VAIL, Colo. - A tech-savvy skier who had her camera stolen at Vail Mountain found it for sale on Craigslist and -- posing as a buyer -- persuaded the seller to email her incriminating photos of the camera that proved it was hers.
The camera owner alerted the Eagle County Sheriff's Office and deputies arrested 29-year-old Teodor Georgiev, a Vail Resorts employee, last week on suspicion of felony theft, said Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Jessie Mosher.
A woman told deputies she was skiing on Vail Mountain Jan. 22 when she noticed that her backpack was unzipped and her camera and lens were missing. She said the camera gear, valued at $4,200, must have been taken from her backpack while she was standing in the lift line.
After the theft, the woman began checking Internet classified ads for a camera matching the description of the one she had stolen.
Five days after the theft, she spotted a camera like her model for sale on the High Rockies edition of Craigslist, Mosher said.
The woman contacted the camera seller, expressed interest in buying it and asked the seller to provide photos of the camera and photos taken by the camera so she could check its condition before buying it, Mosher said.
The seller "emailed the photos not knowing that he was speaking to the rightful owner who is very knowledgeable in innovation and technology," Mosher said.
The woman used encryption data from the digital photos of the camera that were taken with a smart phone to pull up global-positioning information. It showed the photos were taken at an address in Eagle Vail, Mosher said.
One photo revealed a serial number on the camera, confirming it was the one stolen from her.
The woman shared this information with the Sheriff's Office.
Undercover deputies contacted Georgiev, who lives in Eagle Vail, and arranged to meet him to buy the camera, Mosher said.
When confronted by investigators, Georgiev said he found the camera while he was working at Vail Resorts, according to Mosher. He said "times are tough, so he figured he would sell it" rather than follow Vail Resorts policy which requires employees to report all found items to lost and found, Mosher added.
Georgiev has been released from jail on $7,500 bond, according to court records.
Officials asked anyone who has information about the suspect or this crime to call the Eagle County Sheriff's Office at 970-328-8500 or Eagle County Crime Stoppers at 970-328-7007 (1-800-972-TIPS). You can also submit your tip online at www.tipsubmit.com, or text a tip from your cell phone by texting STOPCRIME plus your message to CRIMES (274637).
If your tip leads to the arrest and indictment of a suspect in this crime, you could earn up to a $1,000 reward from Crime Stoppers.