While Johnny Depp is charming as Captain Jack Sparrow, he may be having a bad influence on Florida’s thieves. For some as yet unknown reason, 35-year-old Daniel Johns thought it would be a good idea to steal Robert Caco’s Morgan Out Islander 41 Segue from its slip near Naples. Last Thursday, Caco dropped by the marina to check Segue‘s lines before Tropical Storm Noel hit — the lines were in great shape but there was no boat attached to them.
Caco immediately called the police and began searching for his "little home on the water" from his daughter’s small plane. He’d just returned from a 10-day cruise a few days before so he knew the thief couldn’t have made it very far traveling at 6 knots. On Sunday he got the call that the Coasties had found Segue about 30 miles north of Cuba.
Johns was alone on the boat and authorities found no evidence of contraband. Drug and human trafficking are common activities in Florida but police have not been able to determine Johns’ motive for the theft. He’s been charged with grand theft.
Then on Tuesday, 26-year-old transient Giovanni Stoll was running from cops after carjacking an SUV in Panama City. Instead of trying to outrun the police, Stoll drove the commandeered Silverado into a bayou and swam out to a moored sailboat. The owners of that boat shooed him away so he swam to a vacant boat. The cops watched with amusement from shore as Stoll struggled to raise sail while the sheriff’s 27-ft Boston Whaler, equipped with two 225-hp engines, bore down on the thief. He surrendered without a struggle.
It actually surprises us that more sailboats aren’t stolen. The locks on most boats we see are wimpy at best, if they’re even locked at all, and many boat owners we know keep their engine keys close at hand and easy to find. As winter closes in and your trips to the marina grow more infrequent, take a good, hard look at your boat’s security and figure out ways to beef it up. Move anything that could easily ‘walk away’ (snatch blocks, outboard, BBQs) into the boat or your garage, talk with your neighbors about a ‘marina watch’, take the engine keys home and upgrade your locks to ones that aren’t easy to cut with a hacksaw or bolt cutter.