Stealing a cooler is so uncool, but it’s happening all over the country anyway, because there’s high-end cooler brand that’s really, really hot.
It’s the Yeti, and it’s a far cry from that Styrofoam box that set you back five bucks at the Piggly Wiggly.
That cooler won’t escape a hungry seagull. But the Yeti? It’s certified grizzly-proof.
It also doesn’t come cheap, retailing for anywhere from $250 for a small model to $1,300 for a Tundra 350, which the manufacturers say is big enough to hold two large tuna or even three dressed elk.
Manufactured by a process called biaxial rotomolding, the Yeti is basically the Lamborghini of coolers. In fact, if you leave a Yeti in the back seat of your unlocked Lamborghini, chances are it’s the Yeti that will be gone in the morning.
That’s because thieves have been warming up to the Yeti all summer, swiping the pricey coolers from cars, boats and stores and on beaches all over the country, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.
It’s even earned a nickname: the “Redneck Rolex.”
In Alabama and Mississippi, thousands of dollars in Yeti merchandise have been stolen from four Sand Dollar stores. Police in Mobile, Ala., suspect a gang of thieves is involved, and they say the suspects have occasionally used a Mercedes as their getaway car.
In Kentucky, a couple of Yeti thieves chatted up some men, followed them to their lodge and stole nine Yetis from their pickup trucks and boats. Authorities caught up with the suspects, who now are cooling their heels in a hot cell.
The thievery continues in Fairhope, Ala., where police reported 26 Yetis have been stolen this year.
In Paducah, Ky., two women were arrested after they allegedly stole $500 worth of soft-sided Yeti coolers from a grocery store. Officials said the women themselves had a soft side, too. They hid the coolers by having two toddlers sit on top of them in their shopping cart.
“I’ve seen some bizarre acts and criminal extremes in my time,” Capt. Matt Carter of the McCracken County, Ky., Sheriff’s Department told the Wall Street Journal. “This just goes to show the extreme that some people will go to.”
In Odessa, Texas, police finally caught up with the “Yeti Bandit,” who pleaded guilty to stealing dozens of Yetis from truck beds. “When you have $400 coolers,” said arresting officer Det. Sgt. Trae Portwood, “people are going to start stealing them.”
That’s for sure, said William Bowers, accused of stealing Yetis and selling them on Craigslist for about a week before he got caught.
“They’re expensive, man,” said Bowers, who is awaiting a court date. “I get good money for them.”
So here’s a tip for Yeti owners: Pay just a few bucks more and buy a Styrofoam cooler that’s bigger than your Yeti. Now put your Yeti in it. We won’t tell.