Expensive boats are turning into quick cash for criminals

By Peter Schaller - email

STUART, FL (WFLX) - This weekend another local Yacht dealer takes a hit, but it's more than just one boat at one dealer.

Some in the marine industry are protecting their products with state of the art security systems and armed guards. "If you don't have a security system, these dealers are like sitting ducks," said Lou Lentine, a Stuart boat dealer.

A 35-foot boat was stolen from HYM Yacht Sales in downtown Stuart. "Most of the time, if they find the boat at all the electronics, the motors, the systems, everything has been taken out the boat."

Lou says that when a boat is stolen, it's rarely ever back out for recreation. He says it's either stripped for parts or the criminals use it for more criminal activity. "If they steal it, then make one run with illegal immigrants, and they don't care. They'll beach the boat and be on their way."

After losing some boats to thieves in recent years, Lou bought an expensive state of the art security system. "It has been successful. We had an attempted robbery here last year," said Lentine.

As for this most recent stolen boat, Lou says, its probably not anywhere nearby. "I'm sure that boat is probably in the Bahamas by this time now."

According to this Stuart boat dealer, the two Suzuki motors on the stolen boat could bring in $15,000 a piece on the black market.