Over $1.3 million in snowmobiles and motorsports products stolen in Central Okanagan

The Central Okanagan appears to be a hotbed for stolen motorsports equipment.

One of a number of stolen snowmobiles and motorsports products that are listed on the Central Okanagan Crime Stoppers website.
One of a number of stolen snowmobiles and motorsports products that are listed on the Central Okanagan Crime Stoppers website. Photo courtesy Crime Stoppers

Last week we posted a video, from Castanet, of a brazen snowmobile theft in West Kelowna. When we got poking around the Okanagan Crime Stoppers website it became evident that if you own a snowmobile, ATV, motorcycle or even a boat or RV unit in the central Okanagan, you better hang on to it tightly because it would appear there may be an organized effort targeting motorsports products in the region.

On the Central Okanagan Crime Stoppers website they have a special tab called Hot Recs, where they display all reported motorsports or related thefts in the region. A total of 130 units have been reported stolen in and around Kelowna and West Kelowna in the last four or five years.

Here is a current breakdown of thefts over the last few years: 

  • 16 snowmobiles
  • 54 Motorcycles (from Harley Davidsons to KTM motocross bikes)
  • 38 All Terrain Vehicles (ATV)
  • 13 Boats
  • 9 RV or Motorsport trailers

130 Stolen Units

In comparison, Revelstoke, which is a hotbed for snowmobiling and motorsports activities, had only about half a dozen reported thefts of snowmobiles and ATV’s on their Crime Stoppers website over the same time period.

It’s hard to estimate the value of these thefts — however, if the average value of these various units was $10,000 each (130 x $10,000 = $1.3 million) then the total value would be in neighbourhood of $1.3 million of stolen motorsports products in the last four or five years in the Central Okanagan.

Here's a sampling of some of the snowmobiles and other motorsports units that have been stolen in the area in recent years: 

2013 Yamaha Phazer
2016 Arctic Cat M8
2016 Polaris 800 Pro RMK
2016 KTM
2017 Can Am ATV

In November 2018, Okanagan-based Global News ran a report on escalating worksite equipment theft. Could there be a connection between motorsports thefts and this rash of equipment thefts?

TNC Excavating president Troy Chapman told Global News, “whoever took the excavator was filling out an order…Somebody’s buying them. The thieves are stealing them to put in their backyard. They got it sold and it’s just a money transaction to them.”

One equipment rental company in Kelowna also reported a spike in rental equipment thefts from a number of worksites.

“So far we’ve lost a Bobcat, [a] compressor, some thousand pound plate tampers, a bunch of generators, chainsaws,” Brad Gretzinger of Winn Rentals told Global News. “Off the top of my head, about $145,000 worth of equipment.”

RCMP say they’re seeing a pattern in heavy equipment thefts.

“The trend that we’re seeing is that heavy equipment is being targeted by thieves in the Okanagan,” RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey said in a Global interview. “They’re not just targeting heavy equipment, but also trailers, etc, that they would use to transport that equipment.”

“I think there’s a gang out there and they’re taking orders from customers — stealing what people are looking for,” said Gretzinger when he summed it up with Global News.

Read the Global News article

Here are some tips on how to prevent your snowmobile (or motorsports unit) from being stolen from Randy Toth of the Massachusetts Snowmobile Association.

Snowmobile Theft deterrence tips: 

1) If parking your sled in the backyard, you should chain the sled to a large tree or some other sturdy object with a hardened chain and lock. A nondescript cover is best since it doesn’t shout, “There is a new or late model, Ski-Zoom 6000 Thunder Jet just sitting here.”

2) If parking on a trailer, the snowmobile should be locked securely to the trailer. Don’t forget to lock the trailer to the tow hitch and the tow hitch to the towing vehicle.

3) If parking in a garage, be sure to lock the garage doors. It also helps not to have windows that can be easily used to spot your new sled parked inside.

4) If parking at a restaurant, be sure to park the sled in plain sight and not on a snow bank where it can easily be pulled onto a passing pickup truck or trailer.

5) If parking at a motel, be sure to chain your sled to a large object or to one or more other sleds making it more difficult to pickup and steal.

6) If left unattended at a gas pump, be sure someone is watching your sled when you go inside to pay or to grab some food. In a busy place like a gas station, anyone with a snowmobile suit and helmet can blend in and just hop on your sled and drive away.

7) If you are really paranoid, you might even carry a hardened chain and lock on your sled while riding, to secure your snowmobile to a tree in case a breakdown along the trail forces you to leave your snowmobile in the woods. If you leave your trailer unattended and detached from your truck then chain your trailer to a tree or buy a wheel boot to lock your trailer wheel.

The fact remains that the Central Okanagan appears to be a hotbed for snowmobile and motorsports theft — taking steps to deter, discourage and prevent this activity is a smart decision in protecting your passion and property.

Here is a link to the Hot Recs units listed on the Central Okanagan Crime Stoppers website. 

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