Aglers are cautioned to remove valuables from their shanties.
Thieves are targeting ice shanties and stealing expensive fishing gear and electronics. Captain Steven Verwiel with the Winnebago County Sheriff Department says this is nothing new, but this season people have been taking advantage of the extreme cold weather. The stronger ice has more people setting up shanties, and more opportunity to burglarize them.
"I would say on a yearly basis we do have some ice fishing-related thefts from shanties, however it is dependent on ice quality, too. On a poor ice fishing year there might not be as many people out there, if the ice is too thin then there wouldn't be as many. This year it's been very cold so there's been a lot of ice and subsequently lots of ice shanties out there."
Verwiel says it's a good idea to be aware while ice fishing anywhere in the state, but such thievery is more prominent on Lake Winnebago due to its large size. Verwiel offers some helpful advice.
"I think the best thing that any owner can do is take all their valuable posessions with them. Don't leave any depth finders in their or fishing equipment — things that could be cashed-in readily. If there's nothing in the shanty there'd be nothing to steal."
Verwiel says some folks don't use a shanty, they simply sit outside their vehicle on the ice, others have portable shanties they take home with them each day, and then there are the more permanent shanties that are anchored on one spot. There's also a special type of shanty designed especially for sturgeon spearing, whose season opens the second Saturday in February every year.
It's not uncommon to see up to 10,000 vehicles parked on Lake Winnebago, Wisconsin's largest lake, during the ice fishing season.