DES PLAINES, Ill., March 2, 2020 — The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) today released the latest report on snowmobile thefts in the United States. With this report, NICB refined its methodology to deliver more accurate snowmobile theft data, which is filtered from the National Crime Information Center’s (NCIC) Stolen Vehicle File. For example, a vehicle was determined to be a snowmobile by meeting any of the following criteria:
- The vehicle identification number (VIN) that was included in the theft record matched the VIN structures of snowmobiles detailed in the NICB Vehicle Identification Manual (years 1999 to 2019).
- The Vehicle Manufacturer (VMA), Vehicle Style (VST), Vehicle Model (VMO), and/or License Plate Type (LIT) recorded in the theft record matches the codes for a snowmobile laid out in the NCIC Vehicle Data Codes Manual.
- The short text description included in the theft record states that the record is for a snowmobile.
From January 1, 2018 through December 31, 2019, a total of 949 snowmobiles were stolen in the United States—471 stolen in 2018 and 478 stolen in 2019.
The top five states for snowmobile thefts in descending order were: Minnesota (190), Michigan (103), Wisconsin (72), Alaska (62) and New York (47).
Historically, there have been other brands, but currently the four main manufacturers of snowmobiles in North America are Arctic Cat, Bombardier (brand name Ski-Doo), Polaris, and Yamaha. Based on VIN structure, data field entries, and text entries included with the theft records, 933 of the 949 records were able to be identified as a product of one of those four manufacturers.
With respect to recoveries, approximately 42% of stolen snowmobiles were recovered while 58% of stolen snowmobiles do not have a recovery record at the time of this report. Of the recovered snowmobiles, 26% were recovered within a day of being stolen, 54% were recovered within two weeks, and 96% were recovered within a year of the theft date.
Polaris was the brand most stolen during this period with 326. Polaris was followed by Bombardier (313), Arctic Cat (210) and Yamaha (84). In 16 theft records, a manufacturer was unable to be identified.
Protecting your snowmobile
- Do not leave the keys in the ignition of an unattended snowmobile, and park the machine in a location where you can easily see it.
- Avoid parking a snowmobile on high snowbanks or other locations where it can easily be loaded onto a truck or trailer then driven away.
- When finished riding for the day, lock the vehicle with a cable or heavy chain to a tree or even another snowmobile.
- Properly secure a snowmobile during transport and, if possible, store it in a locked shed or garage.
- Write down the VIN and keep it in a safe place. A VIN is an easy way for law enforcement to verify ownership and will speed up the process of returning the machine to its rightful owner.