Daily Dispatch

Skippers angry as yachts in EL harbour suffer spate of thefts

Electric cables for security cameras stolen during lockdown period


A spate of thefts from yachts at the Buffalo River Yacht Club in East London has skippers hot under the collar.

Three yachts were targeted in a series of break-ins at the club in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Rhythm, owned by Ben Niehaus, Spirit belonging to Conrad Bennett and Roy Crossley’s Endeavour were all ransacked and damaged, and items stolen included batteries, winches, poles, tools, safety gear and clothing.

The loss to Rhythm was estimated at about R30,000 and to Endeavour, R2,000.

Bennett said this was the second time that his yacht had been broken into in 2020, with the first incident in February.

In total, the intruders stole goods worth about R32,000.

According to Zurich internatio­nal insurance group, theft is a common occurrence at yacht clubs around the world, with outboard motors being particular­ly attractive to thieves.

Vice-commodore at the club and city attorney Niehaus said club members had noticed illegal intrusions at the club in recent times, with trespasser­s ransacking three yachts on Tuesday.

At any one time, there are about 29 vessels moored at the club, which has 45 members with facilities that include a clubhouse with a kitchen, pub and conference venue, based on informatio­n on its website.

“All our members involved in water sport are very concerned,” Niehaus said. “This is an infraction of our rights. We’re easy targets — we have to leave our boats here unattended.”

He said it would take some time to fix equipment which had been damaged.

Damage to the yards still has to be assessed. Bennett said since February, the yacht club had upgraded security measures, including installing an electric fence, motion sensor lights, four cameras, a new main gate, flood lights and gates on the jetty walk-ons.

However, during the lockdown, all the electric cables were stolen from the walk-ons.

In the past two weeks there were three incidents, before Tuesday morning’s break-in.

He said criminals trespassin­g on the yacht club premises would have to come through the port authority security gate.

He suspected fishermen were responsibl­e, as owners often found fish blood left behind, along with fishing line and bait.

After the latest incident, the club was considerin­g installing motion detection beams and armed response security.

The club was also closing off a piece of property that ran into the river close to the loading dock for Mercedes-Benz.

Niehaus said entry to the property was now limited, with three more gates being installed. He confirmed that a case was opened with security at Portnet Authority.

Bennett said after the February break-in, he had opened a case with the police, but nothing had been reported to him since then, though the police did lift fingerprin­ts from his vessel.

Police spokespers­on Col Sibongile Soci did not respond to a Dispatch query about the break-ins.

 ?? Picture: SINO MAJANGAZA ?? EASY TARGET: Conrad Bennett’s yacht, Spirit, has suffered two break-ins this year while moored at the Buffalo River Yacht Club.
Picture: SINO MAJANGAZA EASY TARGET: Conrad Bennett’s yacht, Spirit, has suffered two break-ins this year while moored at the Buffalo River Yacht Club.

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