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Oakland estuary being targeted by ‘pirates’

A stretch of the Oakland Estuary, the waterway that separates Oakland from Alameda.
Dan Brekke
Flickr / Creative Commons
A stretch of the Oakland Estuary, the waterway that separates Oakland from Alameda.

The Bay Area News Group reportsthat the crime wave has been going on for several weeks against the local boating community that occupies both sides of the 800-foot waterway separating Oakland and Alameda.

Two weeks ago, half the boats at the Alameda Community Sailing Center – a children's non-profit group – were stolen. Yacht clubs and residents along the estuary say they have been threatened by thieves scouting out the docks, with several small boats and dinghies being stolen in the last three weeks.During a recent meeting of the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission, one local boat owner described the situation as piracy and added that some confrontations had devolved into hand-to-hand combat.

There are no exact figures on the number of vessels or other property that has been stolen during the recent crime spree. Some wealthier waterfront residents have become vigilantes and recover their property, when they are found abandoned.

Some have pointed the finger at so called “anchor-outs” – those who live on abandoned boats – and homeless shoreside communities.The city has passed laws to dispose and remove some of the derelict boats.

Local law enforcement efforts haven't been able to do much to stop the upsurge.

The Coast Guard – whose mission is national security – also helps out when it can. The understaffed Oakland Police Department has only one officer assigned to the estuary – instead of what should be six full-time officers. And the officers assigned to the Alameda Police Department’s marine unit have other full-time beats.