A Bayou View resident was trolling the Baton Rouge Craigslist when he saw what appeared to be the boat motor stolen during the day Friday from the skiff in his driveway.
He called a friend who contacted a supervisor at the Department of Marine Resources. Officer Chris Collins and Supervisor Chris Mask set up a sting Sunday.
The resident arranged to meet the “seller” Sunday morning in the parking lot of a Dollar General on Firetower Road. Two men showed up to negotiate the sale. As soon as the resident saw the motor, he gave the officers a prearranged signal, indicating it was his.
The two men were a little stunned by the sudden appearance of a DMR truck, Chief Keith Davis said.
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“When they saw our truck, they thought about fleeing, but they didn't,” he said. “We were able to get them without any incident.”
The owner of the 20 horsepower Tohatsu engine valued it at $2,200. The seller wanted $1,900 for the engine.
DMR spokeswoman Melissa Scallan said thieves often advertise merchandise on Craigslist sites for other communities to reduce the chances of being caught.
DMR arrested Ruben Lee Allen, 53, and Kaderial L. Montgomery, 26, both of Gulfport, on felony charges of receiving stolen property. The men were released in a little under two hours on bonds of $25,000 each, Harrison County’s jail docket shows. If convicted, the men could each be sentenced to a maximum 10 years in prison.
Kyle Johnson said he was grateful to DMR for working with him to recover the motor. He said he took to social media to let his friends, neighbors and fellow fishermen know it had been stolen, offering a $500 reward for information leading to the motor’s recovery. He said he posted the notice on his own Facebook wall, plus the walls of fishing groups and Bayou View’s neighborhood group.
A friend who saw Johnson’s post alerted him to the Craigslist notice about the engine for sale. In another Facebook post, Johnson wrote, “I grew up in a Bayou View ... and never once even locked my truck. We never had anything stolen out of our vehicles or yard, but those days are apparently long gone.
“If you have a boat or anything on your property I would make sure it’s locked and valuable things are put away. It’s scary to think this person has been watching us and learning our routine.”
He told the Sun Herald, “This is the first time something that valuable has been stolen from me, but I'm a hardcore fisherman and I wasn't about to let them get away with it.”