Brevard boat thieves strike again

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MELBOURNE, Fla. —

Less than 24 hours after Channel 9 reported on a boat theft from the Bethel Marine Shop in Rockledge, the station learned that another valuable boat was stolen, just 15 miles south, from Boathouse Discount Marine in Melbourne.

Both boat thefts were caught on surveillance video and investigators said three people were involved in each theft.

A 27-foot fishing boat that belonged to a Merritt Island family was taken in the latest theft.

"Looks like we might be out of a boat for the rest of the summer," said the boat's owner Kevin Gregoire. "It looked like they knew what they were doing."

The thieves used bolt cutters to cut the lock and open the fence. They then used a sledge hammer to break the steering column of a truck that was parked in the way, and moved it aside.

In the previous theft, three people stole a $150,000 boat from the Rockledge shop.

Gregoire said detectives told him it happens frequently in Florida.

"They're looking into whether it is part of a Cuban smuggling ring," said Gregoire. "They steal the boats, strip them out and use them as resupply vehicles to smuggle people in through Cuba."

Charles Fischer, the owner of Boathouse Discount Marine, said it is the second theft at his business in the past year.

He said smugglers like to steal boats that hold a lot of fuel.

He said when stolen boats are found, they've typically been stripped.

"We wish somebody would solve this problem. It's hurting our whole industry," said Fischer.

In the theft from Fischer's business, police are looking for three men who were towing the 27-footer using light-colored pickup truck.

Investigators said the $80,000 boat may have suffered damage during the theft.

 

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