Suspected thieves make off with high-tech boat navigation equipment

12 boats were burglarized in Apalachicola Tuesday morning, according to the Franklin County...
12 boats were burglarized in Apalachicola Tuesday morning, according to the Franklin County Sheriff's Office. (WJHG/WECP)(WJHG)
Published: May. 28, 2020 at 9:11 PM CDT
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A suspected thief made off with navigation equipment from twelve boats in Franklin County.

The sheriff's office is offering a reward to anyone who has information leading to an arrest.

Franklin County Sheriff A.J. Smith said the electronics are valued at more than $100,000, and are important to boaters' livelihoods.

"Every day I'm not out on the water I'm missing out on business," said charter captain David Fowlkes.

The Franklin County Sheriff's Office is looking for the suspects in a burglary at Scipio Creek Marina in Apalachicola Tuesday morning.

Sheriff Smith said these boats are part of local fishermen's livelihoods.

"It takes a pretty sorry individual to take food off a man's table, and that's what they've done. Some of them couldn't go fishing, they've had to go get new electronics, so it's a hardship. We're just coming on the outer edge of this pandemic so it really hits us hard," said Smith.

Fowlkes said when he found out, he was with his family about to go fishing when he noticed a hole in his boat's dashboard.

"Electronics are very important to modern day fishing. It's where we get our weather, how we know where our spots are, especially offshore. It also has our bottom machine, it lets us know what depth we're fishing at. It's a lot of our information that we use to find the fish," said Fowlkes.

Fowlkes said this was a really tough blow to his businesses, especially while still recovering from Hurricane Michael and just now starting back up during the coronavirus pandemic.

"Being a charter captain is what I do for a living, so missing any time at all is hard,” said Fowlkes.

The sheriff's office is investigating whether this burglary is connected to similar ones in Pensacola and Naples, Florida.

Smith is also asking that anyone who has security camera footage facing Highway 98 in Apalachicola to let them know, because it could help their investigation.

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