Two mainland men charged in Upper Keys boat theft following joy ride

A plan by two men to take a ride on a 23-foot boat not belonging to them literally ran aground Wednesday off Tavernier.

Residents on Blue Harbor Drive alerted the Monroe County Sheriff's Office that a boat carrying two men had run hard aground on a flat just off the oceanside neighborhood.

Sgt. Dawn Leird reached the area, between Ocean Pointe Suites on Burton Drive and Harry Harris Park, around 5 p.m. and saw one man struggling to push the Sea Pro off the flat.

That man -- Alvaro Tato, 31, of Sunrise -- waded to shore and told the deputy the boat belongs to his friend, Boca Raton resident Carlos G. DaCosta, 49. "Just then, DaCosta came into sight, paddling a kayak and yelling to Tato," said Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Becky Herrin.

DaCosta admitted taking the boat from behind an East Beach Road home, that it did not belong to him and that no one gave him permission to use it, Herrin said.

Leird reported that DaCosta claimed "he just took it for a ride and was going to return it.... The keys were on board and he was going to bring it right back."

After running aground soon after leaving a canal, DeCosta made his way back the house to get the kayak. The suspect did not have permission to use the kayak, either, the boat owner from Hialeah confirmed when called by deputies.

DaCosta and Tato were booked into the Monroe County jail on two counts of theft involving property worth more than $10,000. They were being held in lieu of $26,500 bond each.

The boat was towed from the flat. Grounding damage to the sea bottom will be assessed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.