Crime In San Francisco Is So Bad, There's Now Actual Pirates In The Bay

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by Tyler Durden
Saturday, Nov 25, 2023 - 01:00 AM

Authored by Allan Stein via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

Former harbormaster of Oakland Brock De Lappe doesn't like to use the word "piracy" to describe waterborne crime on the Oakland/Alameda Estuary.

"People have this romantic view of pirates—Johnny Depp; Pirates of the Caribbean—argh! Avast ye, matey!" said Mr. De Lappe, a marine consultant who was also Alameda's harbormaster before his retirement.

(Illustration by The Epoch Times, Freepik)

The reality is anything but romantic. The so-called pirates are nothing like the "Real Oakland Raiders," as one newspaper headline put it.

"These people are just common criminals," living on illegal "anchor-off" vessels committing robberies within the San Francisco Bay, he said. Anchor-offs, or anchor outs, are boats that are illegally anchored without a permit.

This past summer, a spree of robberies plagued the 800-foot-wide estuary involving stolen motor boats that were used to prey on larger vessels and marinas.

An elevator is decorated with a poster of actor Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow from ""Pirates of the Caribbean,"" in Hollywood on April 15, 2011. (GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP via Getty Images)

In one instance, thieves made off with three inflatable dinghies from an Alameda yacht club. Burglars hit at least four other Bay Area yacht clubs, a sailing center, and several owners living on their boats.

Mr. De Lappe, 74, said that while the city of Alameda has been diligent in keeping illegal anchor-offs at bay, Oakland continues to struggle with derelict boats, currently at around 20.

"There's a criminal element that shows up that's not just living on these boats anchored out," Mr. De Lappe told The Epoch Times. "They get really aggressive, going out at night into marinas and stealing equipment off boats, stealing boats out of marinas."

"Alameda has never allowed this to become a problem on their shoreline. They've been victimized. These pirates have gone into Alameda marinas. They're feeling the brunt of it. But they don't have the anchor-out vessels on their [Alameda] side."

Outboard Motor Shop owner Craig Jacobsen said thieves struck two of his boats at his business in Oakland and made off with thousands of dollars in parts and electronics.

"We recovered it at the same [anchor-off] flotilla. I know of about 20 [boats] stolen," Mr. Jacobsen told The Epoch Times. "They've all been found in the same place."

"For a couple of months, it was serious. We got calls every day about people having their boats stolen. They'd go into the marinas at night, take the small inflatables and stuff, and take them over to their homeless encampment," he said.

Former Oakland Marinas and Alameda Harbormaster Brock de Lappe points to a group of illegally anchored derelict boats along the Oakland Estuary on Nov. 13, 2023. (Allan Stein/The Epoch Times)

"It's just homeless people living on boats. For some reason, nobody wants to deal with it. The [Oakland] police say it's Alameda's issue. The Alameda police say it's the [Oakland] side of the estuary."

Mr. Jacobsen said it makes no difference in installing security fencing and cameras to deter crime.

Criminals always find a way in.

"Twice at night, people came into my yard. One night, I saw people in hoodies going through a boat in the back of my yard. I chased them off. Who knows what's happening at night when we're not here," he said.

The police are short-handed, he said, so calling 911 doesn't necessarily prompt a fast response.

"We called 911 the morning we found our stuff and were told the officers were tied up with violent crime. We had to deal with it ourselves," Mr. Jacobsen said.

Tracy Reigelman is the assistant commodore at the Oakland Yacht Club in Alameda. In his role, he's been dealing with crime related to homelessness for months—not just from so-called pirates but shoreline criminals as well.

"The reality is there is a very lax structure around crime and prevention around here," he said. "The real issue is that we have these organized crime units, which consist of anchor-out pirates and shoreside crime.

A homeless man brings his small boat alongside a derelict vessel anchored illegally in the Oakland Estuary on Nov. 13, 2023. (Allan Stein/The Epoch Times)

"The amount of crime on the water—when people use the term pirates—is high. But what people don't realize is people on the shoreside within 100 or 200 feet of the shore, it's just as high," he said.

"We've had physical assaults at the restaurant right here. We've had just last weekend three cars stolen from the parking lot here."

"The last three months, we probably had a dozen or more stolen vehicles. We've had trespassing, thefts, harassment. Last night—Sunday—we had SWAT here in the parking lot. A person in the hotel next door, which is currently housing [homeless], had locked himself in a room."

Mr. Reigelman told The Epoch Times the yacht club has tried to work with Alameda city and county officials to find a solution, but "it hasn't worked out at all."

"There is a jurisdictional issue and control, and it runs right down the middle of the estuary. The cooperation between the agencies—there is none," Mr. Reigelman said.

Areas recently targeted by estuary pirates include the public docks at Jack London Square and the Jack London Aquatic Center in Oakland. There is also the estuary channel west of the Bayside Hotel and Union Point Park.

Simon Greaves, 56, a Sausalito resident from the United Kingdom, is the owner of the sailboat Sun Odyssey, equipped with an inflatable dinghy moored at Jack London Square.

Simon Greaves of Sausalito, Calif., stands next to his sailboat anchored at Jack London Square in Oakland, Calif., on Nov. 10, 2023. (Allan Stein/The Epoch Times)

While he's anchored his sailboat for more prolonged periods along the Oakland Estuary, he's hesitant to do so now because of rising property crime.

"From what we heard, it wasn't like that when we were here probably eight months ago, and we started to hear about it a lot. So yes, it's definitely increased, but I haven't heard anything recently. I don't know whether they're on top of it. It was more this [Oakland] side," he said.

Mr. Greaves also noticed an increasing number of anchor-offs, and kept the engine on the dinghy separate to prevent theft. He suspects the electronic security gates that keep criminals out of the public marinas encourage thieves to use boats instead.

"So, when we go to this marina, they give you a special key. That key allows you to get in—it's the same with our docking in Sausalito," he told The Epoch Times.

The term "pirates" is a fair term, he said.

Mark, who lives on his skiff in the Oakland Estuary, said he felt personally violated after one of his backup gas tank was stolen as he was going through "tough times."

"When you get robbed, it's pretty bad. All you can do for the most part is keep an eagle eye and make sure you don't see strangers who look like they don't belong," Mark told The Epoch Times.

"It's like a nomadic thing. Guys come in and start stealing stuff. It's sporadic."

"There was a guy over here causing a lot of problems. He jumped on a boat a gal was living on like he was going to do something. I would say they're probably addicted to something and have to support their habit somehow."

A vandalized car is flipped upside down as protesters face off against police in Oakland, Calif., on May 29, 2020. (JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images)

According to the Oakland Police Department (OPD) crime report for Sept. 4–10, robberies had increased by 20 percent in 2023, with 348 reported incidents compared with 291 the year before.

The city saw a whopping 44 percent increase in burglaries, with 2,137 reported incidents compared to 1,670 in 2022.

Crime overall is up 25 percent year over year, the report added.

An OPD spokeswoman told The Epoch Times that since August, there have been "very few incidents" on the Oakland Estuary, "except for a two-week span that included thefts ranging from small items to a large vessel."

"OPD received three separate stolen item reports during the above two-week span," the spokeswoman said.

"The crimes were generally committed at night or during early morning hours. Victims are boat owners who have their boats stored in local marinas. There were no weapons used during the two-week span of crime."

So far, police have arrested a transient man charged with stealing an outboard motor.

Mr. Reigelman said it's difficult to assess the exact percentage of crimes committed by the homeless because their victims aren't always willing to report them.

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