Saturday December 24, 2011

WINHALL -- A New York man entered a plea of not guilty in a Vermont court Monday, two days after he was arrested for allegedly stealing more than $1,000 worth of ski equipment from Stratton Mountain Resort.

Steven M. Plotkin, 38, of Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y., was arrested Dec. 17 after the Winhall Police Department received several complaints about stolen ski equipment from the base lodge at Stratton.

Plotkin was arraigned in Windham Criminal Division: Vermont Superior Court on Monday and pleaded not guilty to grand larceny, a felony charge. He was released on $25,000 bail with several conditions, including he not trespass on Stratton, Mount Snow or Killington properties.

If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison and/or a $5,000 fine.

Court documents indicate Plotkin has previous convictions in New York, including criminal possession of stolen property, possession of a stolen credit card, petit larceny and a first-degree defrauding charge.

Plotkin, who was an on-site guest at the time of the incident, was confronted by Stratton employees after he allegedly took other visitors’ personal items left on the ski rack. The victim observed Plotkin in possession of an open ski bag containing the same model that was stolen and later identified them as his own.

"I don’t think it was a crime of opportunity. I think there was some premeditation that was involved," said Winhall Police Chief Jeffery Whitesell, who said when the department seized and searched Plotkin’s vehicle, about $7,000 worth of stolen equipment was discovered. "Ski resorts typically experience theft every year and they’re generally hard cases to solve, but this one we were able to solve with the assistance of the Stratton Mountain Resort being active."

Stratton spokeswoman Nazli Kfoury said the arrest was the result of a close collaboration with the police department.

"We’re thankful they were on hand to complement our on-resort initiatives and are pleased this issue is behind us. We can now focus our energies on preparing for what the forecast suggests may be a white Christmas at Stratton," Kfoury said.

"Skiing is one of our big attractions to Vermont and a lot of people come to Vermont to ski and we try to work in conjunction with the ski resorts to make that a safe place for tourism," said Whitesell.

After searching the resort for several hours, Winhall police located Plotkin’s 2008 Mercedes Benz ML350. After obtaining a warrant, officers found multiple pairs of stolen skis and other equipment.

Whitesell said Plotkin was identified as a person of interest in several other thefts over the past two weeks and further charges are pending as that investigation continues.

Chris Garofolo can be reached at cgarofolo@reformer.com or 802-254-2311 ext. 275.