The yacht Change in Latitude lived up to its name last weekend when determined thieves spirited it from its berth in a Dania Beach marina.
Now comes the hard part: Where to hide it.
The yacht, an white Ocean Alexander Pilothouse, is 60 feet long.
“You can’t hide a 70-footer,” said Rich Hagen, a retired Broward Sheriff’s marine unit detective who owns International Maritime Consultants.
Three men were caught on video late Saturday night at the Harbour Towne Marina, laboring over the vessel for five hours. Apparently they manipulated fuel line fittings that had been removed. The reason: To prevent the boat’s theft.
About 1:25 a.m. Sunday, footage showed one man untying the fiberglass vessel’s dock lines and jumping on deck. Change in Latitude then sailed slowly off to points unknown.
The $700,000 yacht, registered in the Marshall Islands, had been repossessed in March from Colene and C. Gordon Gudeit of Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, according to a Broward Sheriff’s Office report.
Florida leads the U.S. in stolen watercraft, with 24 percent of the 5,537 thefts reported in 2013, the most recent year for available statistics, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau. There were only five yachts taken by thieves that year, the bureau said.
“It’s unusual for a 60-foot yacht to be stolen because of the expertise and knowledge required to run the boat,” said Sean Blue, an insurance analyst for AIG. “They’re also more identifiable and more noticeable. The names are more prominently displayed and oftentimes they’ll have a crew.”
There’s another reason big boats go missing less frequently, Hagen said. In South Florida, smaller, faster boats are more suited for trafficking in drugs and people.