‘East Bay Pirates’ Suspects Arrested After A Year Of Terrorizing Houseboat And Yacht Owners

If you’ve ever wondered what would happen if you mixed pirates with the Wet Bandits from “Home Alone,” we now have your answer. Police arrested three alleged seafaring burglars last week accused of robbing residents and businesses in the San Francisco Bay.

Surveillance video of a March 13 break-in at a business on San Francisco’s historic water front allowed police to pull a search warrant of small boats in the area, which led them to locating stolen property, the New York Post reports.

Boat thieves caught.

Photo: Oakland Police Department

This is apparently a big moment for residents living on houseboats and yachts on the 800-foot-wide waterway. Over the past year, they’ve been dealing with theft and physical confrontations from the “East Bay Pirates.” Starting during the summer of 2023, these guys used small boats to raid larger ships and steal valuables onboard. Boat owners would fight back, chasing the pirates across the San Francisco Bay.

This all happened on the Oakland-Alameda Estuary, which separates the two cities. It includes multiple marinas with about 3,000 boat slips, and many of those slips are used as permanent houseboats and yachts.

Here’s how this all started, according to the New York Post:

Last summer and fall, maritime burglars used small, stolen, or discarded boats to ransack large vessels and steal anything they could get their hands on.

Then they would either sink the ships or dump whatever was left of the boats miles away in Oakland Harbor or along its shorelines.

Some residents from the area shared their personal experiences of the situation in a number of municipal meetings last year, including the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission’s (BCDC) enforcement meeting, from The Post:

“The open shoreline of the (Oakland-Alameda) estuary is littered with sunken wrecks and derelict, end-of-life vessels, and crime has risen to truly intolerable levels,” former harbormaster Brock de Lappe said during an October BCDC meeting.

“Multiple vessels have been stolen and ransacked. Victims have had to resort to personally confronting the criminals to recover their property without the benefit of police support. Is this an appropriate activity for a 79-year-old senior?”

One woman said she rescued a man whose sailboat drifted into the bay without a motor or any way to get back to shore after one of the “pirates” cut his boat line during an argument.

Other residents told Fox News Digital they chased would-be thieves across the bay, and they shared videos of the chase and surveillance footage.

Dan Hill, who was one of the leaders in the area to bring the issue to the forefront, was one of dozens or more pounding the tables at municipal meetings, writing letters, and calling officials to address the problem.

Each “attack” and theft can cost the owner thousands to tens of thousands of dollars, Hill told Fox News Digital in a previous interview.

Over the weekend, he said the situation appeared to have been “cleaned up pretty good” and praised the arrests.

This issue has not been an easy one to solve. For months, there have been jurisdictional issues and lower law enforcement staffing levels. It didn’t really get solved until the Oakland and Alameda police departments, along with the Coast Guard, teamed up. Police officials told the outlet it’s a “regional approach” to protect the waterway.

Still, while these guys may be behind bars, that doesn’t mean the problem is solved altogether. Oakland police tell the Post that the case is ongoing and thefts in and around the estuary are still under investigation.

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