CLEARWATER — The first day with his new boat was going just as Mike Parker had planned.
He left his home in The Villages in Central Florida at dawn Thursday. Once in Clearwater, he took his 22-foot Century Center Console for a spin in the Gulf of Mexico. But when Parker brought the boat back to the Seminole Boat Ramp, things got weird.
In a flash, six Clearwater police officers not only had boarded the vessel but used it to capture a man wanted for grand theft.
"The cops christened the boat," said Parker, 65.
Jonathan Hansen, 25, the man police apprehended, faces three counts of grand theft, said Clearwater police spokeswoman Elizabeth Watts. According to authorities, Hansen is believed to have stolen two vacuums from a Bed Bath & Beyond and a security system from a CompUSA, both of which are located at the Sunset Point Shopping Center on U.S. 19 in Clearwater.
Authorities spent much of the morning looking for Hansen, Watts said. After they spotted him near Marshall Street and Sunset Drive, he jumped into the water to avoid being arrested.
Shortly thereafter, police arrived at the Seminole Boat Ramp and asked Parker if they could use his boat. A few minutes later, they found Hansen riding in another vessel.
According to Parker, when police confronted Hansen he jumped into the water again and attempted to get away. But the authorities rode along side Hansen, grabbed him and pulled him into Parker's boat.
Times photographer Douglas R. Clifford contributed to this report. Keith Niebuhr can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4156.