ST. PETERSBURG — Police believe a stolen yacht was abandoned near North Shore Park on Saturday morning after it ran aground on a sandbar.
The 56-foot pleasure boat, named Too Much Fun, was stolen from the City of St. Petersburg Municipal Marina, investigators believe. Police identified the owners, but they are out of state and hadn't been reached Saturday. The boat, valued at half a million dollars or more, can't be confirmed stolen until police speak with the owners.
Police say the boat was taken early Saturday from the marina. Whoever pulled away apparently forgot to take a rope off a piling, which snapped off as the boat pulled away. Just before noon today, police heard from the Coast Guard that the boat had run aground about 30 yards off North Shore Park.
The boat was leaning left in shallow water as police kept watch to make sure passers-by didn't wade out and climb aboard.
It seemed the boat wasn't damaged, but investigators were waiting until a towing company could pull it off the sandbar at high tide early today before they take fingerprints and do a thorough inspection.
"The biggest problem is you have to wait until high tide to get it off the ground," said St. Petersburg police Officer W. Daniels. "Right now, it would take so much power you'd probably damage the boat."
The boat caught the curiosity of pedestrians and bikers in the park. Matt Blaine, 44, looked out and wondered if the theft was related to the recent thefts of five high-priced Pinellas County boats. Investigators believe a criminal ring could be responsible for taking the go-fast boats sometimes used for smuggling.
Blaine has a boat at the St. Petersburg marina, but didn't think it would be an easy target for thieves. "I have a sailboat, so they're not getting anywhere fast," he said.
Stephanie Garry can be reached at (727) 892-2374 or firstname.lastname@example.org.