Tips for protecting your ice house & fishing equipment

Chief Deputy Chris Caulk, Isanti County Sheriff’s Office

My younger brother lives in Mesa, Arizona, so of course the only ice he is used to is the ice in his ice tea.  I guess when you live in a region that at best sees a frost in the winter I can understand how he thinks it is funny to visit with me about people actually driving on a lake, much less spending time on the ice to fish.

IMG_9654I tell my brother how much of a sport ice fishing is and the fact that families can spend hours on end just sitting in, yes, a warm fish house, visiting and having a great time hanging out. I tell him stories of the portable fish houses all the way up to the fancy “Ice Castle” wheel houses, and that even some have bedrooms, satellite TV and people stay in them over night or sometimes for days on end.

Unfortunately, there are also others out there that know the value of what people keep in fish houses and the value of what people bring with them to ice fish.  Last year the Isanti County Sheriff’s Office had several thefts of ice fishing equipment and fortunately due to some good citizen tips and good investigations we were able to recover most everything that was reported stolen.

The Isanti County Sheriff’s Office hopes that you have a wonderful and safe time fishing and want to offer a few tips to keep you from becoming a victim of a theft of ice fishing equipment.

• Remember if you have a permanent fish house do not leave any valuable items in them when you leave for the day.  I know it is an inconvenience to remove everything and take it home but it is better to do that than have a break in and lose all your valuable fishing equipment.

• Next, when you are out fishing and if at all possible keep an eye on your items that are in the vehicle that you drove out there.  Yes, we have had people act as look -outs while someone else unloaded the back of a pick-up.  So park your vehicle so you can watch it, and if someone that you do not know comes into your fish house to visit about something, remember to stay vigilant so that you are not just being distracted while someone is cleaning out the back of the pick-up.

• If you park at the boat landing, make sure that your vehicle is locked up and all valuable out of view.  Summer and winter alike we get many calls of thefts from vehicles that are unsecured and parked at the boat landings.

• If you leave you fish house out on the lake and you are not around for a few days, ask a local acquaintance to check on it. Also keep make, model and serial numbers or add identifying characteristics to your equipment so in the event it is missing and we find it, you can easily identify it.

• If you happen to have a theft, remember to call your local law enforcement. Due to safety issues surrounding driving on ice, we may not be able to drive onto the ice with our squads.  So if you notice a theft or have damage to your property, please snap a few photos or video with your camera phone so we can have the photos or video of the damage if we are not able to get onto the lake.

You cannot always keep those people away that like to prey on others, but by following a few of these tips you can decrease the likelihood that you will be a victim.

So let’s keep this ice fishing season one of great memories and time well spent with family. Remember these few tips, and, as always, report suspicious  or criminal activity to your local law enforcement and DNR officials. And let’s watch out for one another.