Police forces have "specific intelligence" to combat rise in boat and engine thefts

Police forces in Poole Harbour, the Solent and the South-west are under pressure from local clubs and marine organisations to halt the rise in crime that has swept the region over the last month.

Marinas, boat parks and moorings have all been hit by thieves stealing boats on trailers, outboards, tenders and other equipment, such as electronics.

Dorset Marine Police have revealed that boat crime doubled year-on-year for the month of March in Poole Harbour and increased by 50% in April – from 17 up to 25 incidents. More crimes have already been recorded in May this year than in the whole of May last year.

Operations Inspector, Mark Handscombe of Dorset Police said that a “definite fortnight-long blip” in the figures had triggered a change of shift-pattern for his marine-section officers out on the water. This includes working weekends and bank holidays, plus some recourse to “specific intelligence” in an attempt to target known suspects and criminals.

Local concern
David Butcher, Secretary of Poole Harbour Watch, a community safety organisation is a typical victim. His 2hp outboard was stolen from his back garden while he was out at a Harbour Watch meeting. He has stated that the reason the level of crime is so high is because the Police launchAlarmis out of action. Mark Handscombe confirmed that the launch (pictured left) is out of the water for at least six weeks awaiting two new engines.

PC Jo Tearall of the Dorset Marine Division told PBO that the increase in the last month has been “definitely noticeable.” When asked aboutAlarmshe pointed out that there are three RIBs available to the Marine Division but admitted thatAlarmis much more visible and acts as more of a deterrent.

She went on to comment: ‘Any sightings of small boats acting suspiciously by moorings or close in to shore should be reported, either anonymously through Crimestoppers, or direct to Dorset Police (01202 222222). However, 999 can be used if suspicious activity is in progress. We are relying on the public to help us stop the spread of crime.’

PBO has also learned of significant criminal activity over the weekend affecting Totnes in Devon as well as Christchurch, Dorset, where five thefts were reported, and all over the Solent and Hamble River in particular.

For more on this, see PBO July issue, on sale 7 June