Hawkins County

'Lake pirates' stealing expensive fishing equipment

'Lake pirates' stealing expensive fishing equipment

HAWKINS COUNTY, Tenn. - Thieves that use a boat to steal from other boats -- that's what Hawkins County authorities are trying to solve.

Hawkins County deputies are trying to catch these so called "lake pirates", who made off with expensive fishing gear from at least a half dozen boats.

Fishing is a popular sport in our region -- popular and expensive. Expensive boats and lots of pricey equipment are used to catch the fish. "It's hard telling how many thousands of dollars worth of stuff are in [my boat]. There are about 10 rods in there right now, rods and reels, tackle boxes. That whole big storage thing is just full of boxes of plugs I've collected over the years," longtime fisherman Don Bishop said.

It's that expensive gear that thieves were looking for when they hit the Chelaque Way Marina earlier this week. "The boat dock break-ins we usually have are land-based vehicles. They pull in the dock, and the trucks and trailers are sitting there. They see something inside, they just break in and get it. Chelaque Way thieves came in by boat to the marina," investigator John Pruitt tells us.

A nearby gated community along the lake has security in place, but not lakeside.

There were lots of victims like Joe Hodges. "At least a half a dozen [of us were affected]. There may be more, because a lot of folks are not there right now. They'll come for the weekend, and lo and behold they'll come down to their boats and stuff will be gone," Hodges says.

Not just stuff, but expensive stuff. Hodges says they could have been watching for the right time to strike. "I think they scoped it out beforehand. I think that they knew what they were doing. They didn't clean out everything, they cleaned out the expensive items," he said.

That puts up a red flag for those around the lake to beware of thieves coming to homes on the water.

If you have any information about these crimes, please contact Hawkins County investigators.

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