Florida authorities probe equipment thefts from boats

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The Brevard County (Fla.) Sheriff's Office says a group of skillful, well-rehearsed thieves are plaguing boat businesses, stealing thousands of dollars of equipment from boats along the highway.

Often it appears they'll see a boat that's visible from U.S. 1 in one of the area's many boatyards, deputies told WESH, an NBC affiliate in Orlando. The thieves back up a truck, create a fence hole and start stripping the equipment, investigators said.

"They're definitely pros, the way they dismantled everything, so they knew how to get in there and get out really quick and quiet," boat owner Bob Miller told the station.

Miller's boat has empty holes where it once had flat-screen displays for water depth and navigation charts. The $200,000 boat once had a nice radar system, too. The boat was Miller's getaway with the family.

"Spring break is next week, and my boat is down and I can't take them out during spring break and go fishing," Miller said.

All along U.S. 1, boatyards and boat-related businesses have been hit, deputies said.

In one case, the motors were stolen from a boat that was sitting in the backyard at a deputy sheriff’s home. It's not unlike a boat theft plague that hit two years ago, when thieves were towing away yachts, trailer and all.

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