'Pirate' crackdown at Oakland Estuary shows progress, but some say it's not enough

ByRyan Curry KGO logo
Wednesday, April 3, 2024
'Pirate' crackdown at Oakland Estuary sees progress, but not enough
Crackdown on "pirates" at the Oakland Estuary is showing progress, but some say it's not enough.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- It's been almost four months since police removed the anchored boats at the Oakland Estuary. Since then, residents living near the estuary say things have improved but there is still work to be done to clean it up. Two more boats are anchored in the middle of the water.

Last week, Oakland police arrested three people living on those two boats who are accused of burglarizing nearby businesses. Police say they searched the boats near Union Point Park and found some of the stolen items. However, a woman who lives on the boat and asked us not share her name, says they were wrongly accused.

"We are not pirates," she said. "They are trying to accuse somebody of something."

She claims police didn't take stolen items from her boat - but took items she paid for.

MORE: Oakland boat owners watch out for 'pirates' as crime spreads to the water

"When they came with the search warrant, they took my personal stuff," she said. "Stuff that I bought and have receipts for."

We reached out to OPD for comment and we are waiting to hear back. The Oakland Estuary has had an issue with crime. Last year, the Coast Guard was brought in to stop pirates who were stealing from boats and sinking them. Some of those sunken boats are still in the water.

"That is a 72-foot ex-Navy boat that is sunk here by this public fishing pier," said Brock De Lappe, the former Harbormaster of the Estuary. "At this point, with the exception of a few anchored out boats, we are left with just dealing with these sunken boats."

It's illegal to anchor a boat in the estuary away from the marina. However, De Lappe says getting a permit to park at the marina can be expensive and could take a while.

MORE: Coast Guard deploys boats to deter 'pirates' taking over Oakland estuary, officials say

"With the housing crisis in the Bay Area, there is a tremendous demand for live aboard spaces," De Lappe said. "Getting one can take a while, and it is a constant challenge to patrol. Some come into the marina where they are allowed two nights a week. Harbormasters can't patrol the docks every night of the week."

The woman living on the boat knows what she is doing it illegal, but she says the Coast Guard is letting her stay because she can't afford to dock it at the marina.

"The Coast Guard specifically told me it is okay for me to park here," she said.

De Lappe says he wants OPD to keep monitoring the estuary. He fears if they don't, more illegal boats will show up again and crime will rise.

"What is most important going forward, is that the city of Oakland and the new police chief understands that the estuary is worth protecting," he said.

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