lock or splitting skis, will drastically reduce your chances of your kit getting stolen.
But don’t just watch out for your skis. Ski jackets, helmets, and goggles can be sold-on for a fair amount, leaving them at risk of being taken as well.
Advice: Keep an eye on your possessions or keep them close to you and there will be no reason to worry.