Thieves target pricey boats on Florida’s west coast

A criminal ring thought to be working its way up Florida’s west coast is suspected in the recent thefts of five high-priced Pinellas County boats, the type often used to smuggle illegal immigrants into the country.

“These are not random acts,” said Charlie Meacham, a Jacksonville-based private investigator working for several insurance companies to try to recover the stolen boats. “These guys are professionals. They are in and out, and before you know it, the boat is in Mexico.”

Meacham, who is investigating several of the Pinellas County thefts, just returned from Cancun, where he says he found 44 boats reported stolen in Florida.

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