Snowmachine thieves take some Christmas joy

Posted: Sunday, December 26, 2004

The Shirnberg family woke up to an early Christmas surprise on Wednesday. But it was not the kind that one hopes to get during the holidays.

One of their two new Polaris snowmachines had been stolen from their front yard. They had just spent about $14,000 on the snowmachines the month before.

"We just felt so violated," said mother Faye Shirnberg.

The two silver and yellow 600 Vertical Edge machines were used only twice. All Christmas presents were connected to the new metal shining beauties: goggles, helmets and gloves. And the machines were meant to be a way for Richard, the father, and 15-year-old son, Richie, to spend time together. Now with only one snowmachine, the two are robbed of the chance to ride together as well, said Richie.

Richie said his favorite part of riding snowmachines is making large jumps. Previously, he only had access to old machines and was anxious to improve his skills with the ride.

The Shirnbergs recently moved to the Kenai Peninsula from Anchorage. They wanted to be with extended family and were looking for a better quality of life.

After starting a commercial refrigeration business and making some extra money, they decided the machines would be a good way to enjoy a peninsula winter while spending time together, Faye said. Plus, Richie only has three years left before he goes to college, she said.

Last Tuesday, a snowy night, Richie and his father took their new toys out for a spin. Parking them in front of the house around 9 p.m. and taking the keys inside and going to bed, they thought everything was secure, Faye said. That night, she said, the dog was restless.

Early the next morning, the family found only one snowmachine where it had been left. The other was gone, she said. It appeared that the thieves had dragged it to the back of the house, hot wired it and driven toward Funny River Road, she said.

Despite their disappointment, Christmas will go on, Faye said Friday.

Christmas Eve was spent with Richard's family and the following day Faye's side came to their house. "The best part (of Christmas) is always spending time with the family," Faye said.

While police reports were filed, the family is not so sure the snowmachine will be recovered. But they are making every effort to find it. Fliers have been made and Richard has been going door-to-door around Funny River Road hoping to find the machine.

The Shirnbergs also are offering a $500 reward for anybody with information leading to the arrest of those responsible and/or the recovery of the snowmachine. The family can be contacted at 260-4978.

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