GUELPH — A Guelph couple is crediting social media with the safe return of their high-performance boat after it was spotted thousands of kilometres away by a stranger in Florida.
Owners Nathan and Cari Reid said a strange turn of events has led to the safe return of the $500,000 boat, which was reported stolen from Double R Performance near Orillia.
The 39-foot 2015 Nor-Tech 390 Sport boat was having some work done at Double R when it was taken in the early morning hours on Nov. 26.
“They cut the locks to the gate, backed up to it and they were gone,” said Nathan.
At first the couple didn’t panic because they had insurance on it, but a technicality meant they would not be paid back for the stolen boat.
“We had insurance on it, but in fine print we didn’t have a GPS tracker, so a $500,000 boat was not covered — we didn’t know that,” said Cari.
Nathan said they have owned the boat for four years and didn’t notice that line in the policy.
“It’s a half a million dollar boat, I should have been on the ball,” he said.
The theft of the boat and trailer was featured by Crime Stoppers, but the couple also attempted to find it themselves.
The Reids hired a private investigator and put out a Facebook ad promising a reward if found.
Thinking it was still in the area, Nathan hired a helicopter to find the distinctive boat with four Mercury 400R white outboard motors.
“We jumped into a helicopter and flew around the Barrie area so we feel like we have done everything we can,” said Nathan. “I did a Facebook ad, thinking it was still around the area, with a $25,000 reward.”
The ad was shared by people in the go-fast boating world. It was seen at least as far away as Fort Lauderdale, Florida, because that is where the Reids say a man was shown a photograph of a boat that was possibly theirs.
“They got ahold of me and I said for sure that it’s my boat,” said Nathan.
Somehow the boat and trailer made it from Orillia to Florida in the matter of a few weeks.
“How do you steal a boat like that from Orillia at 4:30 in the morning and no one sees it going down the road? And he got it across the border with no problems?” wondered Cari.
Through a series of events, the boat was recovered and the reward paid. So far no charges have been laid.
“Social media has been the big thing here,” said Nathan. “Without Facebook I would be out a half a million dollars, which is crazy.”
The boat now has a GPS tracker installed.
“I got the insurance to come and look at it. There were a few things stolen out of it — like fishing rods and stuff — but main thing is I got my boat back,” said Nathan.
One small positive to come from this ordeal is that the boat was going to be taken down to Florida for the winter after the service was complete at Double R.
“They hauled it down for me,” Nathan said.