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B.C. pair arrested after drifting over US border on a stolen sailboat

One arrested on outstanding warrants, second let go, arrested later after discovery boat was stolen
Two men were arrested on separate days in May on this sailboat, which was reported stolen from Cadboro Bay. One man was arrested on outstanding warrants, and the other is in court this month to face charges of possession of stolen property. (Courtesy BC RCMP)

A man who police twice found on a sailboat that was ultimately determined to have been stolen from Cadboro Bay faces multiple charges this month in Victoria court.

Thomas Richard Cudworth is charged with possession of stolen property over $5,000 and under $5,000, as well as breach of undertaking. He is next scheduled to appear in B.C. Provincial Court on June 15.

The charges follow encounters with Shiprider patrol vessels crewed by members of the RCMP and U.S. Coast Guard in the coastal waters around the Canada-U.S. marine border.

The initial contact with the sailboat came May 4 when the Shiprider crew in a U.S. Coast Guard vessel encountered two men attempting to row the 26-foot white-and-blue sailboat, west of Stuart Island. The occupants told officers they had run out of fuel and during the conversation, both boats drifted into U.S. waters and the shipping lane. Advised that they were now creating a hazard for ships, the men were offered a tow to a U.S. harbour but chose to try sailing back into Canadian waters.

While neither man was the registered owner of the sailboat, police were unaware who the true owner was. Police later determined one of the men was wanted on unrelated outstanding warrants, while the other had conditions that he not be on any vessel he doesn’t own or possess documentation for. Once the boat had returned to Canadian waters, the Shiprider crew boarded the vessel and arrested the first man and transported him to Sidney, where he was taken into custody by Sidney/North Saanich RCMP officers and processed.

The second man was allowed to carry on in the sailboat while police attempted to locate its owner. Eventually they did and learned the vessel had been reported stolen from its mooring in Cadboro Bay.

On May 5, a Shiprider crew located the sailboat with the man at the helm sailing eastward, south of Pender Island. Police boarded the vessel and arrested the man for possession of stolen property and failing to comply with his conditions. During a search of the boat police found tools and an inflatable runabout also determined to be stolen.

The success of the operation was an example of how inter-agency collaboration makes for effective border operations, said Insp. Jim Leonard, acting officer in charge of the BC RCMP federal serious and organized crime’s border integrity program.

“The mixed crews of our Shiprider program provide the flexibility and authorities required to operate seamlessly in the marine environment on both sides of the border.”

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