Theft of moored boats in Cadboro Bay and in the Royal Victoria Yacht Club marina (pictured) have been raided for goods throughout 2019, said Oak Bay Police. (Black Press File Photo)

Water-based property crime has Oak Bay police on alert

Police used citizen boat to recover goods

A prolific offender suspected of property theft has moved into the waters of Cadboro Bay and is known to the Oak Bay Police Department.

The first male is one of two prolific property crime offenders “plaguing” the area of Royal Victoria Yacht Club and the Uplands neighbourhood. One is a male who has a boat and who has a history of offences. However, Oak Bay Police have also profiled a second, likely unrelated male, that regularly enters Oak Bay and the Uplands by bike under the darkness of night and is believed to be responsible for multiple thefts.

Deputy Chief Ray Bernoties said they are taking whatever measures they can to make sure the sea-based offender is not committing crimes.

“That [person] moves along the water looking for opportunities,” Bernoties said. “We can’t pin every single property crime along the shore on him. But we are monitoring and we work closely with the RCMP and Oak Bay Search and Rescue.”

There’s also been property crime in that area on land as well as the water, Bernoties said.

READ MORE: Oak Bay Police nab man with a mask, backpack of tools

“I’m not sure if it is a spike in crime, but it’s been around several months.”

Caddy Bay has traditionally had a small live-aboard community who choose the lifestyle but the offender is one of the newer arrivals.

To help combat the crime, Oak Bay police assigned a liaison officer to the area. Despite multiple interactions and police suspicion, the offender remains at large.

“Crimes committed from the water can have additional challenges attached to them,” Bernoties said.

One thing people don’t understand is the condition of the property, which can change hands a lot by the time police confiscate it, Bernoties said. Marine equipment also tends to be expensive.

“Some people aren’t necessarily pleased when they find out [there are no charges],” Bernoties said. “They get their property back and want charges but that’s the nature we face in our court system and this society. We have to work with the parameters of the law.”

Another challenge is access to the ocean. Oak Bay police managed to recover multiple items removed from boats in Cadboro Bay and return them to owners. This comes despite not having their own boat. (The Victoria Police did have two boats but decommissioned them in 2015.)

This fall two expensive dinghies went missing. One belonged to Royal Victoria Yacht Club and was recovered by the RCMP South Island Marine Unit.

Last week Oak Bay police officers hopped on a motorboat at the Royal Victoria Yacht Club and recovered a missing dinghy as well. If needed, Oak Bay Police will ride as passengers on a citizen’s boat and let them drive, Bernoties said.

READ ALSO: American boat strikes reef, sinks near Oak Bay

As for the night time suspect, the deputy chief said people are seen regularly cruising Oak Bay by bike. They check door handles, especially one person in particular, who police have profiled but have yet to encounter and identify.

This person is “opportunistic,” focusing mostly on unlocked cars and other unlocked valuables and hits Uplands and surrounding area.

If you see someone with missing property, call the police for assistance, Bernoties said.

“I wouldn’t encourage anyone to take on a property thief on their own. If it’s marine-related you can call us, and we might need assistance [with a boat]. What we’re finding in these cases is the perpetrators don’t want conflict with human beings. But generally, don’t approach them.”

reporter@oakbaynews.com

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