Arno and Angela Justman enjoyed Saturday afternoon out on their boat on Norfork Lake, relaxing and listening to satellite radio plugged into a power amp. Arno stopped by Quarry Marina early Monday morning to look for his missing wallet. It wasn't on the boat. Neither was the power amp.
"The tarps were pulled up on five or six boats near ours," Arno said. "Apparently, it's a rampant problem right now."
Most of the boats hit at Quarry Marina appeared to be high-end ski or pontoon boats, according to Arno.
"We're gathering information to determine exactly what is missing," said Sgt. Robert Buschbacher of the Baxter County Sheriff's investigation team. "Brand, model and serial number are the three most important pieces of information you can provide us."
Buschbacher recommends writing product serial numbers in owner's manuals and filling out the postcard that often comes with new products, even if you throw it in a box or envelope instead of sending it in.
"Serial numbers create a uniqueness that helps us locate missing items," he said.
Timing is also important when reporting a theft. Some thefts are reported within 24 hours, Buschbacher said. The sooner a theft is reported, the better the chances are of recovering the items.
"But many people are returning to the area for the first time since last fall," he said. Items stolen months ago can still be recovered by checking pawn shop records, especially if the owner has serial numbers.
Buschbacher's advice for boatowners is to take home everything on your boat you can. Assume that anything you leave could be stolen. He also suggests taking the faceplate off your radio if possible, or buying the kind with handles on the sides that allow you to pull the radio out when you leave. Sound system components and fishing tackle are the most common items stolen, he said. Tackle is often stolen to be used, not sold, and is rarely recovered.
"Harden the target," Buschbacher said. "Make it harder to steal."
Leaving a wallet on a boat is pretty attractive to a thief.
"It was my worst nightmare," Arno said. "But I found my wallet at home. It had just gotten covered up. And, I have the serial number of my power amp."