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  #1  
Old 09-26-2012
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Stolen Dinghy Located

About four years ago, my dinghy was stolen from the beach. Saturday I saw it again. We were sailing out of the harbor, there was a man fishing from a rowboat. At first I thought it was pretty cool that he rowed to fish. But as we passed closer the boat looked very familiar. I hailed him: "Cool boat, what is it?" "It was a little sailboat, now it's a fishing boat" he replied. By now I could see the transom. Very familiar. But he was anchored over a submerged jetty, I was under sail and without a plan. We had a great sail, moderate to fresh S, small sea. The dinghy stayed on my mind. Four hours later, we returned to the harbor to see my suspect and my boat raising anchor, and heading in. Now I made a plan. Follow him and confront him. Unfortunately, inside the harbor he turned North, away from docks and ramps, toward marsh and sandspits. I followed, watching the depthsounder. Thankfully the tide was high. He rowed fast looking the other way, studiously ignoring his persuer on an unusual course. When he rounded a point with parking, I quickly threw over the anchor. He would either have to beach it or come back past me. He headed for the beach. I took off my shoes and shirt. "You're not jumping in!" My wife said. "Wait right here." I told her, and jumped in. A quick swim and jog brought me up to the guy and my boat. I recognized every detail. Not surprisingly, he claimed he'd found it. I told him it was stolen, that I'd built it, that I could prove all that. He asked how to resolve this issue. I said he could buy it from me for a low price, or I'd pay him a small reward for "finding it". He agreed to pay. I feel much better about it all now, and a little proud that my boat is still working after 23 years outdoors.
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Old 09-26-2012
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Re: Stolen Dinghy Located

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Originally Posted by WanderingStar View Post
About four years ago, my dinghy was stolen from the beach. Saturday I saw it again. We were sailing out of the harbor, there was a man fishing from a rowboat. At first I thought it was pretty cool that he rowed to fish. But as we passed closer the boat looked very familiar. I hailed him: "Cool boat, what is it?" "It was a little sailboat, now it's a fishing boat" he replied. By now I could see the transom. Very familiar. But he was anchored over a submerged jetty, I was under sail and without a plan. We had a great sail, moderate to fresh S, small sea. The dinghy stayed on my mind. Four hours later, we returned to the harbor to see my suspect and my boat raising anchor, and heading in. Now I made a plan. Follow him and confront him. Unfortunately, inside the harbor he turned North, away from docks and ramps, toward marsh and sandspits. I followed, watching the depthsounder. Thankfully the tide was high. He rowed fast looking the other way, studiously ignoring his persuer on an unusual course. When he rounded a point with parking, I quickly threw over the anchor. He would either have to beach it or come back past me. He headed for the beach. I took off my shoes and shirt. "You're not jumping in!" My wife said. "Wait right here." I told her, and jumped in. A quick swim and jog brought me up to the guy and my boat. I recognized every detail. Not surprisingly, he claimed he'd found it. I told him it was stolen, that I'd built it, that I could prove all that. He asked how to resolve this issue. I said he could buy it from me for a low price, or I'd pay him a small reward for "finding it". He agreed to pay. I feel much better about it all now, and a little proud that my boat is still working after 23 years outdoors.
Why didn't you call the cops on your way out, and confront him with reinforcements on the way back?
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Old 09-26-2012
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Re: Stolen Dinghy Located

Neat story.

I wouldn't have called the cops. It would be pretty hard to refute the "I found it" story after it was missing for 4 years.
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Old 09-26-2012
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Re: Stolen Dinghy Located

I especially loved the way you completely disregarded your wife. That is EXACTLY how I would have handled that situation. We don't all get those chances. Good for you.
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Old 09-26-2012
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Re: Stolen Dinghy Located

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Originally Posted by caberg View Post
Neat story.

I wouldn't have called the cops. It would be pretty hard to refute the "I found it" story after it was missing for 4 years.
Laws vary from state to state, but I always thought that "I found it" or even "I bought it" (with a receipt) are usually not acceptable excuses for holding property that can be proven as stolen (such as a police report at the time of theft). Whether you "found it," or even bought it on ebay or anywhere else, I believe that it may be subject to forfeit if the original owner tracks it down.
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Old 09-26-2012
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Re: Stolen Dinghy Located

I think I would have called the cops. First, you had no idea what kind of nut you were dealing with as you approached him. Confronting someone about stolen property could turn really ugly really fast. And second, the guy very well might have a record of "finding" the property of others. If so, being in possession of stolen property could have serious ramifications for him were the cops to get involved (which, of course, brings us back to my first point).
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Old 09-26-2012
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Re: Stolen Dinghy Located

What a great story. Your resolution of this is a great example of a little self help with plenty of emotion, but finally good judgment. While reading, I was waiting for the ending to involve a fist fight; police; yelling and screaming; burnt boats, etc. Instead, a reasoned resolution that gives you satisfaction. Congratulations. I'm a lawyer and despite whatever rights might have been asserted and pursued, sometimes it's a good idea to just focus on what you're trying to achieve and carrying on. Good for you.
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Old 09-26-2012
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Re: Stolen Dinghy Located

The guy's demeanor and attitude seems to indicate that he didn't "find it".
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Re: Stolen Dinghy Located

Calling the cops was a possibility, and I told the guy so. But it was far from a guarantee of satisfaction. It's true that if you find something of value, you must turn it in to police. Knowingly keeping what is not yours is still larceny. But the road might have been long, and I don't need the boat anymore. As for confronting strangers, yes, it is a risk. But I am 6'5" tall, 240 lbs, a veteran and retired police officer. I thought my demeanor would discourage violence, and if it occured, I have the training to defend myself.
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Re: Stolen Dinghy Located

"Call the cops"?.... You ARE the cops...

Nice story, nicely handled. It's been an interesting year for you....
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