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Thief Ahoy!

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14:35 CEST+02:00
Ever on the look out for crime stories, Friday's GP revealed the extent of maritime thefts hitting harbours from Oslo to Skåne. So far this year, 500 leisure craft have been stolen.

However, the authorities are on the case with a new partnership between the Swedish coast guard and Norwegian police already paying dividends. Last week three thieves were caught red-handed by Swedish authorities in two stolen boats. All the thieves were Norwegian.

Geir Larsen, the Norwegian policeman behind the project, explained: "Now we can send information, including pictures, direct to coast guard boats two minutes after we've received the tip off."

Despite cutbacks on both sides of the border, boat thefts are so far down on last year. Whilst the various agencies involved are pleased with how the project is going, they realise the positive results may also be down to the awful weather.

The most stolen boats are quite modest models such as Uttern and Ryds and are usually the work of local trouble-makers. But last week's success included a Sea Ray from Strömstad worth 1.5 million crowns - definitely a professional job to order, according to the maritime police.

The situation is worse on the east coast, according to Göran Myrman of the maritime police, where highly organised gangs work. Thieves are often just after the motor, in which case, very few craft can protect themselves against modern cutting equipment. "At an estimate, 30% of stolen boats are recovered, but usually not in sea-worthy condition and minus the motor."

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