Thieves are taking batteries and other items from boats docked along a northern Indiana river near South Bend, according to local authorities.
St. Joseph County police have received more than a dozen theft reports over the past couple of weeks from boat owners along about a 2 mile-section of the St. Joseph River around the town of Osceola. Some residents estimate that as many as 30 boats in the area have been hit by the thefts.
No one has reported seeing the thieves, although one boat owner said he heard a small boat motor at night, Sgt. Bill Redman tells the South Bend Tribune. Although the boat owner didn’t see anything, he found his boat’s battery gone the next morning.
“You’re looking at two and a half miles, roughly, of distance between the furthest east and the furthest that was reported to the west, so that’s a pretty good distance along the river,” Redman said. “It definitely raises eyebrows.”
The thieves have mainly been taking boat batteries, but other items, such as stereos and tackle boxes, have also been stolen, according to Redman.
Ritch Williams, a local resident who hauls and stores boats, thinks multiple people are responsible for the thefts.
“It’s got to be more than one,” he said. “You can’t cause this much mayhem with one person.”
After Bob Constable heard about the string of thefts, he discovered his own boat battery was missing. He said he’s confused by what the motive would be since the used batteries are only worth several dollars.
“I think it’s crazy to take that kind of risk for a few bucks,” he said, “but it is what it is — no sense losing sleep over it. I just feel fortunate my boat wasn’t damaged.”