POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — The Polk County Sheriff’s Office has released images of potential suspects involved in a rash of boat and boat motor thefts throughout the county.
Photos show two men in a gray Jeep Grand Cherokee.
Detectives also released surveillance video from a boat theft that occurred on Breeze Way on July 25. In the video, an unidentified person can be seen driving the same Jeep Grand Cherokee to and from the crime’s location.
The unknown suspects are one of many people suspected of stealing boats in the Lakeland, Winter Haven and Lake Wales areas.
“We don’t know for sure, but it certainly meets their MO,” said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.
“They took the motor off, they just cut the cables,” Byron Claussen said as he showed News Channel 8 where his motor was before thieves stole his boat and ripped out the motor.
“I think the surveillance tape was about a minute and a half long.”
Claussen said that’s all it took for the thieves to pull into his Winter Haven driveway, hook up the boat and trailer and take off.
Claussen is not alone.
Authorities in Polk County are currently investigating nearly 20 different boat and boat motor thefts in those cities, many of which occurred in boaters’ yards.
“They’re riding through neighborhoods and saying ‘there’s a boat, it doesn’t look like it’s locked up or has a relatively easy lock,’” Sheriff Judd said.
The sheriff said it’s an unfortunate reminder for boat owners to secure them.
In most of these cases, the boats should have been protected by a trailer lock in the hitch, but deputies say the thieves were able to cut through locks, hook the trailer up to their vehicles and drive away with the boat. In other cases, thieves would rip out the boat’s motor and leave the boat in place, according to detectives.
Now detectives are looking for the suspects in connection with these thefts. Anyone with information on their identities has been asked to call Heartland Crime Stoppers at 1-800-226-TIPS or go online to submit your tip, where anonymity is guaranteed.
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