A police check of a vessel with no power or wind near the Canada/U.S. marine border lead to the arrest of a man on outstanding warrants and the seizure of the boat and other stolen property.
On May 4, a Shiprider crew, comprised of RCMP and U.S. Coast Guard personnel, was conducting patrols in a U.S. Coast Guard vessel when it encountered a 26-foot, white-and-blue sailboat near the Canada/U.S. marine border west of Stuart Island. The sailboat had no apparent power or wind as the occupants were sculling and later advised that they had run out of fuel. While police engaged with the crew, the sailboat and Coast Guard vessel drifted into U.S. waters and into a shipping lane. The boat was now a hazard to ships moving through the area, and assistance was offered to tow the crew to a U.S. port but they decided to return to Canadian waters by sail power. Records indicated that neither man was the registered owner of the sailboat but it had not been reported stolen. Police records also showed one of the men to be wanted in BC on outstanding warrants for his arrest, and the other to be on conditions not to be on any vessel he doesn’t own or possess documentation.
Upon their return to Canadian waters, the Shiprider crew boarded the sailboat and arrested the man on his outstanding warrants. The man was transferred to Sidney RCMP Detachment on a U.S. Coast Guard vessel for processing. The second man was allowed to sail on while police continued to attempt to locate the owner.
Investigators later learned from the registered owner that the vessel had been stolen from its mooring in Cadboro Bay and that they had now filed a police report.
The following day, a BC RCMP Shiprider crew located the sailboat sailing eastward, south of Pender Island. The man from the previous day was allegedly found at the helm and was arrested for Possession of Stolen Property and Fail to Comply with his conditions. During a search of the stolen vessel, police located tools and an inflatable runabout that were also alleged to be stolen. With assistance from the BC RCMP West Coast Marine Services, the sailboat and other property was recovered and secured.
Inter-agency collaboration is vital to the effectiveness of our border operations, said Inspector Jim Leonard, Acting Officer in Charge of the BC RCMP Federal Serious & Organized Crime 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.
Thomas Richard Cudworth has been charged with Possession of Stolen Property Over $5000, Possession of Stolen Property Under $5000 and Breach of Undertaking. He is scheduled to appear in provincial Court in Victoria on June 15, 2022.
Shiprider involves vessels jointly crewed by specially trained and designated law enforcement officers (primarily RCMP and U.S. Coastguard) who are authorized to enforce the laws on both sides of the international boundary line. Working together, armed law enforcement officers are able to transit back and forth across the border to help secure it from threats to national security, as well as prevent cross-border smuggling and trafficking.
The West Coast Marine Services Program is designed as a ‘front line police service’ that fulfils contractual duties under the Provincial Police Services Agreement within the territorial 12-mile limit along the coastal regions and communities of British Columbia. The patrol vessels are essentially floating detachments, equipped with the necessary resources and technologies to sustain law and order on the open waters.