Here is a start-to-finish recap of what transpired.
My company, Lumitec, designs and manufactures lighting for extreme environments, including recreational marine. We’d brought our 2015 Intrepid 375 to our R&D/manufacturing facility to get it ready for a trade show, IBEX, next week in Tampa.
I got up around 4 on Saturday morning, planning to meet some of our engineers at our prototype lab early to get a jump on some show prep. I immediately noticed the text alert(s) from the GOST system that the geofence had been breached (ie the boat had been moved). I immediately logged in to the GOST tracking interface, only to see the sickening breadcrumb trail of the thieves heading South.
Still a little bleary-eyed, I called the local police. Waiting for them, I logged into the GOST WATCH portal. This is where the videos of the perps came from, which so many of you have asked about – the system really is incredible. You can get more information here. If anyone can post videos I’ll share some of those as well, but for now here are a few screen captures of the (edited) doing their thing on board.
Within a few hours I’d chartered a helicopter out of Homestead Executive. The pilot was extremely knowledgeable, both as a pilot and a longtime resident familiar with the area. He did an amazing job over the course of about 4 hours scouring every likely inch of the upper keys and the Florida City area. We even had to dodge the biggest waterspout I’d ever seen:
While I was in the air, two of our top guys back at the officewent to work. One of whom is our lead designer. This boat is kind of personal to him, because he was directly involved in most of the things that make this boat so slick and different (for example, he actually designed most of the custom folding second-station tower which retracts at the push of a button). He also gets pretty much unlimited use of the boat so I think that was a motivator for him as well . The other guy who jumped in was our Strategic Systems Manger – he designs, builds, and manages our core IT tools, including security (he’s one of those nerdy-brainiac guys who is always coming to me with those ideas that seem hairbrained at first, but later turn out to be brilliant). He enlists the help of an outside expert, Palmsol Consulting to keep all this cool stuff humming along smoothly at our facility (note, all of these people play a role later, so sit tight!)
These guys jump in with both feet on Saturday morning about the time the sun is coming up. They started pouring over the security videos from all the cameras at our R&D facility. Let’s just say there was a lot of very ‘useful’ footage spanning multiple days. Jackpot. Our Lead Designer somehow pieced together that there was an ADDITIONAL stolen vehicle captured in our camera footage, along with an expensive car carrier which was ALSO stolen. He reaches out to our local PD and just like that, a stolen trailer recovered:
Score ONE for the good guys!
But of course it gets better. At the same time, our Systems Manager spins up the wonder of Social media, and things just explode. This is where ALL OF YOU really stepped up. THANK YOU ALL VERY MUCH!!! With a hurried post, a few quick screen shots, and some cryptic details you guys went to work.
I will tell you I was shocked at how quickly this spread. I had personally told only a few people, but got dozens of emails and texts from throughout the state and beyond and even the BAHAMAS from people who jumped into action. Several guys from Intrepid Powerboats reached out to see if they could do anything, and in fact thought to put out a BOLO for anyone inquiring about complex electrical systems on Intrepids (more on that later…). We’d helped the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s office on a really cool counter-terrorist vessel last year, and before lunchtime on Saturday I was copied on a BOLO email our colleague there had sent hours earlier to his guys in blue in the field. Detective Elmore from the Monroe County Sherriff’s office was similarly proactive and efficient, sending officers to ‘likely’ ramps and issuing a BOLO. I even got a call from a USCG Key West as they set their processes in motion. They confirmed the likelihood of a Cuba run.
Then I got a call from reporter Alex Hagen at WPTV. He and his crew were just awesome. By 8:30 Saturday evening we’d filmed something that he was able to get on the evening news, further spreading the word:
By the end of day Saturday we’d cast a large net.
Early Sunday morning our Lead Designer was back at work on facebook, THT, message boards, etc. He was seeing hints of the first leads. Then BANG. We heard what we’d been hoping for:
The message I got initially was confusing to say the least – a cell phone camera photo of a screen shot of a post on a board I’d never heard of. After a suspenseful few minutes our Designer somehow found a phone number. I called – no answer. I called – no answer.
One more try – BINGO!
This guy Jeff Moore FOUND the BOAT! It apparently had been stashed behind a Motel 6 near MIA. He gave me the rough location, I punched an address into my car nav. 1 hr 12 min away. I was there in about 45 minutes. I pulled up and couldn’t believe it – there she was.
It turns out Jeff was in the area and just caught a glimpse of the boat by chance as he was turning around. “Strange place for a nice, new big boat,” he thought, being an experienced boater and boat owner himself. He was 8 or 10 miles away when he stopped for a bite and started flipping through some message boards. He stopped at The Man Cave and saw that someone’s boat had been stolen. “Naw – it couldn’t be…” But it nagged him. He got up and backtracked to where he’d seen the big boat wedged between some busses. It was still there. He checked the name and told me “…I just got chills – I couldn’t believe I found it…” It is entirely possible that they had been planning a Cuba run but realized they couldn’t use the boat because of Yamaha’s YCOP system (this is another REALLY cool technology that you guys need to look into!)
Boat and Trailer found, Good Guys: 3!
As if a 36 hour stolen vessel recovery was implausible enough, here is where it really gets unbelievable. Early Sunday morning a guy posts to the original thread on The Hull Truth – “I think the truck and trailer shown in the video you posted belongs to my friend – Call me”. So it turns out the White Ford F-350 dually and the car carrier trailer that we captured on our factory video surveillance was stolen, and the owner of THAT truck somehow saw our footage online. We contact that owner and he gets a little satisfaction from learning that our Designer had located his trailer the previous day, but his truck is still missing. He keeps looking for his truck, but changes his focus further South.
Now I’m working through the paperwork with Miami PD on the release of the boat to me and realize I’ve got a problem. While the boat and trailer are here the truck is not. The president of Palmsol Consulting calls – “Is there anything at all I can do?” Hmmm…He’s an avid boater too, and just happens to have a new Dodge 3500. “well, um, actually…” And with that he’s headed South to help me get the boat home. I give him the address and 60 minutes later he calls me. He’s made a wrong turn. He’s in a lot on the other side of the Motel 6 with 10 or 15 semi’s and…
Yup – A white Ford Dually…with gear from our boat in the bed. Miami PD hears this and is off like a shot. With this I call the owner of that truck, who I only know because of the connection on The Hull Truth. In 20 minutes, after it being gone for 5 days, he’s looking at his truck. I learn that he’s a young hardworking guy. He’s built his business over many years, reinvested, worked hard, taken risks and persevered. This truck was a key part of his business and his livelihood. It’s been a little abused but he’s more than relieved to finally have it back.
Good Guys: 4!
So now things are really in the “boy, what are the chances…” realm. But it doesn’t stop there. (though I’ll further restrict the details here for obvious reasons). A friend of a friend gets a text of a text of a repost of a post on a board somewhere. “I know who stole the boat”
We get photographs, MUG SHOTS and a NAMES. All from people we’ve never met. But wait, there’s more.
As we’re standing in the otherwise nearly empty lot additional evidence just falls into our laps. We connect with someone (in person) who positively ID’s the guy who parked the boat at the Motel. We find connections between the truck, the perps, where they live, etc. All passed on to the police. It was like an episode of Scooby Doo where all the details just fall into place at once, and we can faintly hear “…and we’d have gotten away with it if those meddling internet people hadn’t gotten in the way…” At the time I left Miami no arrest had been made to my knowledge but things seem solidly in motion on that front.
As I’m driving someone else’s $50k truck home, lent to me without a moment’s hesitation, with our miraculously recovered boat I get a call from my new friend, the owner of the Dually. He’s just calling to make sure that everything is okay and I’m getting home safely. I think of what I told the reporter less than 24 hours ago – Karma is a strange thing. I’ve tried to treat people well, help out when I can, and be a good person. To a man the same can be said of my team at Lumitec. The owner of the Dually seems cut from the same cloth as well. Our friends and colleagues jumped in when we needed help, and a guy who didn’t know me from Adam found our boat and stood watch over it for three hours until I was contacted and arrived. Countless people on The Hull Truth, The Man Cave, Facebook, and other sites pitched in to help. Yes. Karma is a strange thing, and it gives me comfort to know that it will sooner or later settle up with all parties involved in this long weekend.
Importantly, thanks again to all of you. You made a difference.