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Safeguards that foil ski thieves.

Every skier runs the risk of having skis stolen. The painful truth is that thefts have increased as the value of equipment has risen (an average pair of skis and bindings now cost $320).

According to insurance statistics, an estimated 10,000 pairs were lifted from ski areas in the West last year, with a recovery rate of less than 1 percent. "I've been in the business 15 years," says one shop owner, "and I've seen the theft problem quadruple."

Given these sobering facts, you should take some precautions to keep your skis secure. For starters, consider where you take and stow your gear. Most skis are stolen from base lodge areas, where skis are propped unguarded in the snow. A small percentage are taken from car racks, but virtually none from midmountain lodges. Larger name-destination resorts report higher theft rates than small, family-oriented day-use hills.

Do-it-yourself deterrents. The surest way to prevent theft is to make your skis a tough target: lock them inside your car if possible (few thieves will make the effort to break in) or use the coin-operated locks or indoor lockers at the lodge. If no locks are handy, separate skis and place them far apart.

Also think about buying one of a wide range of locking devices. Several brands of cable and combination locks are available. Similar to bicycle locks, they fasten through ski bindings and cost from $6 to $25. One type includes a plastic handle that makes it easier to carry your skis once you've unlocked them.

Resort security measures. Some large resorts have instituted programs to help reduce thefts. When skiing at an unfamiliar resort, ask about security when you buy lift tickets. At Deer Valley in Utah, you can check your skis with an attendant; at Banff in Canada, you can place skis in a monitored "corral." In Colorado, you can register your skis with the police department, which places serial numbers into a nationwide computer, increasing chances of recovery; you also get a sticker for your skis that warns away thieves. (Be sure to keep a copy of your serial number in your wallet.)

Engraving a name or driver's license number has not proved to be an effective deterrent, but it can aid in recovery.
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Date:Jan 1, 1984
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