Suspected yacht thieves remain silent

March 5, 2013 7:33:50 PM PST
The three people suspected of stealing a multi-million dollar yacht are refusing to cooperate with police. The suspects were arrested Monday after running the yacht aground in Pacifica.

The 82-foot Darling was stolen from its slip at the Sausalito Yacht Harbor and was recovered early Tuesday morning just 30 minutes after midnight. By Tuesday evening authorities know more about the yacht than the three people accused of the theft.

One of the suspects is 63-year-old Leslie Gardner. Police in Sausalito claim Gardner is from Washington State, while police in Pacifica say he may be from Wyoming. On Monday cameras caught him at the wheel of the boat trying unsuccessfully to get it off the sand in Pacifica.

Another suspect is Dario Mira. He is 54 years old and from Aptos.

The third suspect is Lisa Modawell, also from Aptos. Both she and Mira have police records in Santa Cruz.

"For Public Disorder, for property crimes like theft, narcotics," said Sausalito Police Chief Jennifer Tejada.

She couldn't elaborate more because the Pacifica Police Department arrested and questioned the suspects.

"Well yesterday when the detectives at the Pacifica Police Department interviewed the suspects they were less than forthcoming with information," said Pacifica police Capt. Daniel Steidle.

The San Jose Mercury News has reported that the trio is being held in lieu of $1.01 million bail.

The owner of the boat, John Fruth of Santa Rosa is still refusing on camera interviews but he told ABC7 over the phone that he'd never met any of the suspects.

The boat is being repaired at a boat yard in Richmond. The rudder was broken, the propeller was damaged, and the keel was knocked loose.

Authorities believe they know exactly how it was stolen.

"And some keys were on the boat so, once they gained entry to the boat, they were able to start the engine with the key," said Tejada.

However even without a key, getting a yacht's engines started is not as difficult as one might think.

When Erik Mattson, the manager of the boat yard was asked whether a key is needed to start up a boat like the Darling, he said, "No there's just a series of switches and control panels that you turn on. A lot of times there's no engine keys and if there was they're not very complicated to bypass."

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