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In hot pursuit

AUG. 29 — When a resident of Olympia, Wash., discovered his 34-foot pleasure boat missing, he hit the ceiling — and then took to the skies.

The owner had taken his boat, valued at around $180,000, to be serviced at U.S. Marine Sales and Service in Olympia, Wash. It vanished overnight, according to The Olympian newspaper. Thinking it was a lost cause, he gave up hope of ever seeing it again — until a local realtor spotted the boat at a gas station near Shelton, Wash.

A couple was towing the boat using a pickup truck far too small for the load, which raised suspicions. The realtor said the pickup sagged low to the ground due to the weight. They mentioned to the realtor they were heading for Port Ludlow, which is 60 miles north of Olympia. The information was passed onto the owner, who then chartered a small plane to track the vehicle along Highway 101.

The owner spotted his vessel about 10 miles south of Port Ludlow, and the pilot flew low twice so he could verify it was his. The owner then called the Olympia police from his cell phone while the pilot continued to follow the couple for 20 miles, according to The Olympian. The rig was soon stopped by JeffersonCounty authorities.

The county sheriff’s deputies are investigating the possibility that this couple was part of a boat theft ring that could be responsible for as many as six boat thefts in Western Washington this year.

— Elizabeth Ellis