Traverse City Record-Eagle

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January 4, 2014

Stolen snowblower chills mother, son

TRAVERSE CITY — Lisa Knickerbocker awoke to an unpleasant surprise on New Year’s Day.

The high-end snow blower her son Justin, 24, bought her with his own hard-earned income was gone, stolen from her front yard.

“I looked out the front door and I said, “Oh my God,” Lisa Knickerbocker, 49, said. “And Justin’s face just turned white as a sheet.”

Tracks leading from their Garfield Township home suggested someone rolled the snow blower to the street, hoisted it into the back of a pickup truck and drove off through the New Year’s Eve darkness.

A snow blower registers relatively low on most individuals’ lists of worldly possessions. But this snow blower was fully equipped with an electric starter, heated hand warmers and “automatic everything,” Lisa Knickerbocker said. More importantly, though, it was a gift from a son raised in a single-parent home who was trying to look out for his mother before he moved across the country.

Justin Knickerbocker said he’s California-bound in about a month. He said he’s taking a job with Google -- Lisa Knickerbocker called it a once in a lifetime opportunity -- and before he left he wanted to make sure his mother could dig herself out of northern Michigan’s typical heavy snow in his absence.

Lisa Knickerbocker said she suffers from degenerative disc problems. She had surgery about three years ago to alleviate some of her chronic neck pain, but doctors told her to stay away from shoveling snow. And an old, manual-start snow blower Lisa Knickerbocker used to own was difficult to operate, which prompted Justin to spend $700 out of his own pocket on the used, though now-stolen upgrade.

“It made me cry,” Lisa Knickerbocker said of the moment her son surprised her with the new snow blower before Thanksgiving.

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