when your style affects other peoples style...it becomes an ethical problem. The gear would not have been "stolen". It would have been taken down and held until the owner came to claim it. The Preserve would have been told who had it in case the owners asked. If I had watched the people on it leave, and then took it for myself...that would have been stealing. Cleaning the cliff is not stealing. It cmes back to local ethics. You need to find out what the ethic is for fixing your gear on a route and then leaving. It's pretty simple. In the Gunks, don't do it