Coastguard rescues alleged boat thief from sinking vessel in Bay of Islands

A boat

The vessel, which was taking on water, had to be towed to Ōpua Marina.
Photo: Supplied

An alleged boat thief’s jaunt around the Bay of Islands came unstuck when the 10-metre launch started sinking and he had to be rescued by the Coastguard.

A police spokesperson said the 30-year-old man was arrested after the vessel, which was taking on water, had to be towed to Ōpua Marina.

He was charged with theft and unlawfully taking a motor vehicle, and was due to appear in Kaikohe District Court on Monday.

Russell police Senior Constable Mike Gorrie said Coastguard volunteers managed to tow the vessel to safety despite a significant amount of water on board.

The crew’s suspicions were aroused because the boatie was wearing a wetsuit hood masking his face, and claimed he could not remember his name.

They alerted police, whose inquiries revealed the vessel had been taken from a mooring near Paihia wharf on 7 September.

The man was arrested as he was brought ashore about 6.40pm on Saturday.

Gorrie said the vessel had been holed, possibly by hitting rocks, and also had a damaged rudder.

The owner told him the $35,000 launch had just been refurbished, but was likely to be written off given the amount of water inside.

Gorrie said a kayak had been stolen from Paihia on the same day as the launch. It was believed it had been used to reach the vessel.

The alleged offender told him he had stayed onboard the boat overnight and travelled around the bay, visiting Nine Pin Rock and Ōpua Marina, before holing the vessel and calling Coastguard.

Gorrie commended Bay of Islands Coastguard volunteers for their efforts and managing to bring the damaged vessel to shore.

The latest incident was not related to an alleged boat theft ring operating in the Bay of Islands since early this year.

Three men had been arrested in relation to thefts of and from boats in Ōpua, Paihia and Russell.

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