Two Vancouver men have been arrested and charged following an investigation into a rash of thefts from boats and island cottages over a six-month period, starting in July 2015.
Police from Vancouver, North Vancouver, West Vancouver and Squamish worked together on numerous cases involving reports of stolen boats, break-ins to vessels moored at local marinas and to cabins on Bowyer, Passage and Bowen islands, said Vancouver Police Department marine unit spokeswoman Const. Janet Stringer.
Incidents included 21 cases of boats reported stolen and recovered, 29 break-ins to vessels and 13 break-ins to island cabins, she said.
Investigation showed suspects had been stealing dinghies from local docks and marinas and using those to target other vessels, including anchored vessels, said Stringer.
Stolen boats were also used to get to the islands in Howe Sound and break in to cabins on remote properties there.
In some cases, the thieves spent time eating and drinking on the boats and in the cottages they were stealing from.
Some of the stolen items recovered included marine clothing, navigational and safety gear, tools, electronics, liquor and food.
Stringer said the value of the stolen items is estimated at $200,000, including one dinghy worth about $50,000.
Investigation led police officers to execute a search warrant at the West Hotel at 488 Carrall St. in Vancouver on Dec. 1, where a number of stolen items were discovered.
Many items have already been identified and returned, but police are still hoping to locate owners for some of the recovered property.
Police said waiting vehicles or taxis were apparently used to get stolen items from the water back to a room at the single-room-occupancy hotel. In some cases, items were moved on foot.
Stringer said it appeared to investigators that at least one of the thieves likely had a background in boating.
Charged in the case are 35-year-old Jeremy Edward Donald Walker and 39-year-old Liam Eric Fell.
Walker faces charges of possession of property obtained by crime, possession of a firearm obtained by crime and other gun offences.
Fell faces charges of break-and-enter, possession of property obtained by crime and obstructing a peace officer.
Police are warning boaters to secure their vessels and be aware of suspicious activity such as smaller vessels hovering near a larger boat while property is being transferred, and people moving items to the shoreline.