Bug splatter gives detectives a clue in Jacksonville boat caper
By Dana Treen
Love bugs may finally be good for something other than attracting each other.
For the owner of a 26-foot sport fisherman, they provided evidence that his boat had been taken from its stall at a Jacksonville storage lot in May, a time of the year when the bugs are prolific on Florida highways.
Back then, customs agents and the Florida Highway Patrol stopped a blue Dodge pickup in West Palm Beach and asked the three occupants about the Hydro Sport boat they were pulling. The police report didn't indicate why they were stopped, but the men said they borrowed the boat in Jacksonville and were on their way to a fishing tournament.
The boat hadn't been reported stolen, so they were released.
Later, officers contacted the boat's owner, Israel Guibas, because the men's story sounded fishy.
Guibas said Thursday he told them the boat hadn't been moved since last year. When he went to the Shad Road storage lot, the boat was parked - with its center console covered in dead love bugs.
"I hadn't used it in quite some time," Guibas, 50, said, noting they must have hauled it back as quickly as possible hoping nobody would notice it had been missing.
Investigators discovered one of the men in the truck stopped in West Palm had rented a space at the same Shad Road storage yard about two weeks prior. A manager there recognized pictures of two of the men and told police he thought it was strange they hadn't moved anything in, Guibas said.
With that time stamp they were able to review security video, and it showed they were "taking my boat and a couple others and jet skis," he said.
On Tuesday, police charged Miguel F. Hernandez Benitez, 21, of Hialeah and Alain Nelson Fundora Reni, 29, of Miami on two counts of grand theft. They had been arrested on warrants in the case a week earlier in Miami.
A third co-defendant, Reinaldo Acosta Jr., 23, of Jacksonville, was charged in May with four counts of grand theft and two counts of motor vehicle theft. Acosta rented a space at the storage yard, where his access code was later matched to surveillance images of vehicles hauling watercraft away.
All three were in the Duval County jail Thursday.
Guibas said the funny thing was the same guys in the video came back and took the boat a second time. But the tires on the trailer were low so they returned it.
"It motivated me to start using it again," Guibas said of the 2002 Hydro Sport he bought for $110,000.
He's since relocated it.
Times-Union writer Scott Butler contributed to this report.[email protected]
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Read more at Jacksonville.com: http://jacksonville.com/news/crime/2011-07-28/story/bug-splatter-gives-detectives-clue-jacksonville-boat-caper#ixzz1TdhXrLV8
Considering the number of boat thefts of this type, it's nice to hear that the cops are being proactive.
This also shows the value of a good security camera system in an investigation.
"Today is MINE"
Are you sure the officer asked to see the boat registration? The article doesn't say if they received any sort of citation. If someone is pulled over, but not issued a citation, is there any sort of documentation of the traffic stop? If not, and they didn't get a ticket, how would they get caught after the boat was reported stolen, with nothing to link them, other than the officer's memory of where the stop took place and their appearance. That's assuming the stolen boat report would ever cross the pass of the office that stopped them.
Poor wording on my choice. I'm just curious if they were asked for the boat registration when they were pulled over.
I'm trying to remember if I've ever been pulled over while towing a boat...but I don't think that's happened.
We're probably thinking it out more than the thieves did...
Is "The Keeper's?"