MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. — Martin County Sheriff's Office deputies said they've seen an uptick in marine electronics and boat motor thefts as criminals are traveling across counties to burglarize boats.
Deputies said the burglaries occur in driveways, storage facilities, marinas at night and even on docks behind their homes. According to authorities, criminals work in groups to case the area before committing the crimes and target boat motors that do not have a locking mechanism. They are also stealing GPS, Garmins and chart plotters.
In the past month, there have been 19 reported cases in Martin County.
"We know for sure that this trend is from Miami through St. Lucie county and we believe these criminals are traveling and not local," Chief Deputy John Budensiek said.
Boat owner Eric Lion said: "I think they're just trying to take advantage of a quiet town. It's easy for them to come in the boatyard, do their thing and leave."
Officials advise boat owners to document the serial number of all equipment, take pictures of the items and keep them in a safe place in case of theft. They also suggest remove all valuables from your vessel when it's not in use.
If you store your boat at a marina or storage facility, deputies said, try to choose one with operating surveillance cameras. Authorities also advise placing a personal surveillance camera on the boat, specifically pointing to the console.
In addition, valuables should not be left on boats.