‘She was delighted when we got it back for her as she was just learning to paddle,’ Senior Constable Paul Crawshaw said, after he received a thank you card from the girl last week.
The girl’s Finn Gizmo kayak was stolen from her father’s boat at Aquarama Marina in East Fremantle in March, one of many incidents in which kayaks, stand-up paddle boards, diving and fishing equipment and boating safety gear was taken from boats at Royal Perth, Royal Flying Squadron, Claremont, Royal Freshwater Bay and East Fremantle yacht clubs, Pier 21 in North Fremantle and Aquarama.
Water Police established Operation Harlem that tracked some of the items being advertised on a popular internet second-hand site.
The four-month investigation resulted in the arrest of a southern suburbs man (34) who was charged with 26 allegations of theft on June 5.
‘It will be alleged he was even swimming out to boats on their moorings at Blackwall Reach and Claremont Yacht Club, and in some cases using a bolt cutter to cut through chains that secured kayaks,’ Senior Constable Rob Jennings said.
Several boat owners were twice victims when the man allegedly returned to their vessels to steal after taking other equipment several weeks earlier.
Police have yet to identify some suspected stolen items, including diving regulators and vests, radios, emergency kits, fishing rods, ski paddles and lifejackets.
‘All valuable items on boats must have identification marks, be secured or taken off when they are not being used, and all thefts must be reported, but this arrest has made a significant reduction in the volume of crime on our waterways,’ Snr Const Jennings said.
The man faced Fremantle Magistrates Court last Friday and was released on bail to reappear at a later date.
Call 131 444 to claim items or report thefts from boats.