From a cruiser: (posted here by "Lighthouse")
To whom it may concern:
A recent series of boat invasions and burglaries on board yachts have the yachting community in the Marshall Islands very concerned. Seen as way to avoid the cyclone season in the South Pacific more and more yachts have been arriving to the Marshall Islands to spend the winter. Cruisers have been told that it is a safe place to leave their boat while they make family or business trips to their home country. The last 3-4 months have seen at least a dozen break-ins or attempted break-ins. Tens of thousands of dollars worth of gear has been stolen, boats trashed, dinghies slashed and yachts cut adrift in the night.
I have been here in the Marshall Islands this time around for over 2 years. I work here and live aboard my boat. I have been a live aboard sailor and cruiser for over 25 years and have circumnavigated once. I am not a newbie. In the two years that I have been here I have been boarded by pirates/thieves on 3 occasions. The first time occurred shortly after my arrival two years ago. I was boarded by 2 men at midnight while I was sleeping. I was assaulted, my face was cut in the ensuing scuffle and I only managed to make them flee when I called for the assistance of other yachtsmen. This was reported to the local police and to the newspaper. I was called in to ID one man at police headquarters a week later and I gave them a positive ID. I never heard from them again.
The second time was during the latest series of break-ins. While I was away from my boat for several months helping out the Jost Van Dyke Preservation Society’s boat building project on JVD in the BVI’s my boat was boarded, trashed and I was ripped off for thousands of dollars worth of gear. It was reported to the police by fellow yachtsmen and upon my return I followed up with another report of things stolen. I found out at that time that at least 8 other boats had been forcibly entered and computers, fishing gear, dive gear and electronic equipment had been stolen. I recently heard that the police had questioned 5 young men, one of whom admitted to being on my boat. I asked the police that he be charged with breaking and entering, criminal trespass and grand larceny. The police detective apologized to me but said that since she was just one person with no car available and no help from other detectives there was little she could do. The young man, she said, denied having taken anything while aboard my boat! Let me just add at this point that we have heard that the young men allegedly involved have threatened bodily harm or death to anyone who turns them in!
The third time was even more recently when I was boarded in broad daylight by one of four boys who pulled alongside in 2 kayaks. They were spotted by a neighbor and turned over to the police who promptly told us that these were not the ones who were breaking in to the yachts. The four were released to the custody of their parents.
Boats that have come north for the winter are leaving daily in fear of their safety and for their property. The Marshall Islands have become one of the most dangerous places to visit by yachtsmen as a result of this activity. It is unfortunate because the Marshallese People are generally very kind and welcoming but these young men consider themselves gangsters and above the law which is incapable of stopping them.
Charles G. Handy
S/V Deviant, US Documentation No. 1055534
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