Detectives arrest one for yellowtail theft; more arrests pending

Detectives have made one arrest in connection with the theft of 400 pounds of yellowtail stolen from a fishing boat on Stock Island. More arrests are pending.

The victim says he came in to the marina on May 30 with a full load of about 4,000 pounds of fish. He said the docks were very busy and he could not unload the fish that day, so he went home to see his family. He said he thought his fish would be safe because he knew someone was sleeping on a boat docked next to his. When he returned early the next morning, he found about 400 pounds of his fish missing and he called the Sheriff’s Office.

Investigations revealed two possible suspects – a 14 year old boy and a 15 year old boy, both of whom live at Stock Island Apartments. In an interview, the 14 year old told Detective Dave Chavka he and his friend used five gallon buckets to steal the fish. They made seven trips on their bicycles to the boat, docked at Sea Lobster marina. They loaded their buckets with fish and took the fish to a nearby trailer park where they sold the fish to park residents for cash – they sold each bucket for $20 and made a total of $360 which they split between them. The stolen fish was valued at $1,200.

The 14 year old was charged with burglary, grand theft and dealing in stolen property. More arrests are pending.

Detective Chavka says during the course of his investigation of this crime he has received information this type of criminal activity may be an ongoing issue. He received a second report of 50 pounds of fish stolen the following night. He identified a possible suspect in that crime as a 12 year old boy from Stock Island and is continuing that investigation as well. He has also received numerous reports from others around the marina area that they’ve had fish stolen in the past; witnesses have told him they’ve seen young boys around the docks carrying buckets of fish. Detective Chavka says he is looking for anyone who has information about this activity to call him. He is also looking for information from people who may have purchased fish on the streets from possible theft suspects.

Anyone with such information should contact the Lower Keys Criminal Investigative Unit at 305-292-7060. Callers may also contact Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. Tipsters who call Crime Stoppers with information will be eligible for a cash reward if their tip leads to an arrest. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS. Tips may also be submitted on line at

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