COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - For the second time in a two day period, thieves in the Midlands have made off with hundreds of thousands of dollars in powerful boat motors.
The latest theft happened overnight between Sunday and Monday at Mid-Carolina Marine on Sunset Boulevard in West Columbia.
Manager Frank Riley says someone cut the lock off the front gate and hot wired a forklift used to block access to the boatyard.
He believes the forklift was then used to lift Yamaha outboard motors ranging up to 300 horsepower after they'd been unbolted from the sterns of several boats.
Several more motors were removed from their shipping boxes, puzzling Riley, who says that process alone could take nearly a half hour in each case because the motors are attached to metal frames inside the containers.
The West Columbia theft follows a similar incident at Captains Choice Marine in Leesville about a day earlier. Again, thieves targeted only Yamaha motors, stealing more than a dozen, also with an estimated value of $250,000.
There were no surveillance cameras at the West Columbia store, but authorities say a camera at the Leesville location captured an image of a large white van leaving the scene.
Riley says it might have taken at least three hours for the motor theft at his store. He says the thieves apparently had all the tools they needed and knowledge of how to remove the motors.
"They look like they were great at what they did," Riley said. "I mean this is probably not the first time they've done it. It's kind of a surgical, you know where they took the motor off the boats and left the harnesses and stuff intact."
An employee arriving at the store Monday morning discovered someone had put a new lock on the entrance gate. The old lock was found in a trash can.
If you have any information about this incident, you are urged to contact Crimestoppers in any of the following ways: Call 1-888-CRIME SC (888-274-6372), Text TIPSC plus your tip info to CRIMES (274637), visit www.midlandscrimestoppers.com and email a tip. Your identity will be kept anonymous, and if your tip leads to an arrest, you could be eligible for a cash reward of up to $1,000.