Sheriff's officials warn of spike in boat thefts on the Delta

The Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office Marine Services Unit is warning boat owners of a spike in boat thefts in the Delta.

Lt. David Cook, Commander of the Marine Service Unit, said the boat thefts began in mid-October.

There have been 11 boat thefts in Contra Costa County. He said there have been roughly two dozen cases when combined with neighboring counties.

“We’re always looking for suspicious activity and boats abandoned on the waterways,” Lt. Cook said. “Boat thefts is always an ongoing concern and unfortunately we’re seeing a real spike.”

The rash of thefts have occurred from Pittsburg to Discovery Bay and there is no pattern as to where the thieves are striking. The boats are being stolen and stripped. The most recent case occurred on Dec. 31 in which a boat was taken from a marina in East Brentwood. It was later found stripped and running on the water.

“It seems like people are after the portable electronics, navigation systems, the speakers and the outboard engines,” Cook said. “We have the impression that they are casing beforehand. They’re going out looking for boats they might be able to get later.”

Cook said the thefts have occurred at night. In some cases, boats are later found floating on the water or abandoned on rural roads after they were stripped. One boat was set on fire and deserted.

The Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office arrested one man in December in connection with a boat theft. The investigation is ongoing and more arrests are possible.

The Marine Services Unit is advising people to always secure their boats to a dock with a chain, if possible and remove all valuables and electronics. They also advise people to use motion detection lights and cameras, as well as writing down serial numbers for electronics, engines, and boats. This can help investigators track an item and help them return it to the rightful owner when found.

Cook said people should be aware of any suspicious persons or activity and report it to local law enforcement by calling 911. The Marine Services Unit can be reached at (925) 427-8507.