Boat theft ring busted after 8-year investigation

Eight years later, accused robbers are behind bars after allegedly stealing a Punta Gorda man’s boat.

Video surveillance shows the moment Geovani Ramirez, who stole the boat, escaped from the U.S. Coast Guard.

New police reports say the owner of the boat was a seasonal resident in Punta Gorda and wasn’t home at the time of the theft.

But a burglar alarm notified the captain that his $600,000 boat was moving out on the water.

“I woke up one morning saw I had an alert 10 o’clock in the morning, I called my client who owned the vessel and said ‘are you heading out on the water already?’ And he said ‘no I’m still in Canada’ so I called the police,” Captain Helt said.

Police say the boat was stolen from the owner’s dock one early morning in 2010, around 2 a.m.

Captain Christopher Helt says using the boat’s GPS system installed in the boat, he was able to track it to the Charlotte Harbor.

The U.S. Coast Guard began to chase him.

Police say they found Ramirez and his co-pilot Nelson Hernandez headed west out of U.S. waters before heading south.

“People will steal things for any reason and this just probably happened to be a bigger profit margin for just a little bit more.. and I’m sure it paid off for him but in the long run.. it didn’t pay off,” Helt said.

Police say Cuban authorities confirmed it was Ramirez behind the wheel of the boat.

Now, eight years later, Helt says he’s happy that Ramirez is finally paying for what he did.

“I’m very happy that authorities are following up on this,” he said. “I think justice is finally served.”

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