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Residents of Oakland and Alameda in California’s Bay Area have been facing a concerning rise in crime, including thefts and robberies. However, there is a unique twist to these criminal activities – they involve pirates sneaking up on boats and yachts in the harbor.
Residents of the Bay Area have been left shocked and worried as they witness a surge in piracy on the water. These pirates operate with small watercraft to sneak up on unattended boats and yachts at night, then break in with bolt cutters and other tools and steal valuable items. The stolen items range from equipment and outboard motors to entire boats.
The frequency of these incidents has reached alarming levels, with boat owners reporting thefts on a weekly basis. The thieves often strike at night, adding an extra layer of fear and vulnerability for boat owners.
“It’s every week. Every week somebody’s missing something,” marina resident Emmanuel Ievolella told CBS. “From their boats or either their dinghies or their outboard motors or from their cars.”
Boat owners have reported witnessing high-speed chases on the water between thieves and police boats.
“A couple weeks ago, I saw, for the first time, a high-speed chase on the water with police boats pulling over another boat that was speeding away,” said an eyewitness.
“And you wonder, where did they get these boats? Small boats are expensive. So, I wonder where they’re getting them. I don’t know,” said another resident. “Maybe they’re taking what little money they have to buy them, but it’s, you know, I know a lot of friends who have had their small boats disappear and their outboard motors.”
Damon Taylor, who keeps a sailboat near the Jack London Aquatic Center, has observed that outboard motors are currently the most sought-after item.
“Yeah, the motors are the thing,” Taylor told the news outlet. “You’ve got to figure a brand new, small 10-horsepower engine is $10,-15,000. So, even in the black market they can probably get a couple thousand.”
Some believe that the rise in pirate attacks may be connected to the growing homeless population in the area.
Thanks to the Democrats, Oakland and San Francisco have become hotspots for homelessness, with an increase of over 50 percent since 2015, according to DailyMail.com.
Homeless individuals living in makeshift encampments along the estuary may be involved in the thefts. It is suspected that they are either using stolen boats or targeting boats to support their drug habits. The easy access to drugs and the lack of law enforcement in these encampments have created an environment where criminal activities can thrive.
The Oakland Police Department currently has two full-time officers assigned to marine patrol, according to NBC. However, the demands on the police force are immense, leaving limited resources for addressing the rise in pirate attacks.
The department acknowledges the need for more patrols and is working in conjunction with the Alameda Police Department to address the spike in crime. Night-time patrols have been initiated along the waterfront, but boat owners and residents are urging authorities to allocate more resources to combat the piracy problem.
“They can’t handle the land, financially and resource-wise,” Damon Taylor said. “They can’t do anything. There’s no Oakland Navy.”