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Wake Forest company, police use Craigslist to find stolen boats

Posted December 1, 2010
Updated December 2, 2010

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— A Wake Forest boat business was up the creek without a paddle when equipment was stolen from the facility in October.

The company used the Internet to get back the more than $1,000 in equipment, which included six canoes, a kayak and a trailer.

“More times than not, these things don’t get solved,” manager Bob Doty said of the Oct. 15 theft.

Doty’s boss, Chuck Arkell, decided that if the thieves planned to sell the boats, he could find them by shopping around the Internet. He turned to Craigslist.

“He called back and said, ‘I see one of our boats on Craigslist,’” Doty said.

Just hours after it was stolen, it appeared the company’s kayak was up for sale.

Doty contacted the police, and they put together a plan to get the thieves to bring the boat back to them by offering to buy it.

Arkell arranged for Doty to meet the sellers in the parking lot of a Sheetz gas station located at 564 U.S. 1 Highway in Youngsville. Police gave him marked bills to make the transaction.

Police told Doty that if he recognized the boat, he should make the buy. That would be the officers clue to swarm in.

“I knew right away it was ours. It still had the Paddle Creek sticker on it,” Doty said.

Boats, kayaks stolen from Wake Forest company Boats, kayaks stolen from Wake Forest company

A dozen hidden officers moved in with guns drawn. They surrounded the two men, who showed up to sell the boat.

The men, identified in search warrants as Garrett Michael Whitt, 22, and Zachary David Harris, 21, were taken into custody. Investigators said Harris told them about other stolen property being held in a rented storage facility and other items sold through Craigslist.

“They rolled in and took them down,” Doty said. “They were pretty surprised. I do not think they expected it.”

Paddle Creek got their boats back.

Whitt faces charges including larceny, breaking and entering, conspiracy, possession of stolen goods and receiving stolen goods. He has previous convictions for selling drugs, a felony weapons charge and larceny after breaking-and-entering and was on probation at the time of his arrest, according to state Department of Correction records.

Harris faces two charges of larceny. 

Both men were transported to Franklin County to face charges unrelated to the Paddle Boat theft, authorities said. 

Police obtained a warrant to search an e-mail account used by the suspects. Investigators believe that could turn up more stolen property.

5 Comments

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  • dolphinrv Dec 2, 2010

    The sad part is that too many people expect someone else to get involved. This seems to be a small thing, at least the Paddle shop was concerned enough to get involved and HELP the police. Maybe if more 'citizens' helped rather than sit on their duff and hoped that someone would fix the problem for them, the country would get back to what I remember as I grew up.

  • Das G Dec 2, 2010

    When I first saw the picture of the perp, I though Tony Stewart had been stealing boats.

  • homefree Dec 2, 2010

    The sad part is the owners of the boat located the boat themselves. You can't get local police to try and find anything when it's stolen. Been there 4 times, had things stolen and you get that tough sht look for the cops. Notice it took 12 cops to take down 2 guys. Maybe we are using our tax money for too much city and county employees. you think.

  • dixieangel59 Dec 2, 2010

    Seriously? Does anyone in that area have anything better to do than giving him the satisfaction of posting your two cents? Do you really think that your comments bother him in any way? You are just paying him attention which is what he wants so Congrats! Job well done! You tell him to get a job? What are all of you doing today that gives you so much time to worry about what he is doing? Are you all really adults? I have had things stolen from me, more than once, in front of my own home. It sucks! It makes me mad! But would I really say that I wish I could protect my property with deadly force? When they have not physically done anything to me? Wow! You really must not be a Christian. And if you have that much hate in your heart. You should go to church rather than wasting your time on here. First and last name? Doesnt sound threatning to me. It sounds like owning up to whatever it is you have to say. Whatever happened to that? And no I dont need to put my name for you because they know

  • Bartmeister Dec 2, 2010

    A good story for the innocent.