Dec 15, 2014
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A police bust in Richmond that could very well inspire a scene in the Pirates of the Caribbean films took place over the weekend following a hot-prowl burglary on a research vessel anchored near Point San Pablo Yacht Harbor.

Suspected seafaring robbers were arrested, a stolen boat and several stolen vehicles were recovered, and an encampment and chop shop at Castro Point that is accessible by land and sea was dismantled following a police investigation stemming from the Friday morning boat burglary, police spokesperson Sgt. Nicole Abetkov said.

“Who will get the movie rights?” Mayor-elect Tom Butt said in an email that tipped us off to the story.

The incident unfolded at about 3 a.m. Friday, when police received a call about the theft on an anchored vessel. The research vessel’s owner was awakened by two intruders, a man and woman, and managed to scare them off, Abetkov said. The suspects, however, made their getaway on another boat and in the process stole a shore power cable.

Location of where the initial boat burglary occurred.

Location of where the initial boat burglary occurred.

The victim gave a description of the suspects and their boat. Sgt. Felix Tan, who heads RPD’s Marine Unit, knew about a similarly described boat that frequented a known problem spot at Castro Point near the San Rafael-Richmond Bridge. The spot also harbored an encampment.

Following a coordinated land-and-water response, the suspect boat was located in that area along with a “major chop shop” operation, police said.

“Once on scene, eight people were detained by officers, and after a lengthy investigation two stolen vehicles and one stolen boat were located in the area,” Abetkov said.

Among those detained were the two suspects believe to be linked to the Friday morning boat burglary. Daniel Brenton, 32, was arrested and booked for the initial boat theft, while Megan Strawl, 24, was arrested and booked for a mandatory court appearance warrant, Abetkov said.

Two more people were arrested but haven’t been identified due to an ongoing investigation.

Further follow-up investigation of the encampment on Saturday at noon uncovered two stolen boat trailers, a stolen jet ski and three stolen vehicles.

Introducing Liberty, the Richmond Police Department's newest and largest boat

The Richmond Police Department Marine Unit’s newest of three boats. The Marine Unit helped in the raid of an encampment and major chop shop by sea.

In an email to police Chief Chris Magnus, Butt requested code enforcement clean up the problem site. Eric Johnson, owner and operator of Point San Pablo Yacht Harbor, and others have complained about the “people that hang out at Red Rock Marina,” Butt said.

“They may be responsible for some of the recent property crimes in Point Richmond,” Butt said, adding, “There are multiple code violations at Red Rock.”

Along with the police department’s code enforcement unit, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and U.S. Coast Guard have been called to assist in the site’s restoration, Abetkov said.

Butt said the major bust was truly an “Only in Richmond” story.

“It has pirates, a nighttime police raid by both land and sea on an abandoned Marina that once was the west coast receiving point for the largest marijuana smuggling operation in US history,” he said.


About the Author

Mike Aldax is the editor of the Richmond Standard. He has 13 years of journalism experience, most recently as a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner. He previously held roles as reporter and editor at Bay City News, Napa Valley Register, Garden Island Newspaper in Kaua’i, and the Queens Courier in New York City.