Watch out, they are stealing sailboats. What’s going on

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Two sailboat thefts in less than a month, what is happening in the seas of Cilento? From the beginning of April to date there have been two thefts of charter boats in Campania. The pattern is the same: they rent the boat, weld regularly, while sailing the satellite tracker goes off and the boat disappears. Some similarities between the two thefts suggest a well-organized criminal pattern.

Two thefts in less than a month. What happened to them?

The first theft occurred the week of Easter; it was a 2006 Beneteau Cyclades 43 moored at Marina d’Arechi (Salerno) and chartered by a person in his mid-40s. The second, however, last week, a 2017 Bavaria CR 51 moored in Procida (a skippered lease). Of both thefts, contact was lost in the Cilento waters.


They steal a Cyclades 43 on Easter weekend

Ciro Cassarano, administrator of Youboat Italia, recounts in disbelief,“You always fear that the customer might do damage or get hurt, never did I think they would steal my boat.” The theft occurred over Easter weekend. The client, an Italian with an accent mixed between Campania and Lazio, contacts him through a rental portal: he wants to surprise his girlfriend and take her on a week-long cruise in the waters of Cilento.

The Cyclades 43 that was stolen during the Easter vacations was based at Marina d'Arechi in Salerno, Italy.
The Cyclades 43 that was stolen during the Easter vacations was based at Marina d’Arechi in Salerno, Italy.

Friday check-in all quiet. They sign the contract, which is paid off, and the guy shows up with a magnum of champagne and decorates the cabin for his girlfriend’s arrival from Milan. The next day, Cyrus tracks the satellite tracker aboard the boat and makes sure everything is going well: the weather is not the best so he advises clients to seek shelter. Via WhatsApp they send him a video from Palinuro Bay, everything seems to be normal.

Tracker stops working

On Sunday, the satellite tracker stops working, perhaps an error-think the renter-but being Easter, the company responsible for providing the service is closed and there is no way to verify what happened. You always think the customer is bona fide, so after receiving an additional video of reassurance from the boat anchored in Palinuro, Cyrus decides to wait for the system to work again. On Tuesday, the bitter discovery: the satellite tracking service informed him that the system had been shut down.

At this point the renter calls the customer and asks for location information, pretending not to know that the satellite tracker has been turned off. The client prevaricates, and then Cyrus goes to the police headquarters to have the documents provided to him checked. They are false, as are all tax data, in fact the electronic invoice is rejected by the IRS for incorrect tax code. He files a lawsuit for theft and sends a photo of the boat to all harbor master’s offices. From Palinuro they reply that they found a tender with a buffer battery and locator on it.

In touch until the last day

Until Friday he maintains contact with the thieves, pretending not to know about the theft. He tries to pinpoint their location, but through technological tricks they always manage to mask it. The cell phone number provided is foreign, and Carabinieri are unable to identify the holder. On Friday night the last contact, the thieves pretended to have sheltered in a harbor waiting for the weather to improve and then set course for Salerno, but by then the boat was probably already abroad (perhaps in Tunisia).

The tender was found in Palinuro Bay, with a buffer battery and satellite tracking system on board.
The tender was found in Palinuro Bay, with a buffer battery and satellite tracking system on board.

Tracker printouts then show that the boat, contrary to what had been stated, left the port of embarkation on Friday midnight, and not early Saturday morning. They stopped for a long time (about two hours) in Ogliastro Bay in the middle of the night, perhaps to disassemble the tracker or change the crew, and then left for Palinuro. To date, the insurance company-the boat had a bodies policy-is still investigating the case, waiting to compensate the charter company.


A Bavaria CR 51 goes missing

Last week saw the second theft. The boat, a two-week skippered charter with boarding in Procida, disappeared from a port in Calabria the day before it was to be returned. Again the tracker stopped working a few days after embarkation, at about the same latitudes as the Cyclades 43. Unlike the theft of the first boat, however, the documents and people who chartered the Bavaria 51, including the skipper, are real. The same people then filed a complaint about the theft, but it is not explained how the tracker had been turned off days before the fact, nor how there are no receipts or documents to prove that the boat was actually moored in a port.

Project Ocean's Bavaria 51 disappeared from port the day before redelivery
Project Ocean’s Bavaria 51 disappeared from port the day before redelivery

Roberta di Vaio of Progetto Oceano is speechless, in addition to the damage she will have to compensate customers who booked for the summer season. “They are on their knees, ours is a small fleet. I haven’t been able to work calmly for days. In 25 years in the business, this had never happened to me. After what happened, it is hard to go back to trusting the people you entrust your boat to, and while talking about it I don’t think it will help us recover it, at least I hope it will help stop this series of thefts and find a solution for us in the industry to protect ourselves in these cases.

James Barbaro

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