We know winter sucks, but please stop stealing snowmobiles

Sleek speedboat-like body, cool accent colors: We understand the temptation, but hands off, please.

Sleek speedboat-like body, cool accent colors: We understand the temptation, but hands off, please. David Joles, Star Tribune

Sure, you’re probably clearing the eleventh ton of snow off your car this week.

And yeah, you’ve forgotten the feeling of sun on your skin and the luxury of maintaining control of your car on the road. But before you turn to the singular thrill of grand theft snowmobile to pull you out of your winter doldrums, maybe just... don’t.

We only say this because as it turns out, Minnesota leads the nation for snowmobile thefts. And according to data released last week by the National Insurance Crime Bureau, it’s a big lead. More than 300 snowmobiles were stolen in Minnesota between 2015 and 2017, presumably by people who just couldn’t take one more minute of punishment and decided to glide into the Arctic sunset and leave their lives behind.

Those 300 thefts represented about 20 percent of all snowmobile thefts in the country during that time period. Michigan, the runner-up, lagged behind us by more than 100. We now know that Minnesotans are the most likely to reach out and grasp a pair of handlebars that don’t belong to them, then whisper “it’s time,” before sailing off into the snowy abyss.

We also know, due to the highly specific nature of the Bureau’s data on snowmobiles, stealing, and stealing snowmobiles, that our sleds were most often stolen on Saturdays (predictably between late November and early March). The top five counties in the state where these kinds of thefts take place are Anoka, St. Louis, Hennepin, Pine, or Crow Wing County, and the most common mark was one of those little numbers from Polaris -- a “hometown” company. Not a lot of folks lustfully eyeing other people’s Yamahas, it seems.

The bad news, is less than half of all stolen snowmobiles between 2015 and 2017 were ever recovered. The likelihood of recovery goes down the longer the snowmobile has been missing. Frank Scafidi, spokesperson for the Bureau, told MPR News it’s because snowmobiles, unlike cars, are not regularly used, and therefore their absences often go unnoticed.