A boat that was stolen from the Moovalya Keys neighborhood of the Parker Strip has been recovered after a 36-mile high-speed chase in Desert Hot Springs. The 28-foot orange and purple Aftershock Violator was spotted being towed on I-10 after a driver saw a widely-shared Facebook post alerting users to the theft.
“Just saw it in Desert Hot Springs,” a Facebooker wrote. “Riverside [County Sheriff] have the driver on the ground guns pulled.”
“Just saw it in DHS too!” replied another.
Parker Live spoke to Katie LaCoste, whose parents own the boat. She said that her parents are retired and rent the ground floor of a house in the Keys, where they spend their time when they’re not in San Diego with the family. The boat was stolen sometime around July 17th from the driveway of the house.
“There were multiple people involved in this theft,” she said. “It was stolen with a Ford truck, but two other vehicles were involved when they made the arrests.”
After it was stolen, Katie put a photo of the boat on Facebook with a caption – “Stolen boat” – and encouraged people to share it around. It was shared hundreds of times, and after two days there was a hit. A driver in the Coachella Valley who had seen the post spotted the boat being towed and called Katie from the highway.
“We talked about details written on the back of the boat and he sped through traffic to catch up to them and continued to follow them,” she said.
The suspects apparently realized they were being followed, according to Katie, because they began to speed away and allegedly hit speeds of up to 100 mph. The driver told Katie that at least two other vehicles traveling with the boat tried to block the follower and obscure the license plate.
“They were trying to run them off the road,” she said. “Finally the cops came, they weren’t going to come at first. They ended up calling La Paz County and they coordinated. Five cop cars and a helicopter showed up, guns were drawn, and they made multiple arrests. They were almost at the chop shop when they got pulled over.”
Riverside County Sheriff’s Department reportedly arrested the occupants of the vehicle towing the boat, so multiple jurisdictions are involved and the case would ultimately be handled in Parker.
According to Katie, although they got the boat back in an essentially happy ending, the boat’s drive is damaged and there’s something wrong with the engine. It may have been run without water or there may have been some other means of unintentional damage inflicted on it. Batteries, lifejackets and other items from inside the boat are missing too.
“My parents are retired and on a fixed income now. They couldn’t afford the insurance recently, so it was really important to get the boat back. They’ll need to sell it,” she said.
La Paz County Sheriff’s Office confirmed the theft with Parker Live and said that it is an open case. Although reports suggest that the perpetrators have close ties to the Parker area, there’s no confirmation of that from the Sheriff’s Office.
Katie thanked the Parker community for its help, saying, “I literally can’t thank each and every one of you who shared this enough. I spent hours posting this in groups to get the word out, and social media literally got this boat found! We seriously are insanely thankful and owe each and every one of you.”