A boat thief was caught red-handed because of his poor boating skills. He got himself trapped and deputies had to save him.
At sunrise Thursday morning, Tim Hermus was getting ready for a fishing trip but he was missing a very important item – his boat.
“I walked out of my bedroom with ice to put in the cooler and it was gone,” Hermus recalled.
His boat was missing, and across the canal near his Englewood home, his neighbors’ boats had been tampered with too.
“The suspect went from boat to boat until he found one and went off with it,” said Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Katie Heck.
Hermus asked his boating friends to keep a lookout as he called 911. Soon after, someone came back.
“He showed me a picture, he says ‘Is this your boat? The guy’s on the sandbar right up next to Stump Pass Marina,’” Hermus recalled.
Despite having a GPS on board, the criminal ran aground on a sandbar. By the time he was spotted, he had been swimming for a few hours.
“It didn’t work out well for him, I don’t really know his plan,” said Hermus.
He was soon identified as Adam Donohew from North Port. Good Samaritans kept an eye on him until deputies arrested him.
“They did the exact, correct thing that we always ask people to do – be observant, let us know of things going on, but don’t get yourself in harm’s way,” said Heck.
When deputies recovered the boat, it was littered with sand but otherwise had minimal damage.
“It’s basically still in one piece and that’s a good thing,” said Hermus.
“I’m thankful that it was low tide,” he added.
In recent weeks, there has been a spike in boat thefts. Charlotte County deputies do not believe Donohew was part of an organized boat theft ring.
Officials say most of these thieves are more skilled than Donohew, so it’s important for boat owners to be careful.