The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office is asking Destin residents to help ensure that the burglar behind a rash of rod and reel robberies doesn’t become the one that got away.
After an inquiry by The Log, The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office pinpointed “a number of thefts of rods and reels from boats” in Destin, especially in the last couple weeks.
The reports began with Heather Thomas, who owns Destin Vacation Boat Rentals. Thomas posted to The Log’s Facebook page that “there have been a string of robberies along the harbor and bay area lately. The thieves are targeting waterfront homes and are coming in at night and taking things (Yeti coolers, expensive fishing poles, etc) off of docks and boats. We had two really nice rods stolen from our dock last night… Please spread the word so people can be aware!”
Some of the recent cases include:
On July 13, the Sheriff’s Office reported that someone burglarized a boat on Gulf Shore Drive and stole fishing gear. Witnesses had spotted two people in a kayak near the boat very early that morning.
On July 17, deputies fielded a call from Vera Cruz Drive of rods stolen off a boat in the harbor, but the owner did not want to do a report.
On July 21, a man reported that someone had stolen a fishing rod and reel off the vessel the Dawg Hunter.
A day later, rod and reels were stolen from a boat in the back yard of an Indian Bayou Drive home.
Tim Broom, vice president of Half Hitch Tackle, said it can be difficult preventing thievery of this kind.
“Unfortunately, locks only keep honest people out,” he said. “The only thing you can really do to protect yourself is have some kind of security systems on your boat with cameras.”
He also noted that some higher line fishing gear has serial numbers, which makes it easier to track.
If anyone notices suspicious activity or has information on any of these thefts, spokeswoman Michele Nicholson asks that they call the OCSO immediately or Emerald Coast Crime Stoppers AT 863-TIPS OR 1-800-654-TIPS.
“And of course in light of these thefts, we recommend everyone keep their fishing gear locked away — whether it’s in a boat on the water or in a backyard,” Nicholson said.