Facebook helps close case on stolen snowmobile in Grand Lake
Arrest report says social media post led to crucial tip
A snowmobile was reported stolen from a Grand Lake business late last month, but the alleged thief apparently didn’t anticipate the wide reach social media has in Grand County.
Michael E. Thurston, 39, of Grand Lake was charged with felony theft over $5,000 for allegedly stealing a snowmobile that retails for more than $13,000. The arrest report says a worker at the business told deputies he noticed a 2020 Polaris KHAOS RMR 800 was missing Jan. 20 after seeing the sled parked outside the night before.
Employees showed deputies footprints in the snow where the snowmobile was parked and its tracks, which went cold at US Highway 34 and County Road 6525. The workers also told deputies they had reached out to the community by posting a picture of the stolen sled on a popular Grand County Facebook forum.
Deputies spoke with the registered owner of the snowmobile, a man who had financed the sled, and he told them he only comes to Grand County to snowmobile with family and friends and doesn’t know anyone in the area, let alone anyone who might have taken his machine.
As deputies were talking to the business employees, one of the workers got a tip from a caller who saw the photo and had noticed a snowmobile that looked just like it trolling around the streets of downtown Grand Lake.
Deputies then went to the place the snowmobile was last seen and found the sled in the alleyway between the trailer park and Mountain Market. After matching the VIN number to the stolen snowmobile, deputies approached the nearby trailer and a man came outside.
Deputies asked the man, identified as Timothy Zimmerman, what he was doing with the snowmobile, and he reportedly told them it belonged to his friend Mike. Deputies asked Zimmerman to get Mike out of the trailer, and Thurston emerged.
According to the report, Thurston told deputies he was fixing the snowmobile’s exhaust for another friend. Thurston gave authorities the friend’s name, but he could not say where this friend lived.
After running Thurston’s name, deputies discovered he had active warrants for his arrest. Also, Zimmerman told deputies that he knew Thurston but only barely. Zimmerman added that he found it odd Thurston was in possession of such a nice machine.
As of Thursday, Thurston remained in Grand County Jail on the outstanding warrants and the additional felony theft charge. It was not clear if he has an attorney.
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The Grand County Sheriff’s Office fielded 284 calls from July 18-24 while dispatchers answered 594 calls for all first-responder agencies in the county.