A competitive racing team's boat that was stolen is now back with its rightful owners.
The Gig Harbor team believes some very determined thieves stole one of their boats not once but twice in just the last two weeks.
The Gig Harbor Canoe & Kayak Racing Team's nearly $15,000 safety boat first went missing on July 10. The wakeless catamaran is an important part of the team's training because coaches use it to keep up with the kids and their kayaks while on the water.
"When you're learning to paddle, you're falling in all the time, so the safety boat is there for dragging kids out of the water," said Head Coach Alan Anderson. "It's a big loss."
After the initial theft, the team shared details of the crime on social media, along with photos of the stolen boat. They were thrilled when someone spotted it in Tacoma, where the boat was then recovered by police and returned.
"The thieves had taken a hacksaw to cut through the aluminum railings. They were going to take the aluminum and had three bolts off the motor. They couldn't get the last bolt off. So they evidently left to get more tools, and in the interim, in the Tacoma Tideflats, one of the boaters that had seen it on social media saw the boat, and Tacoma Police were called in. So before they could come back to steal the motor, we got the boat back in tact," said Anderson. "So that was a huge relief."
But it wouldn't be long before the thief returned.
The team used the safety boat on Monday evening. By Tuesday morning, it was gone. The boat was taken for a second time from the dock where it's usually tied up in front of Anthony's restaurant.
Patrons at the restaurant reported seeing the boat at about 9:30 p.m. Monday. That means it went missing between 9:30 p.m. Monday and 9:30 a.m. Tuesday when team coaches showed up at the dock.
"We've never had a theft of anything before. None of our kayaks, not our coaching boat. People in this community have been very supportive and great. So it was a shock," said Anderson.
The timing had young athletes on the team concerned. They are gearing up for the USA Sprint Canoe and Kayak National Championships. The event is set for next week in Florida and is a competition that Gig Harbor has won for the last five years straight.
Luckily, the boat was found, again.
"Incredibly, our boat has been found. Again! It was found under the 11th Street Bridge on the Puyallup River in Tacoma. A tribal fisherman called it in, and Officer Tang with the Puyallup Tribal Police recovered the boat. The registration numbers were scraped off," Anderson said. "The motor is missing, but we are so happy to have it back (mostly) intact. The thieves had dragged it about 300 feet up a road, so it's coming home on a flatbed this time (thanks, Eric, with Burns Towing). Next step - GPS tracker!"
The team credits alert community members for helping track down the boat.
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