Vancouver Island police recover stolen yacht, suspect claims to have COVID-19

Deputy Chief Ray Bernoties of the Oak Bay Police speaks to media regarding a stolen yacht from Oak Bay Marina on Monday, April 13. The suspect claimed to be infected with COVID-19, carried a knife, and was unwilling to cooperate. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
The Son Seeker IV, a 54-foot yacht, which was stolen and recovered from Oak Bay Marina on Monday, April 13. The suspect claimed to be infected with COVID-19, carried a knife, and was unwilling to cooperate. His joy ride ended just a few hundred meters south. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
The Son Seeker IV, a 54-foot yacht, which was stolen and recovered from Oak Bay Marina on Monday, April 13. The suspect claimed to be infected with COVID-19, carried a knife, and was unwilling to cooperate. His joy ride ended just a few hundred meters south. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
With the help of the Coast Guard, Oak Bay police officers boarded a stolen yacht on Monday morning and arrested a 25-year-old male suspect who claimed he had COVID-19. (Oak Bay Police/Twitter) With the help of the Coast Guard, Oak Bay Police officers boarded a stolen yacht on Monday morning and arrested a 25-year-old male suspect who claimed he had COVID-19. (Oak Bay Police Twitter)

Oak Bay police officers caught a prolific offender they believe stole a 54-foot yacht from Oak Bay Marina on Monday morning.

A witness in the marina thought it unusual that a boat which is for sale would be started at 3:30 a.m., so they called the police.

Staff at Oak Bay Beach Hotel soon spotted the boat offshore.

“We notified Coast Guard and got a ride to [the boat],” said Deputy Chief Ray Bernoties.

READ ALSO: Oak Bay Police monitoring known offender in Caddy Bay

Oak Bay police officers were heavily armed upon boarding the boat and arrested a 25-year-old male suspect who is known to police.

“Our members boarded the boat, armed while doing so, and found a male in the boat who had a knife in his possession with him,” Bernoties said.

While there is an ongoing problem of marine theft in Oak Bay and Cadboro Bay, Bernoties has not seen a theft of such a large, valuable boat.

The yacht is called the Son Seeker IV, a 2002 Sea Ray, and is listed for $449,000.

Its keys were left inside and it was parked in the immediate slip upon entering the marina.

Video evidence from Brnkl boat and security monitoring, who have a floating office just 10 metres away, captures a man paddling into the marina on a canoe. Footage shows that upon leaving, the man crashed the boat into the dock at least once and appeared to be stuck possibly twice before finally exiting.

“When the male was arrested he made claims he had COVID-19, which was a concern to our members so our members were (for the most part) masked, and masked the [suspect]. [He] remained uncooperative, banging his head against the shield in the police car,” Bernoties said. “We appealed to his good nature and tried to explain this is a very serious allegation.”

The coast guard towed the yacht back to the marina with police on board as a measure of safe-distancing from the suspect. The suspect was cleared by the hospital of COVID-19 testing and released to police custody, Bernoties said, though it is unknown if he has COVID-19.

READ ALSO: Early morning fire engulfs boat in Oak Bay Marina

Police say the suspect has an extensive criminal history and they plan to recommend charges which may include theft over $5,000, possession of stolen property of $5000, breach of conditions (as he is not to possess a knife), and mischief over $5,000 (for damage caused to the yacht when boarding).

A neighbouring boater believes the owner is in Toronto.

reporter@oakbaynews.com


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