They called it the case of 'What do you do with a drunken sailor?' or 'How on earth did the authorities help this boat thief to steal a luxury yacht?' or 'From sea captain to pirate and back to sea captain'. Whatever it is called, there are some red faces in Orange County this week as the word leaked out that local authorities had actually aided a drunk boat thief to get away after he had stolen a boat.
Experienced seaman Richard Rodriguez, 32, of Whittier, a suburb of Los Angeles, broke into the 78-foot boat, Stimulus, in Newport Harbor, found a set of keys and immediately headed for the open sea. However, he got into trouble even before he reached the ocean and was in danger of hitting a sea wall. Brazenly, he made a distress call to Harbor Patrol, and the call was answered.
Orange County Sheriff’s Lt. Jeff Hallock said the man operating the Stimulus seemed very familiar with the boat and didn’t exhibit any unusual behavior that made deputies suspicious. The man told deputies the boat was registered to a California corporation, and they didn’t have enough information to disprove that claim. They helped him free the boat and sent him happily on his way.
However, the next day the boat was reported as stolen and the hunt was on. When a Long Beach Police boat spotted the Stimulus, they approached, but the by-now very drunken sailor tried to ram the police boat, before being apprehended.
Rodriguez is now well and truly land-locked, in the County Jail, with charges against him of boating while intoxicated, assault on a police officer, criminal threats and grand theft of property, along with a sentencing enhancement for a $30,000 fraud warrant, Long Beach police spokeswoman Nancy Pratt said.
'It certainly was a drunken sea pirate adventure,' Long Beach police Detective Joseph Starbird told local media.
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