While not nearly as pervasive as vehicle thefts, snowmobile can impact public safety and basic transportation in areas of the country where snowfall renders other forms of transportation inoperable, according to the first report on the snowmobiles thefts in the United States released by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB).
During the period January 1, 2015, through December 31, 2017, 1,592 snowmobiles were reported stolen—506 in 2015, 549 in 2016 and 537 in 2017. The full report is here.
Law enforcement agencies in 32 of the 50 states reported at least one snowmobile theft during this period with Minnesota reporting the most with 314. It was followed by Michigan (207), Wisconsin (129), Alaska (128) and Washington (109).
There are only four manufacturers of snowmobiles in North America: Textron/Arctic Cat, Bombardier/Ski-Doo, Polaris and Yamaha. Polaris machines were the most stolen during this period with 566, followed by Textron/Arctic Cat (418), Bombardier/Ski-Doo (416) and Yamaha (153). Another 39 thefts were unable to be identified by manufacturer.
While some snowmobiles have been stolen while left unattended, most are taken while they sit on transport trailers either in transit to trail riding areas or stored during non-use in publicly-accessible locations. Once stolen, recovery is made more difficult by the relative ease with which snowmobiles can be hidden in garages, behind buildings or in storage units. That helps explain why 57 percent of the snowmobile thefts in this period have not been recovered.
Snowmobile owners should record the vehicle identification number (VIN) and keep it in a safe place as it may be the only way to positively identify a snowmobile whose legitimate ownership has come under suspicion by law enforcement.
Although snowmobiles are more popularly viewed as recreational vehicles, many communities that are isolated and snowbound during winter months rely on them for basic transportation needs. Moreover, numerous law enforcement agencies and search and rescue organizations use and maintain snowmobiles to respond to emergencies in the back country.
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