Unfortunately, it can be a tale as common as someone losing a wedding ring in the snow after taking off a glove – without a doubt thefts will happen to unsuspecting victims each season.
On March 2, 2020, the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) released its latest findings on snowmobile thefts throughout the United States. From January 1, 2018, through December 31, 2019, a total of 949 snowmobiles were stolen in the United States, compared to 471 stolen during the same timeframe for the 2018 season, and 478 stolen during the 2017 season.
Unfortunately, the recent data illustrates a 101.4% year-over-year increase in thefts. The Midwest appears to be a hotbed, with the top five states for snowmobile thefts being Minnesota (190), Michigan (103), Wisconsin (72), Alaska (62) and New York (47).
Based on VIN structure, data field entries and data included with theft records, 933 of the 949 snowmobiles were identified as a product of one of the four major manufacturers – meaning the most often target is a newer sled, not a vintage one. Polaris had 326 snowmobiles stolen during the period, followed by Bombardier Recreational Products’ Ski-Doo (313), then Arctic Cat (210) and Yamaha (84). The remaining 16 reports were unable to be identified by brand.
Approximately 42% of stolen snowmobiles were recovered – 26% within a day of being stolen, 54% within two weeks and 96% within a year of the theft date. Although thefts have increased, there’s at least a silver lining that nearly all stolen sleds are recovered eventually.
Theft is always wrong, and you should never blame the victim; that said, don’t make yourself an easy target. Don’t leave keys in the ignition of an unattended snowmobile and park in a location where it can be easily seen (especially overnight in an unfamiliar setting). Avoid parking on high snow banks or other locations where it can easily be loaded onto a truck or trailer, then driven away.
Do you have any other advice to deter theft? Please share it in the comments below!
Editor’s Note: This review was originally published in the October 2020 issue of Snow Goer. Every issue of Snow Goer magazine includes in-depth sled reports and comparisons, aftermarket gear and accessories reviews, riding destination articles, do-it-yourself repair information, snowmobile technology and more! Subscribe to Snow Goer now to receive issues delivered to your door or your computer for a low cost.