Marine-related thefts continue to hit the Lower and Middle Keys, including a stolen boat at Fiesta Key RV Resort near mile marker 70.
In total, 10 GPS units, a 20-horsepower Mercury motor, 12 fishing rods and a 30-foot Contender with twin Yamaha outboards parked on a trailer, have been reported stolen to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office. Speakers, a radar unit and a sonar unit have also been reported stolen.
The Contender is believed to have been stolen sometime between Dec. 17 and Jan. 5 . Investigators think most of the thefts happened between early December and New Year’s Day.
The round of thefts stretch from Fiesta Key to Cudjoe Key. Similar crimes occurred in Marathon during the end of November when six lower units were stolen from boats on Gulfstream Boulevard and 75th Street Ocean West.
A lower unit attaches the prop to the actual motor, weighing about 75 pounds each and can cost thousands of dollars.
Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Deputy Becky Herrin said it’s unknown if the recent round of thefts are connected to the lower unit thefts from November.
“These crimes don’t happen all the time. It’s unusual, but it’s not unheard of,” Herrin said. “Several years ago, we had a similar type of engine and lower unit thefts. We have all of our resources applied to stop it.”
After the November round of marine-related thefts, Herrin told the Keynoter most stolen boat gear isn’t recovered since most of it is taken to Miami and the rest of South Florida, where the items are usually sold overseas or on the black market. Police have a hard time tracking stolen items that leave the Keys.
Detectives are checking pawned items throughout the state. Florida law requires fingerprinting of the person pawning items for money, which registers the item to a database police can access.
Since recovering stolen items is difficult, Herrin urges boat owners to be cautious and lock up electronics and other items.
Herrin advises removing electronics from boats when they’re not in use or installing good lighting and surveillance near boats, which may deter thieves or catch them on video.
“We’re emphasizing safety and prevention,” Herrin said. “If anybody has any information about the thefts, they should give us a call. There’s a substantial award for anybody who helps and leads to arrests in these cases.”
Tips can be left at the Sheriff’s office at 289-2430. Tipsters can remain anonymous. The Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys hotline is 346-TIPS. Tips can also be submitted at 222.tipsubmit.com or by texting 274637 using the keyword TIP136.