ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – Boat engines are being stolen at an alarming rate in St. Johns County, deputies said.
The latest theft occurred at RV Park Place, where four boat motors, with a combined value of $76,000, were stolen.
That brings the total from the string of thefts to $274,000.
On Thursday morning, an RV and boat storage business was broken into on State Road 16 between 1 and 3 a.m.
Bill Woodard is a boat lover, but overnight, his hobby turned into a painful problem when someone stole the motor off his boat and several others on S.R. 16. He said his engine was worth more than $10,000.
"It’s not just they’re taking motors, they’re literally cutting the motors off the boats," Woodard said.
For most of the morning, deputies were gathering evidence from the thefts, which were mainly of Yahama motors.
Woodard said it will cost him $15,000 to replace his motor.
"It’s unnerving," Woodard said. "Had a boat for 18 years and we just moved over to this area and we’ve had two motors stolen now within three months."
According to the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office, last year, there were 27 separate incidents in which at least one motors was stolen. This year, there have been 17 incidents, and it's happening all over the county.
After they're stolen, deputies said, the motors are being sent south or to another country.
Woodard said he believes it’s time to give up his love for boating.
"I’m probably selling the boat," he said. "This will probably do it for me. I’m a little frustrated as a boat owner right now. I’m probably going to let it go."
Woodard asked the public, if they know anything, to please call the Sheriff’s Office.
There is no way to track the motors, making it even more difficult to find the ones that were stolen.
The cost to replace a boat motor is anywhere from $10,000 to $130,000.
Officials are encouraging boat owners to store their boats in a place with 24-hour active monitoring.