A man suspected of making a water-borne getaway with a water-proof lock box from a Coral Bay restaurant in a late night burglary didn’t make it far in the light of day.
The security alarm at Island Blues sounded around 3:45 a.m. on Tuesday morning, June 26, awakening at least one live-aboard boater moored nearby in the harbor.
The witness said he clearly saw a male with the box in his hands climb into a kayak which had been pulled on shore in front of the popular harbor side restaurant.
The suspect paddled to the sailing vessel Tally Ho! which had recently arrived in the harbor for the Eighth Annual Commodore’s Cup boat races two days earlier.
After several phone calls to the unstaffed V.I. Police Department Coral Bay substation went unanswered, the witness said he called the VIPD’s Leander Jurgen Command in Cruz Bay, but still got nowhere.
While a call was answered around 5 a.m., the desk officer told the caller there were not enough officers on duty at the time to send one all the way out to Coral Bay.
The caller was assured an officer would be sent by 8 a.m.
When a VIPD officer finally did arrive around 10 a.m., he was unable to collect forensic evidence and declined to ride out to the boat in question — to which the suspicious kayak remained tied.
As the Coral Bay boating community watched Tally Ho!, the suspect male rowed a woman later identified as the boat’s owner to the dock in a dinghy around 2:45 p.m.
The two, who toted a small dog and a dog carrier, then were seen walking to the Centerline Road intersection.
After local boaters further discussed the issue over happy hour libations, a plan arose. The suspect male was spotted walking back to the dinghy dock around 6 p.m. and was intercepted by a vigilante group which had quickly formed.
A group of about 20 boaters met the male on the Coral Bay dock and would not let him go anywhere until authorities arrived.
It was a hot afternoon, and eventually thirst got to the mostly male group of vigilante sailors.
Soon a tray of drinks were procured from a nearby watering hole and cocktails were passed around the dock.
VIPD Comm. Called on Cell Phone
After VIPD Commissioner James McCall was contacted via cellular phone, VIPD officers did appear on the dock and one even toted a shotgun.
Two officers were taken out to Tally Ho! with the suspect male who then claimed he didn’t have keys to unlock the vessel. The officers peered into a few open hatches and couldn’t make out much.
VIPD officers, however, did find crack cocaine on the suspected burglar, who was hauled off to the Bureau of Corrections in St. Thomas charged with possession of a controlled substance.
Although scuba divers later discovered Island Blues paperwork on the sea floor below Tally Ho!, the lock box was never recovered. The man, whose name was not released, was not charged with burglary.
The whereabouts of the woman who owns Tally Ho! remained unknown.