Offseason in Aspen: Potholes, pass fraud, pilfering |

Offseason in Aspen: Potholes, pass fraud, pilfering

Charles Agar
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Paul Conrad The Aspen Times

ASPEN ” Police are warning about petty theft, ski pass fraud and car-eating potholes, which must mean one thing ” offseason is upon us.

It’s the usual host of transitional troubles as the snowpack melts and Aspen empties at the end of ski season, according to Sgt. Rob Fabrocini of the Aspen Police Department.

“We always have an increase in theft this time of year,” he said.

There were six ski thefts at the Aspen Highlands closing day party on Sunday, Fabrocini said, adding that he expects more as seasonal workers leave the area.

Many offseason thefts occur between roommates or are perpetrated by people leaving Aspen at the end of ski season, Fabrocini said.

Unlocked bikes left in front of bars at night, skis left in a ski rack in a shared apartment, or other expensive outdoor gear in unlocked or common storage areas are vulnerable to theft, Fabrocini said.

“If you usually leave things around, lock ’em up,” Fabrocini said.

The lazy days of approaching offseason are also a time when people get creative with ski passes, Fabrocini said.

Departing seasonal workers often give friends a freebie and leave their ski passes behind, Fabrocini said.

But Aspen Skiing Co. workers watch pass fraud closely, he said.

“It’s something that happens every year,” said Skico spokesman Jeff Hanle. “We have a zero tolerance policy.”

On March 8, Aspen police officers made separate arrests of Norman Gabrick, 65, and Kara Thompson, 25, in Aspen for alleged pass fraud.

Skico staffers charge pass-fraud artists $100 and force them to buy a ski pass for that day, Fabrocini said.

Civil fines are separate from potential criminal fines, which are commonly in the range of another $100 in municipal court, Fabrocini said.

“It ends up being a very expensive day,” Fabrocini said.

Changing temperatures and anticipated winter storms mean area roads are under heavy stress, according to Aspen Street Department officials.

That means potholes, and Aspen police said it’s up to drivers to pay attention and protect their vehicles from damage.

“Drivers are required to be attentive to all conditions on the street,” said Assistant Police Chief Bill Linn.

He likened a pothole to a tree limb that falls across the street, and said that a driver whose car is damaged by a pothole has no real recourse.

Jerry Nye, director of the street department, said he’s only received a few complaints about potholes, but Nye’s crews are hard at work making temporary fixes on local trouble spots ” including those in the roundabout, Maroon Creek Bridge and the intersection of Main and Mill streets in downtown Aspen.

Nye said many of the pothole areas are the responsibility of Colorado Department of Transportation crews, but Nye’s city staff, as well as county workers, often help out.

“It’s a joint effort,” Nye said.

Runoff water falls into cracks in roads, then freezes and blows the road apart, Nye explained.

City crews use an air-injection machine to patch holes with 3⁄8-inch rocks covered by an emulsion, but it’s simply a temporary fix until weather warms and crews can pour asphalt, he said.

Crews work mostly at night, he added, and try to stay out of the way of busy traffic hours.

“Nothing’s really permanent this time of year with the freeze and thaws and the amount of moisture on the streets,” Nye said.

Nye’s staff is also busy removing snow to widen some streets and clearing drains clogged with sand from roads, he said.

“We’re just at the very beginning of the pothole season,” said Brian Pettet, head of the Pitkin County Public Works Department.

Pettet has received a few complaints, but stressed that citizens reporting trouble spots on roads should know whether they’re on state-managed Highway 82, city of Aspen or Pitkin County roads before making a report.

“A lot of people live on private roads,” Pettet added, such as West Buttermilk Road, and maintenance there is up to a homeowner’s association.

Area roads are in worse conditions than other years, Pettet said, thanks to a combination of general deterioration (and road dollars not going as far with rising construction costs) as well as this year’s high snowpack, anticipated runoff and increased traffic.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Aspen and Snowmass Village make the Aspen Times’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User