MA Boaters Experience Gas Theft

While this doesn’t seem to be a widespread problem yet, it’s worth looking out for.

With gas selling for about $5 a gallon at South Shore (MA) marinas, burglars have started going for the big gasoline containers boat owners sometimes leave on deck, rather than for fishing gear and marine electronics.

Harbormasters and marina managers say on-the-water thefts are still fairly uncommon – typically just a handful per community each summer – but the incidents they do see are now more likely to involve a gas container left on deck than other valuables.

“They camp out on the islands, and when they run out of gas, they’ll go into the mooring fields and steal,” said Lt. Robert Gillan of the Quincy Police Department’s Marine Unit. “It’s a new phenomenon we came across really last year.”

Gillan said thefts from boats in Quincy have been pretty steady – averaging three or four a month during the summer – but he said thieves are now more likely to go for gas than gadgets.

Vinnie Ditullio, dockmaster at Hingham’s Shipyard Marinas, said thieves may be losing interest in boat electronics, like GPS and radar units, because newer vessels have the devices built into the dashboard. He said a few thieves have targeted fishing rods, tackle boxes and other belongings left above deck.

“The rule of thumb with your rods, your reels and your electronics is if they’re not fixed to the boats, put them away,” he said.

That advice also applies to the six-gallon red plastic gas containers favored by many boaters.

Gillan, the Quincy lieutenant, said gas thefts are underreported because boaters are unlikely to cut into their time on the water to spend a morning filling out paperwork at the police station.

Because of the fire risk, public safety officials warn against keeping gas containers below deck, so boaters who want to comply have to either tote their gas containers home or pour the contents into their boats’ gas tanks.

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