APALACHICOLA, Fla. (WTXL) — A high-tech heist in Franklin County has law enforcement officials seeking answers and offering a steep reward.
Nearly $150,000 worth of high-end GPS and navigation equipment was stolen from nearly a dozen boats at the Scipio Creek Marina in Apalachicola.
"Our county's been impacted not only by hurricanes in 2018, now we've had the pandemic," said AJ Smith, the Franklin County Sheriff. "So a lot of these folks here that have these boats, they're not just recreational, a lot of them are commercial guide services that go out and that's how they make their livelihood."
According to the Franklin County Sheriff's Office, thieves were able to gain access to the boat barn Wednesday morning, sometime between midnight and 7 a.m. despite the armed security system.
"Wednesday morning, I came in to do a charter," said David Fowlkes, a boat captain. "I had a family show up to go fishing and I went to go put the boat in the water and I had two holes in the dash."
Those holes housed equipment that, for Fowlkes, will cost as much as $30,000 to replace, and even more by the day.
"Every day I'm not fishing, I can lose $400 to $1,200 a day," Fowlkes said.
This, just as sales and tourism began to pick up after the pandemic and before the start of one of their heavier fishing seasons on June 1.
Sheriff Smith says there's a possibility this incident is connected to a larger operation.
"We're looking at some other similar type crimes that occurred across Florida," said Smith.
The Franklin County Sheriff's Office is asking anyone who may have outdoor surveillance equipment in the area to provide video from the morning of May 28.