Sunday, July 12, 2020

Theft at Kebler trailhead goes unresolved

$3,000 in snowmobile parts stolen

The Kebler winter trailhead one and a half miles west of Crested Butte often looks like a parking lot for snowmobiles. From the 1970s worn-down trail putter to the souped-up 2014 powder hog, sleds are regularly left along the side of the road and in the large area on the western edge of the trailhead.



It’s a situation that sets sled owners and tour groups up for convenient and expedient departures into the backcountry; however, it also can leave sleds vulnerable to both the elements and the occasional nefarious ne’er-do-well.
In early December, Crested Butte local John Heinle bought a brand new 2013 Ski Doo Summit SP, a snowmobile that regularly retails between $10,000 and $11,500. On his first day using the sled, Heinle rode up Kebler and returned in the early evening. Planning to use the snowmobile again the next day, he parked it at the west end of the lot in the area where many Irwin residents park their sleds, covered it, and headed home.
“Normally I would have trailered it and taken it with me,” said Heinle. “But it was after 5 p.m. already dark out and minus-20. It didn’t seem like anyone was going to be out there until morning.”
That wasn’t the case. The next day when Heinle returned to the trailhead he couldn’t immediately find his sled.
“I saw this snowmobile near where I had parked with no plastic, no seat, very stripped down, and I actually thought it was a weird looking sled,” he said. “When I figured it out, I couldn’t believe that was my sled.”
Between the time Heinle parked his sled and when he returned less than 14 hours later, his new snowmobile had been dismantled to the point where it was largely unrecognizable.
According to the report Heinle filed with the Mt. Crested Butte Police Department, parts that were taken from the sled included the cover, hood, front and side panels, back plastic, windshield, lights, seat and computer gauge cluster. Heinle said nothing else on the sled was broken during the theft, but the value of the parts taken was upward of $3,000.
“I had just gotten it, and hadn’t yet activated the insurance,” said Heinle. “I assumed there was a grace period similar to what cars have. There isn’t.”
To fix the sled Heinle had to bite the bullet and pay out of pocket—a painful experience in its own right, and one that has prompted him to now keep his snowmobile under lock and key.
“I would never think this was a risk,” said Heinle. “I’ve definitely gotten comfortable with the relaxed attitude around town as it relates to property, and honestly I don’t think this was done by someone from around here.”
After the incident an unnamed Irwin resident told Heinle he had seen a suspicious truck and two individuals hanging out and smoking cigarettes at the trailhead around 10 p.m. on the night of the theft. This has been the only lead in the case, which is now closed.

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