Byline: Taylor Hill
LONG BEACH — Boat owners in Long Beach’s Shoreline Marina can rest a bit easier following the break-up of an elaborate crime ring targeting outboard engines on sailboats and RIBs in the harbor, police reported.
Long Beach Police Sgt. Jeff Garcia said 32 suspects have been identified in the organized thefts of numerous unlocked outboard engines from boats. Thieves reportedly loaded the engines onto pallets and sold them in bundles at around $10,000.
“We’ve identified a few of the outboards on Craigslist — but not too many, so far,” Sgt. Garcia told the Long Beach Marine Advisory Commission at its September meeting. “They were targeting smaller outboards: ones they could carry.”
Sgt. Garcia noted that 15 of the suspects are facing charges and are in custody, while 17 have warrants out for their arrest. Long Beach Detective Joe Starbird headed up the case and federal agents assisted, conducting routine checks on the docks, which are expected to continue.
Sgt. Garcia said that since the bust, no outboard engine thefts have been reported in the 1,764-slip marina.
About six months ago, a similar crime ring was broken up in Alamitos Bay by Long Beach’s Marine Patrol units and the police department. Starbird was recognized by the Long Beach Police Department in June for busting a crew accused of stealing motorcycles, televisions, boat engines and other high-value items from around the Port of Long Beach.
“It was a good-sized theft ring, and they were making some good money — so, we’re on the lookout to see if it might pop up again,” Sgt. Garcia said.
In an effort to combat future outboard thefts, a federal grant has been issued for Long Beach supplying 3,000 engine locks to the Marine Bureau, to distribute to boaters as needed.
“When you are in the marina, please be cognizant of the ‘neighborhood,’ and remember that we appreciate you reporting anything you deem to be askew,” said Marine Bureau manager Mark Sandoval.
Boaters are being asked to use locking mechanisms on their outboard motors and to call the Long Beach Police’s 24-hour number — (562) 435-6711 — to report any suspicious activity. Boaters should call 911 if there is an emergency or a crime is in progress.