By Karen Cornelius
The pleasure boating season in Vermilion is in full swing, but there’s a note of caution in the air for boat owners. The Vermilion Police Department wishes to advise all boaters about a rash of incidents happening around June 21-24. Several dock boxes and boats were broken into at the Vermilion Yacht Club and the Vermilion Boat Club with missing items ranging from 12-packs of pop to a $2,000 motor. Boaters should remove the valuables they can when leaving their vessels and tightly lock up what they can.
The police continue to ask the public to “say something when they see something” and call the department immediately. One individual recently did just that at the Vermilion Yacht Club on Anchorway around midnight on Wednesday, June 21. According to the police department report, Gary Johnson, the yacht club manager, observed a male and a female on the swim platform of a boat that did not belong to them. Also, the individuals had several boat items in their vehicle parked in front of one of the docks. Johnson called the police and told the two suspects to stay in their vehicle. The manager observed an outboard motor, a gas tank, and several other items inside that car. The male suspect started to unload the items and take them back over to a dock box.
Officers were dispatched for this report of a theft in progress. They identified the suspects as Levi Toth, 25, of Lorain and Samantha Darby, 25, of Wakeman. Both told the officers they were in the area to meet with friends and go rafting. The items in the car including boat oars, two personal flotaton devices, a jump box, and rope were claimed by the suspects for rafting. Officer David Wood called the boat owner who would come to Vermilion and identify what was his property. The suspects were arrested and taken to the station for further investigation.
After questioning, according to the police report, Darby alleged that she had driven Toth there without knowing his intentions of stealing items. She related they had been at the yacht club earlier in the day when the items in the car were taken. They ate at a restaurant and then returned to the club again with her not knowing the extent of Toth’s plan when she alleged he broke a lock off a dock box and took other items. She said she asked him not to do it. When asked about the lock, Darby said she had placed it in her bra because she was afraid someone would see it. She gave the lock to one of the officers at the scene. When the boat owner came to the police station he identified the lock and had the key which fit it. Later, the boat owner came to the station and reported his Achilles 8-foot Hypalon was also taken from his dock. It was entered as stolen.
Darby was charged with criminal trespassing and given a court date and released on a personal recognizance. Toth was charged with criminal trespassing and possessing criminal tools with a bond of $15,000 and transported to Erie County Jail. He was given a court date plus possible pending charges for theft upon further investigation.
On June 24, there was another police report from a boat owner docking at the Vermilion Boat Club on Liberty Avenue. He said there had been a break-in. He noticed his cover was unzipped and he found things moved inside. Missing were 12-packs of pop, shaving items, a flashlight, and a Marinette brass seahorse. At this time there are no suspects known. However, police did find two bicycles nearby which were confiscated. They do believe these suspects are different than the ones who were at the Vermilion Yacht Club.
Also on June 24, another boat owner at the yacht club discovered he was missing items as well. His dock box was broken into and an engine was stolen from his boat. The lock was cut off his dock box. Missing were the paddles for his dingy valued at $150. He said the outboard motor for his dingy was attached to his sailboat with bolts and a lock which was cut. Missing is a black, 2013 6-horsepower Mercury outboard motor with Everglades National Park stickers on it valued at $2,000. Investigators are determining if this offense is connected to another theft occurring on June 21. Two life vests, rope and oars were given back to this boat owner. Those items were in the possession of the two suspects who were arrested.