Kenai man arrested in snowmachine theft

  • Saturday, December 13, 2014 5:43pm
  • News

While responding to a disturbance at Soldotna High School Tuesday, Alaska State Troopers located a Kenai man with a snowmachine that was reported stolen from a dealership in October.

Austin Hibbert, 18, was arrested on six charges – first-degree vehicle theft, second-degree theft, removal of identification marks, tampering with physical evidence, third-degree criminal mischief and first-degree criminal trespass. The first five charges are class C felonies and if convicted the penalty is a maximum five years in prison and up to $50,000 fine on each count.

A 2015 Polaris Assault 800 snowmachine valued at $12,500 was reported stolen from Peninsula Powersports in Soldotna on Oct. 27. An investigation by troopers revealed the snowmachine was “lifted over the fence with the help of a skid-steer loader,” according to a trooper affidavit filed in Kenai Court on Dec. 10.

Peninsula Powersports, a Polaris snowmachine dealership located near Mile 3 of the Kenai Spur Highway, stores its snowmachines behind a 12-foot high chain link barbed-wire fence. Owner Nate Titus said they were in the middle of changing their security system – which was ready to be installed on a Monday – when the sled was stolen from the property sometime over the weekend.

“We were one day late,” Titus said.

Troopers found evidence of the theft approximately three miles away on a dead end road and facts indicated Hibbert was a suspect in the theft, according to the report.

On Tuesday, troopers allege Hibbert assaulted a staff member at Soldotna High School and left the scene in a white 2005 Chevy pickup. Hibbert was pulled over by a trooper on Kobuk Street and found to be in possession of the snowmachine in the back of his truck, according to the report.

Trooper Casey Hershberger with the Criminal Suppression Detail arrived on scene to look at the snowmachine and noticed it had been spray-painted black and the VIN number was missing. Hibbert told troopers the Polaris had been wrecked and rebuilt by the person he purchased it from, a Wasilla man he had met on Craigslist. Hibbert provided a bill of sale with the transaction date of May 24, 2014, according to the report.

In the report Hershberger said he noticed inconsistencies in Hibbert’s statements. Hershberger called the Polaris dealership and was provided with an engine serial number, which matched the number on the certificate of origin for the stolen snowmachine.

Hibbert then admitted stealing the Polaris from Peninsula Powersports by using their skid-steer loader from inside the fence. He also scratched off the VIN number and indicated he altered the sled by damaging it to avoid getting caught. The damage to the Polaris was estimated at more than $750, according to the report. The snowmachine was seized from the scene pending further investigation and Hibbert’s truck was released to a family member.

Hibbert was arraigned in Kenai District Court Wednesday. He is currently jailed at Wildwood Pretrial Facility. His next court date is Dec. 19 in Kenai.

Reach Dan Balmer at

More in News

The waters of Cook Inlet lap against Nikishka Beach in Nikiski, Alaska, where several local fish sites are located, on Friday, March 24, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Unprecedented closures threaten setnet way of life

Setnetters have been vocal about their opposition to the way their fishery is managed

Legislative fiscal analysts Alexei Painter, right, and Conor Bell explain the state’s financial outlook during the next decade to the Senate Finance Committee on Friday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Legislators eye oil and sales taxes due to fiscal woes

Bills to collect more from North Slope producers, enact new sales taxes get hearings next week.

Expert skateboarder Di’Orr Greenwood, an artist born and raised in the Navajo Nation in Arizona and whose work is featured on the new U.S. stamps, rides her skateboard next to her artworks in the Venice Beach neighborhood in Los Angeles Monday, March 20, 2023. On Friday, March 24, the U.S. Postal Service is debuting the “Art of the Skateboard,” four stamps that will be the first to pay tribute to skateboarding. The stamps underscore how prevalent skateboarding has become, especially in Indian Country, where the demand for designated skate spots has only grown in recent years. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
Indigenous artists help skateboarding earn stamp of approval

The postal agency ceremoniously unveiled the “Art of the Skateboard” stamps in a Phoenix skate park

Bruce Jaffa, of Jaffa Construction, speaks to a group of students at Seward High School’s Career Day on Thursday, March 23, 2023, at Seward High School in Seward, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Seward students talk careers at fair

More than 50 businesses were represented

Alaska state Sen. Bert Stedman, center, a co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee, listens to a presentation on the major North Slope oil project known as the Willow project on Thursday, March 23, 2023, in Juneau, Alaska. The committee heard an update on the project from the state Department of Natural Resources and the state Department of Revenue. (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer)
Official: Willow oil project holds promise, faces obstacles

State tax officials on Thursday provided lawmakers an analysis of potential revenue impacts and benefits from the project

Jerry Burnett, chair of the Board of Game, speaks during their Southcentral meeting on Friday, March 17, 2023, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Board of Game decides on local proposals

Trapping setbacks, archery hunts and duck restrictions were up for consideration

Audre Hickey testifies in opposition to an ordinance that would implement a citywide lewdness prohibition in Soldotna during a city council meeting on Wednesday, March 22, 2023, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna council kills citywide lewdness ordinance

The decision followed lengthy public comment

Samantha Springer, left, and Michelle Walker stand in the lobby of the Kenai Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center on Wednesday, March 22, 2023, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Springer named new head of Kenai chamber

Springer, who was raised in Anchorage, said she’s lived on the Kenai Peninsula since 2021

Forever Dance performers rehearse “Storytellers” on Wednesday, March 22, 2023, at the Renee C. Henderson Auditorium in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
‘Storytellers’ weave tales with their feet

Dance and literature intersect in latest Forever Dance showcase

Most Read