Crime & Courts

Thieves hit Irmo boat dealer with slick operation, owner says

Thieves broke into a Richland County boat dealer late Saturday and made off with equipment worth up to $200,000.

The owners, Lauren and David Evans, beefed up security at Carolina Inboard after break-ins at other dealers around Lake Murray in March.

But the latest theft at the Irmo dealer last weekend circumvented it all and made off with seven motors and electronic technology from three watercraft, Lauren Evans said.

“They cut all of our security cameras,” she said. “They hung a jacket over our flood lights. We have a truck that we normally park in front of the gate so no one can get in – they cut the clutch on it and rolled it back so they could get their equipment in.”

The thieves blocked a motion-sensing camera pointed at the front door of the dealership. Two of the most expensive boats were out front. The owners found them hauled around back and said that motion wasn’t caught on camera.

“(The theft was) meticulous for sure,” Irmo Police Sgt. Courtney Dennis said. “The types of motors they took are high-end, very expensive. The removal of them was complex.”

Irmo police are exchanging information with other agencies to see if this incident is connected with the thefts in March, Dennis said. Richland County deputies and State Law Enforcement Division agents are assisting.

Though the Evaneses hope insurance will cover their loss, Lauren Evans said it might take a while before they get the money. Meanwhile, the couple still has to pay for the boats until they’re sold – and they can’t be sold until they’re repaired.

This financial strain comes at a difficult time for the couple. Her husband is battling cancer, Lauren Evans said, and his next chemotherapy treatment is in a week.

“As if fighting cancer wasn’t enough, now we have to fight for our livelihood,” she said.

But the shop is still open for business, Lauren Evans said. They have boats for sale that weren’t damaged and the couple also sells aquatic sporting equipment and offers boat repairs.

One dealer hit in March was Captain’s Choice Marine north of Batesburg-Leesville. The thieves in that incident stole about $250,000 worth of boat motors, according to the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department.

Glen Luke Flanagan: 803-771-8305, @glenlflanagan