ISLAND SHERIFF, FIRE AND EMS NEWS

ISLAND SHERIFF, FIRE AND EMS NEWS

Anglers asked to please stow their gear, secure their vessels in light of large number of marine thefts in our area

■ STAFF REPORT

Because of recent thefts of fishing tackle around the island, both the Charlotte and Lee County Sheriff’s Offices are asking anglers and captains to make sure they remove gear from their boats and trucks if they are left unattended.

The Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office has reported that most of the equipment they see stolen was from boats tied up to personal docks or lifts, left unattended at night.

That means many of the thieves come by water to commit their crimes.

“The thieves come by in small personal watercraft and grab what they can,” said CCSO Public Information Officer Katie Heck. “In the case of the fishing tournament, it will be boats that are trailered in front of the hotels or where the anglers are staying. In both cases, they are crimes of opportunity – thieves see something that is unattended and unsecured, and they take it. Peak times would be overnight, when there is less likelihood of the thieves being spotted.”

CCSO has, in fact, increased its aerial patrol of boatyards, marinas and the waterline in response to a statewide trend of boat and boat motor thefts. In addition to routine patrols by the deputies in a district, specialty units are also monitoring activity in these areas.

The Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office Marine Unit recommends the following practices to make your vessel a hard target for criminals, whether it is stored at home or in a boat yard/marina.

  • Record all of your boat’s information, such as serial numbers, ID codes and HIN. Take photos, and mark your property with a unique code, such as your house number.
  • Install an alarm system designed for the marine environment – criminals don’t like to make noise or attract attention. Dock lights triggered by motion are an inexpensive means to deter theft.
  • Secure your vessel. Lock the boat and ignition system, and keep your key in your residence.
  • Don’t forget to check your security measures to ensure they are working, and also take this time to double- check your insurance policies and confirm that you have coverage.

As always, residents are encouraged to be vigilant and report any unusual activities they observe at the time they occur. Examples of suspicious activity could be vessels running without lights, carrying multiple large containers on deck or people loitering in the areas of residential docks and public marinas, especially in the late night and early morning hours.