CLEARWATER — The first day with his new boat was going just as Mike Parker had planned.
He left his Central Florida home at dawn Thursday to pick up the 22-foot boat he'd bought in Clearwater. He took it for a spin in the Gulf of Mexico. But when he brought it back to the Seminole Boat Ramp, things got weird.
In a flash, six Clearwater police officers not only had boarded the vessel, but also used it to capture a fleeing man who was wanted for grand theft.
"The cops christened the boat," said Parker, 65.
The man police apprehended — Jonathan Hansen, 25, of 1763 Ridgewood St. in Clearwater — faces charges of grand theft and resisting arrest without violence, said Clearwater police spokeswoman Elizabeth Watts. Authorities say Hansen is believed to have stolen two vacuums from a Bed Bath & Beyond and a security system from a CompUSA in Sunset Point Shopping Center on U.S. 19.
More charges are pending.
Officers spent much of the morning looking for Hansen, Watts said. After they spotted him near Marshall Street and Sunset Drive, he jumped into the Intracoastal Waterway to avoid being arrested.
Shortly thereafter, police arrived at the boat ramp and asked Parker, a retiree originally from Texas, if they could use his boat.
"They said, 'Would you be a good Samaritan and help us?' " Parker said.
He did, and a few minutes later, police found Hansen riding in another vessel that had picked him up.
According to Parker, when the officers on board — T.J. Donnelly, Joe Falcone, Lamon Green, Jeremy Jenkins, Leonard Merritt and Christian Zarra — confronted Hansen, he jumped into the water again and tried to get away. But police quickly pulled him into Parker's boat.
To thank Parker, authorities gave him a Clearwater police patch.
"I said, 'Could I get a get-out-of-jail-free card?' " Parker said, laughing.
Times photographer Douglas R. Clifford contributed to this report.