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Posted on Sat, Jan 2, 2010 : 6:04 a.m.

An Ann Arbor Yeti policeman hot on the trail of a fleeing snowmobiler becomes department legend

By Rich Kinsey

The bandits who were caught Sunday night after sharp Ann Arbor police officers followed their tracks in the snow to their criminal lair reminded me of another tracking story from years ago. I didn't witness this legend’s birth, but my partner of many years did.

One winter night, Ann Arbor was blanketed with upward of 6 inches of snow. A bored young man decided to take his snowmobile for a spin around Burns Park and the area streets. Neighbors who were unaccustomed and unamused by the whine of the snow machine called the police. 


Officers followed snowmobile tracks to find a bandit in a story that became department legend.

Two officers were sent to try to corral the errant snowmobiler. Catching a snowmobile is not easy with a two-wheel drive police car, but the responding officers were successful.

One of those officers was a friendly giant of a man who stood well over 6 feet 5 inches tall and weighed north of 300 pounds. I know from personal experience he is very strong. Once I was harassing him in the locker room, and he lifted me up and over his head (and the lockers) using my ballistic vest and gunbelt for handles. 

Undaunted, I informed the behemoth I had him “right where I wanted” him and unless he wanted to be embarrassed in front of all the officers assembled, he should release me immediately. Perhaps he was laughing too convulsively, but he gently put me down.  

On this snowy evening, the scoundrel driving the Ski-Doo was corralled, and the officers were attempting to identify him. Their original plan was to admonish the snowmobiler to drive the machine home and park it. If the machine moved again, the officers would drop by to issue the appropriate tickets. 

But things went all wrong.

The snowmobiler decided to flee on his machine. The giant officer with a great sense of humor and comedic timing decided to pick up the back of the snowmobile to thwart the escape. His timing was off, and the snowmobile dragged him for some distance. When the officer let go and stood, my partner first determined the giant was uninjured - then between fits of uncontrolled laughter tried to convince the giant to get in the car to pursue the violator.

My partner described the giant officer as looking like the Abominable Snowman or Yeti. He was distinguishable as a highly trained Ann Arbor lawman only by his badge and eyeglasses. According to my witness, the front of the officer was completely covered with snow. Snow covered his face and shot up under his glasses. His now hatless head was literally steaming. The snow covered officer growled something, re-doffed his police hat, swatted away assistance from my witness and set off afoot on a mission from which he would not be deterred.  

The now melting Yeti policeman followed the snowmobile tracks to a garage. His knocks on the door probably cracked plaster inside the stately Burns Park home. My partner and the cranky uniformed Yeti actually caught the delinquent snowmobiler as he was exiting the back door of his parents' home. 

Poignant discussions about snowmobiling on city streets and in parks, disregarding the lawful order of a police officer, fleeing and eluding, resisting, hindering and opposing a police officer in the discharge of his duty were among the topics discussed that evening as the now calmed, satisfied, but soaked Yeti drove the snowmobiler to the station for booking. That Yeti will always be a legend and one of my heroes!

Lock it up, don’t leave it unattended, be aware and watch out for your neighbors (so you too can laugh if they're being chased by a blue suited Yeti).

Rich Kinsey is a retired Ann Arbor police detective sergeant who now blogs about crime and safety for



Mon, Jan 4, 2010 : 1:46 a.m.

Last I checked Ann Arbor has a specific ordinance that makes using a Snowmobile on the street perfectly legal when a "Snow Emergency" has been declared. Course this probably happened before that tort was ever created.


Sun, Jan 3, 2010 : 10:42 a.m.

this reminds of my former neighbor,father of 2 lovely teenage daughers, who's home was frequently TP'd. One morning, after a heavy snowfall, my neighbor woke to find his trees yet again with a layer of TP. However, the hapless delinquent boys had left a trail of footprints leading directly back to their home...


Sun, Jan 3, 2010 : 2 a.m.

How cute Dick Kinsey is the only ann "journalist" that gets a response.


Sat, Jan 2, 2010 : 8:35 p.m.

Like I said....funny story


Sat, Jan 2, 2010 : 5:46 p.m.

Seems like another story of cops wasting resources instead of busting REAL criminals.


Sat, Jan 2, 2010 : 2:05 p.m.

Using a snowmobile as the only mode of transportation during a blizzard, during the day is one thing, but joyriding late at night is another. These machines are LOUD and consideration should be taken in a residential neighborhood. I've been woken before by their sqealing engines at 1-2am in my former Ypsilanti neighborhood and wish the Yeti had been there. Wonderful writing Mr. Kinsey!


Sat, Jan 2, 2010 : 12:53 p.m.

Ann Arbor IS NOT up north. Different laws apply in cities. the dog

Eric D

Sat, Jan 2, 2010 : 11:08 a.m.

Did he ketchem?


Sat, Jan 2, 2010 : 10:53 a.m.

Thanks for the laughs! For once I really am laughing out loud. :)


Sat, Jan 2, 2010 : 10:40 a.m.

I vaguely remember this legend. Sounds like an exploit of "THEO"!


Sat, Jan 2, 2010 : 9:32 a.m.

Seems the bully came out that day. Why would you harass a snowmobiler riding on streets that are for the most part unusable by cars. Upnorth where I ride, its legal to ride on the shoulder of the road, and a few years ago they made it legal to ride in town. Oh well, I'm sure somebody whos never been on a snowmobile will pipe up with how dangerous it is.


Sat, Jan 2, 2010 : 9:26 a.m.

Another great story. Thank you!


Sat, Jan 2, 2010 : 9:16 a.m.

Well here's a local law that needs to be changed... With the city now unable, unwilling, or whatever to clear snow from our streets until more than four inches have collected, it's going to be easy for them to fall so far behind if we're hit with another of those legendary blizzards that it could be days before everyone is plowed out. A snowmobile, snowshoes, or cross country skis might be the only practical way for getting to Kroger for bread and milk.


Sat, Jan 2, 2010 : 9 a.m.

I love these stories by Semper Cop! I am sure he has plenty more to share. I am also appreciative of his literary flair.


Sat, Jan 2, 2010 : 8:30 a.m.

Very funny story, but I didn't realize that using a snowmobile was illegal during big snow storms. I remember back in '77/78 after the big blizzard that the snowmobile was about the only motorized vehicle on the roads for a couple of days in our neighborhood.


Sat, Jan 2, 2010 : 8:24 a.m.

looks like you didnt seem to understand the story.


Sat, Jan 2, 2010 : 8:09 a.m.

No that is not the moral of the story. Please re-read and try again. the dog


Sat, Jan 2, 2010 : 6:35 a.m.

Could the moral of this story be that cops don't always do the right thing?