Police warn owners to be vigilant after a surge in boat engine thefts
Police in Devon and Cornwall have urged boat owners to be vigilant after engines worth a total of £458,000 were stolen in the past year, the Western Morning News reports.
Whilst police have increased patrols in the worst hit areas and launched a new RIB to patrol the Camel estuary, they say owner responsibility will be most effective way to stamp out thefts.
Their advice is to lock engines or remove them from boats if leaving for long periods. CCTV has also proven to be effective, police say, and so have new posts which stop vehicles accessing lanes leading to the water’s edge.
The North Cornwall Marine and Coastal Policing Team (MCPT) have also asked boat owners to join their Boat Watch Scheme, according to the Cornish Guardian.
“All members get automated tip-offs direct to their phones when we know gangs are in the area,” explained Sergeant Andy Stewart, who created the MCPT. “Descriptions of gang members are also passed out among those on the scheme. This means boat owners know when to be extra vigilant.
“The more people we get signed up to the scheme, the better, because then we have more eyes and ears on the ground sharing the alerts.”
The International Association of Marine Investigators,working alongside the Police, has found links to criminal gangs in Eastern Europe. PC Del Allerton-Balwin explained that one gang member searches the area and a group returns a few weeks later. They can steal up to £100,000 of engines in one trip, he claimed.
Sgt Stewart revealed the police are working with forces in Easten Europe to reduce the crimes. “We know the gangs’ vehicle registration numbers and we are tracking them,” he said. “Recently three gang members were arrested in North Wales. We want to make the Camel estuary an unattractive place for these criminals so it is more attractive for everyone else.”