Police probe outboard thefts

Police are still waiting for a break in the rash of outboard motor thefts that has struck the Port Orchard Marina in the last few weeks.

Since mid-May, thieves have carried off at least seven outboard motors, taken off boats moored at the marina. The most recent one was taken a week and a half ago. Police suspect the criminals came by boat — hauling an entire outboard motor up one of the marina’s access ramps and through one of its security gates would be no easy task, said Port Orchard police Det. Jason Glantz.

“Hopefully someone would see that,” he said. “It would be kind of odd.”

So far, there is no evidence the thefts were necessarily connected or spurred by anything except short-term monetary gain. Outboards can be expensive — the missing engines were typically valued at around $2,000, depending on age, size and brand. Glantz said the thieves probably planned to sell the motors or trade them for drugs.

“That’s usually how it goes,” he said.

In the past, the Port Orchard waterfront has been the target of organized marine accessory theft rings. About 10 years ago, the Port Orchard Police Department broke up one such ring that had tractor trailers-full of stolen boat radios, outboard motors and other high-value vessel parts. Nevertheless, Glantz said, the latest rash of thefts doesn’t necessarily bear the marks of an organized ring. For starters, the thefts haven’t focused on one particular type or brand of outboard.

“It looks like they’re taking what they can get,” he said.

Police have started distributing flyers soliciting information on the thefts. Glantz said the department is also partnering with Crimestoppers to make use of the latter’s confidential tip line. Between the two, Glantz said, the department hopes to get some fresh leads to work with.

In the meantime, however, many of the marina tenants feel unable to relax. Tenant Vince Ensman, who said his feelings mirrored those of many at the marina, went to the Port of Bremerton’s commissioner meeting last week to voice his anxieties. The port manages the marina and is responsible for its security and safety, among other things.

Ensman, speaking vehemently before the commission, said the issue was no longer about brining the thieves to justice. He said tenants’ feeling of security has received a serious blow and he wanted to know what the port was doing to restore that trust.

“I want to feel safe keeping my boat there,” Ensman said.

An additional prevalent worry at the marina, he continued, is the possibility the thieves will wait until the victims have replaced their equipment, then come back and steal it again.

The port commission appeared to sympathize with Ensman’s concerns, but could not give any certainties that the thefts would cease. Commission president Cheryl Kincer reminded Ensman that the port was working closely with the police department and would do everything possible to keep the marina secure.

“Rest assured we’re doing all we can right now,” Kincer said.

Anyone with information on the Port Orchard Marina thefts can call Det. Jason Glantz at 876-1700 or the Crimestoppers anonymous tip line at 1-800-882-4535.

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