CASE OF THE STOLEN YACHT
Two Florida Men Plead Guilty After Global Hunt Finds the Boat…and Them
The perfect crime?
Two young men from
Florida must have thought so when they motored a $700,000 sailing yacht
out of a South Carolina marina and into the open waters of the Atlantic
one evening early last year. “We’ll be hundreds of miles
away before anyone even notices it’s gone,” they thought.
A full moon and a full tank of gas only eased their getaway.
didn’t know was this: it wasn’t just any yacht. It
was a rare French-made Beneteau 57—one of just 50 in the world
and the only one in North America—complete with teak decks, a
mahogany stateroom, and a 75-foot mast. Its presence in Charleston
was well known among sailing aficionados.
not so easy to hide a prized yacht, remarked the lead investigators
on the case—Special Agent Robert Derr in our Charleston
office and Lt. James Williams, a former FBI Agent now with the Charleston
Police Department, so they mounted a major publicity campaign, appearing
on national television and issuing alerts for the missing craft. The
owner’s insurance company also offered a $10,000 reward and sent
fliers to marinas worldwide. “You name it and we did it,” Derr
than a month later, a tourist on Grand Bahama Island who knew all about
boats spotted the unmistakable 57-foot craft. Our Legal Attaché agent
in Chile (whose territory at the time included the Bahamas) contacted
local authorities, who verified that it was the missing yacht.
the thieves? A few days after their theft, they had realized
how valuable the craft was and returned to the U.S. to lay low. When
the boat was found, they packed their bags, headed to Paris, and then
on to London.
But it didn’t
take long to track them down. They’d left plenty of
evidence behind on the boat. And when they heard we were hot on their
trail, they quickly returned to the U.S. and turned themselves in.
soon learned the truth: the two men had set out to steal a
yacht, but their first choices were either occupied, padlocked, or
pointed away from an easy getaway. Then they saw the Beneteau, with
its high tech dashboard and navy-blue hull, and were immediately smitten.
set in. Last month, Kevin Simmons and Jeremiah Greene pled
guilty to federal charges of transporting stolen goods. They face up
to 10 years in prison.
of the story for boat owners? Don’t leave the keys on