Police sink San Francisco Bay bandits after seafaring pirates terrorize houseboats, yachts


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Suspected seafaring bandits terrorizing San Francisco Bay residents are now landlocked in jail cells.

Three suspected maritime burglars accused of breaking into a business on Embarcadero, San Francisco’s iconic east-facing waterfront, were arrested in the Oakland-Alameda Estuary on March 28, Oakland police said.

It’s a major step forward for residents living in houseboats and yachts on the 800-foot-wide waterway, which endured almost a year of theft and physical confrontations with the so-called “East Bay Pirates.” 

Starting last summer, vagrants – believed to be from Oakland’s homeless encampments – used small boats to raid the large ships and steal valuables. Homeowners fought back and chased would-be thieves across San Francisco Bay.

SAN FRANCISCO BAY BOATERS FORCED TO FIGHT OFF ‘PIRATES’ WHO ARE STEALING SHIPS

Oakland police arrest alleged burglars as part of ongoing crackdown of seafaring bandits in the Oakland-Alameda Estuary.

Oakland police arrest alleged burglars as part of an ongoing crackdown on seafaring bandits in the Oakland-Alameda Estuary. (Oakland Police Department)

The suspects, who weren’t named, allegedly broke into a business on March 13. They were spotted on surveillance video in the estuary.

Law enforcement executed search warrants on the small boats and found the stolen property, according to Oakland police, which sent the case to the Alameda County District Attorney for charges.

The DA’s office didn’t immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s follow-up questions. 

SEABOUND BANDITS TERRORIZE SAN FRANCISCO BAY; SOME RESIDENTS BLAME SURGE OF NEARBY HOMELESS CAMPS

The Oakland-Alameda Estuary separates the two cities and includes multiple marinas with about 3,000 boat slips, where a community lives on houseboats and yachts.

Last summer and fall, maritime burglars used small, stolen or discarded boats to ransack large vessels and steal anything they could get their hands on. 

Then they would either sink the ships or dump whatever was left of the boats miles away in Oakland Harbor or along its shorelines.

Pirates terrorize Oakland Harbor4

Suspected pirates use a small boat to board large ships and yachts in Oakland Harbor. (Dan Hill)

Stolen items from a pirate hit Oakland-Alameda Estuary

This image shows items stolen by pirates in the Oakland-Alameda Estuary. (Dan Hill)

Several residents in the area shared personal anecdotes about the dire situation in several municipal meetings last year, including the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission’s (BCDC) enforcement meeting.

“The open shoreline of the (Oakland-Alameda) estuary is littered with sunken wrecks and derelict, end-of-life vessels, and crime has risen to truly intolerable levels,” former harbormaster Brock de Lappe said during an October BCDC meeting. 

“Multiple vessels have been stolen and ransacked. Victims have had to resort to personally confronting the criminals to recover their property without the benefit of police support. Is this an appropriate activity for a 79-year-old senior?”

‘PIRATES’ IN SAN FRANCISCO BAY SINKING SAILING SCHOOL FOR KIDS: OWNER

Stolen boat from the Oakland-Alameda Estuary

A sailing school in Alameda is on the cusp of closing after half of its safety boats were stolen by pirates, the owner said. (Dan Hill)

One woman said she rescued a man whose sailboat drifted into the bay without a motor or any way to get back to shore after one of the “pirates” cut his boat line during an argument.

Other residents told Fox News Digital they chased would-be thieves across the bay, and they shared videos of the chase and surveillance footage. 

WATCH: YACHT OWNER CHASES ‘PIRATES’

Dan Hill, who was one of the leaders in the area to bring the issue to the forefront, was one of dozens or more pounding the tables at municipal meetings, writing letters and calling officials to address the problem. 

Each “attack” and theft can cost the owner thousands to tens of thousands of dollars, Hill told Fox News Digital in a previous interview.

ALLEGED SEAFARING BANDITS NABBED ON SAN FRANCISCO BAY AFTER SERIES OF BOAT RAIDS

Over the weekend, he said the situation appeared to have been “cleaned up pretty good” and praised the arrests. 

For months, jurisdiction question marks and eroding law enforcement staffing levels complicated the issue, but the Oakland and Alameda police departments worked together and teamed up with the Coast Guard, which has a base in the estuary.

Pirates using boats like this to board large ships and yachts in the East Bay

Pirates have been stealing boats or using old, abandoned dinghies (small recreational boats) to board large ships and yachts in the Oakland-Alameda Estuary, Dan Hill said. (Dan Hill)

Homeless camps are like pirates who tear apart boats

Powerboats were allegedly stolen by “pirates” after they were docked in the Oakland Harbor area. (Dan Hill)

Alameda Police Chief Nishant Joshi called it a “regional approach” to protect the waterway during an October 2023 interview with Fox News Digital. 

“In the waterways, it’s very difficult to draw a line,” Joshi said at the time. “There are no roadways or fence lines, so we all have a shared interest, much like crime as a whole, to deal with this as a regional approach.”

Joshi’s comments were echoed by the Coast Guard spokesperson, who said, “It’s a federal and state problem, and we’re all working to protect the best interests of everyone in the estuary.”

Watch Joshi’s full interview

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As for this particular case involving the suspected business burglars, Oakland police said the case and ongoing thefts in and around the Oakland estuary are still under investigation.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Oakland Police Department’s burglary unit at 510-238-3951.



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