SWFMIA forum to address thefts at dealerships

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The Southwest Florida Marine Industries Association will hold a special forum to address the growing theft problem impacting dealers along the sunshine state’s west coast.

“I don’t have to tell you that the marine industry on Florida’s west coast faces a growing problem with break-ins and thefts,” wrote SWFMIA’s executive director John Good in an email to all members. “Virtually every one of our member dealerships and marinas has suffered a significant loss or losses in the last couple of years. The cost in lost and damaged property is becoming staggering so we need to find ways to stem this problem.”

This will be the second forum on theft losses for SWFMIA members. Following last year’s event held in Venice, Florida, huge strides were made in establishing heightened communications between law enforcement and SWFMIA members. For example, in the Lee County Sheriff’s Department, Sgt. Tim Galloway was assigned to take the full-time lead on dealing with marine thefts. It’s expected many different Law Enforcement Agencies will be represented at this year’s forum.

Ironically, as Good was emailing members his forum announcement, Sgt. Galloway was sending him the following notice:

NOR-TEC GOT HIT - Sometime between 02-19-18, 19:45 hours to 02-20-18, 06:00 hours, unknown person (s) gained entry to the fenced in compound by cutting the northwest fence. Once entry was made, four Nor-Tec vessels were boarded, and nine Propulsion Control Modules, two Garmin 7616 series GPS systems, one Mercury vessel viewer, and two fishing poles (2 custom made Rods with 2 Shimano 80 Wide reels) were taken from the vessels. 2 of the 4 vessels were displayed at the Miami Boat Show.
Sgt. Galloway and NCID Det. Patton conducted an extensive crime scene and surrounding business canvas. Nor-Tec video surveillance was viewed to be of poor quality and of very little use other than time estimation of crime occurrence. Crime Scene Technician K. Snyder responded and processed the scene. DNA swabs were taken from various mounting bolts, center consoles and mounting brackets. Latent fingerprints were attempted however indications show gloves were used. Serial, Model and/or part numbers for some of the stolen equipment were obtained and will be uploaded into Spillman. Other items are pending.

“Obviously, we have a long way to go,” said Good “But it’s time to meet again. I cannot emphasize how critical it is for every marine business to attend.”

The agenda will include: A review of recent incidents; What preventions are businesses using; What technology is out there; What role are (or should) manufacturers be playing; How do we improve communications within the marine industry and with Law Enforcement.

“We are going to encourage every law enforcement agency to appoint a ‘go to’ detective on marine thefts and make sure they are communicating with each other and the marine industry,” said Good.

The “2 Industry Forum on Theft Problems” is scheduled for Wednesday, March 14, from 9:30 am to 2:00 pm at the Charlotte County Fairgrounds Expo Building 2333 El Jobean Road, Port Charlotte, Fla., 33948 (Lunch will be served.)

To register simply send an email to: John@swfmia.com

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