Thieves targeting Barrington boats


Since mid-June, thieves have four times ripped parts off of boats kept at local marinas — it appears the criminals have been targeting propellers, among other items — and twice stolen small dinghies.

On Friday, July 5, a man called Barrington police after someone reportedly stole the props off his boat, which is kept at Brewer Cove Haven Marina. The props were worth $1,000.

Michael Keyworth, vice president and general manager at Brewer Cove Haven Marina, said the thief appeared to know exactly what he wanted when he stole the duo props.

“This had to be done from the water. I suspect this (thief) had damaged his props and went around looking at other boats,” Mr. Keyworth said. “These were stainless steel duo props ... there are two props on one shaft, with a specific rotation and pitch... He knew what he wanted.” 

There was a similar incident in mid-June. A resident who keeps his boat at a Bullock’s Cove marina told police someone stole the prop off his boat while the vessel was tied up to a dock. That prop was worth $400. Police said the thief needed to be in a boat in order to access the prop. An employee at another boat yard in town said props are fairly expensive.

“A prop can run you $1,000. The smaller props are $300 or $400... they’re fairly easy to remove,” he said.

Ken Lass agreed. The Barrington resident said if someone knew what they were doing, it would not take them long to remove a prop from a boat engine.

Mr. Lass spent Thursday afternoon tinkering with the carburetor on the boat he and his son share. He had the cover pulled off the inboard engine and was trying to repair a small fuel leak. Mr. Lass said he had heard about some of the recent larcenies and could not help but feel angry. 

“I hate thieves,” he said. He went on to tell a story: Years ago he owned his dream car, a Chevrolet Chevelle 396 from the mid-1960s. After a short time with the car, someone stole it, stripped it for parts and burned it.

“Now I just drive junkers,” he said.

Mr. Lass and folks at the local marinas are hoping the increased awareness of the coastal larcenies will help reduce the number of incidents.

There has been an increase in marine-related thefts reported since the beginning of June. On June 4, a Massasoit Avenue resident who has a dock on the Barrington River told police someone stole a 9-foot dinghy that had been locked to the dock through an eye-bolt. The resident said someone cut the eye-bolt and must have fled from the scene on the river. The boat and its outboard were valued at $2,700.

The same day, a resident on Henry Drive whose home abuts Hundred Acre Cove told an assistant harbormaster in town that someone had stolen binoculars from inside her family’s boat. She also recalled an incident last summer where someone in a wooden skiff had entered the boat.

On Saturday, July 20, a Seekonk man who keeps his boat at a Barrington marina, called police after someone stole his 8-foot dinghy from a dock. 

Police and marina personnel believe that the recent incidents likely involved someone who was aboard their own boat when they committed these crimes.


Stopped mid-heist

On Thursday, July 11, a boat owner called police after someone tried to remove the outboard engine from his boat, while the vessel was in the water. The thief must have been spooked half-way through the heist, however, because he stopped before taking the engine. The owner found the engine cables cut and some of the bolts backed out. The engine was valued at $2,800. It was not clear how much the cut cables would cost to replace.

In late June, a Riverview Drive resident who keeps his boat on his private dock said someone got onto his boat and stole a two-way radio from it. The radio was worth about $170.

Most boatyards in town have video surveillance and motion-sensored lights, but are reportedly more susceptible to thieves working from the water.

Marina officials like Mike Keyworth said it is unlikely the thieves are taking boat parts to be cashed in as scrap metal, although years ago two men did just that. Mr. Keyworth said marina workers had removed a large bronze prop from a big vessel, when in broad daylight, two men rolled onto marina property in a pickup truck, backed up to the prop, dropped the massive propeller into the truck’s bed and driven off.

“They got away with it,” he said. “They never caught them.”

Most boatyards now use security measures such as cameras and motion-triggered lights, but protecting the boats from thieves coming in off the water is a bit more difficult, say marina workers.


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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.