We are dealing with sophisticated idiots. The boat theft rings know when and where to strike. They use the stolen boats for a variety of illegal activities: human smuggling, selling off the engines and parts, etc. Of course, thefts damage our community much more that the cost of lost property. Tourists won’t come back, either out of disgust or because their insurance companies won’t allow it. And when the tourists stop coming, well, we will all have to steal to survive.
Piracy is a romanticized and interesting footnote in our country’s history. It belongs in our history books. It does not belong in today’s society.
The actual penalty on the books for boat theft is a pittance: under $1,000. If thieves are jailed they don’t stay off our street and seas for long. Fox Hill is a revolving door. I don’t understand how the government hasn’t built more room yet (because it is both the right thing to do AND an easy capital works projects they so love to spread money around with.) The simplest possible solution could go a long way to reducing crime. Build. It. Bigger.
There is no room in the jail so criminals are spit back out before their time. There is no accountability in our justice system. It’s a reflection of our political system.
It’s confounding. Boat thieves are the biggest threat to our tourist economy. And Abaco is the flash point.
Demand more officers be deployed to Abaco and more resources.
Not to say that nothing is being done. The community comes together and acts quickly when alerted to a new theft. Private planes are scrambled frequently to check the mangroves and hot spots such as Snake Cay. Social media provides a great outlet for sharing information. And I believe our police force, stretched thin as it is, does its best with resources it has.
The reality though is more needs to be done. Marinas need more security. Background checks need to be more thorough. Boat owners need to invest in anti-theft devices. Expensive, but now seemingly necessary. Human smuggling is an ugly reality playing out in Abaco. And your stolen boat carries the cargo.
Ask yourself why no progress has been made to reduce these thefts. Now ask what can be done.