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Date of Issue: September 01, 2010

50-foot boat stolen from Key Royale dock

After six hours of hail, rain and lighting pounded the small airplane, Scott Elliott returned to Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport Aug 21 without the boat he had been hoping to spot from the air.

Elliott had been combing the Gulf of Mexico waters south of Anna Maria Island, looking for his 50-foot Viking cruiser that was stolen Aug. 13 or Aug. 14 from behind his home on Key Royale Drive in Holmes Beach.

The weather to the north was even worse, and Elliott said he couldn’t search the water in that direction.

“There was not one 50-foot Viking in the water,” Elliott said. “But there were 60- and 55-foot Vikings.”

The theft of Elliott’s boat is just one such occurrence last month. On Aug. 8, the Holmes Beach Police Department responded to a call of a stolen 31-foot Edgewater center-console from the 600 block of North Point Drive. The boat was valued at $125,000. Also, Carmine Galati, of Holmes Beach, had a large boat stolen from his dock as well this month. Galati is the brother of Chris Galati, owner of Galati Yacht Sales in Anna Maria.

Meanwhile, in Pinellas County, a 43-foot yacht on auto-pilot washed up Aug. 25 on Redington Beach. The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed the vessel had been reported missing from a marina somewhere in the area of Yucatan, Mexico, according to BayNews 9. Officials have no leads as to how the yacht made it ashore at Redington Beach. Four audio speakers on the boat were missing.

Prior to the theft of the 50-foot Viking, Elliott had been on vacation for the summer. He said it was awful learning his boat, worth nearly $1 million, was gone.

“It was like someone kicked you in the stomach,” Elliott said.

Elliott described the boat as a white convertible with large outriggers. “The sick part is, I didn’t have any insurance on it,” he said.

The vessel was so large, Elliott said, he simply did not think anyone would attempt to steal it. “I never dreamed anybody would steal it without taking more precautions,” he said.

He didn’t even think someone could navigate it out of the narrow canal.

“It takes darn near a captain to drive that thing,” he said. “The canal is 70 feet wide. Even to back it out of the canal, I figured there’s no way someone could do it without crashing or something.”

Elliott said he has no neighbors who might have been able to spot a suspicious person leaving with his boat.

“We had been gone almost two months, and the grass had grown up some in the yard,” he said. “It probably turned out stealing the boat was easy pickings.”

But Elliott didn’t give up on his boat, leaving SRQ Saturday morning and returning that afternoon.

Elliott, for one, is hoping the Aug. 24 arrests of four men in Punta Gorda for loitering and prowling may lead to the return of his boat.

According to a Punta Gorda WINK News Now Web post, the arrests were a result of criminal intelligence generated by a task force that indicated a luxury boat theft was likely to take place. A Punta Gorda Police Department officer observed one of the men standing by a 38-foot SeaRay. The suspect jumped into a canal in his attempt to flee law enforcement, the article said.

“It’s part of a theft ring, I think,” Elliott said.

The HBPD could not be reached for comment.

Anyone with information about the boat theft can call HBPD at 941-708-5804, or CrimeStoppers at 866-634-8477.