Hampshire Police Marine Unit with the recovered speedboat., Picture courtesy of Hampshire Police Marine Unit, via Twitter.
A SHOCKED boat owner looked on from a shoreside bar on the Isle of Wight yesterday afternoon (Sunday) as an audacious thief swam out to the vessel and stole it.
The owner was enjoying a drink at the Driftwood Beach Bar in Sandown Bay, when he saw the thief board the boat, start the engine and head towards Whitecliff Bay.
At 6.10pm, a joint operation was launched between the police, both Bembridge lifeboats, the Sandown and Shanklin Inshore Lifeboat and coastguard search teams.
The boat was discovered by the police boat "Commander" in the Blackrock area of Bembridge, with no one on board and a lifejacket in the sea. A man was arrested on land shortly afterwards.
Bembridge RNLI coxswain Steve Simmonds said: "It was a bit of a strange end to the day, fortunately there are not that many boats stolen on the Island, certainly not in broad day light whilst the owner is watching."
An officer from Hampshire Police Marine Unit said they had been able to alert harbourmasters, boat owners and businesses through the Project Kraken network and social media.
"We had a lot of calls from the public after reporting the theft on Twitter," said the officer.
*A 31-year-old man from Sandown was still in custody this morning (Monday), according to police.
Follow Hampshire Police Marine Unit on Twitter via @HantsPolMarine