Police arrest suspect in boat theft; he was living on another boat

jpawloski@theolympian.comMay 14, 2013 

Olympia police arrested a 26-year-old man Saturday on suspicion of stealing a 12-foot boat at Swantown Marina, and are investigating whether he is responsible for stealing a number of outboard motors that have gone missing at the marina over the past several weeks, a police spokeswoman said.

Police arrested Nathaniel Burling Saturday while he was shooting up heroin alongside a dumpster in the alley behind Jezebel’s in downtown Olympia, court papers state. Burling was being held Monday at the Thurston County Jail on suspicion of second-degree theft and vehicle prowl. His bail was set at $5,000.

According to court papers:

Police were dispatched to Swantown on Wednesday after a boat owner reported that his 12-foot “Smoker Craft” had been stolen. An off-duty Olympia police officer made contact with Burling, who was piloting the stolen vessel. Burling was arrested for a misdemeanor warrant at that time, but he was subsequently released from jail.

As the investigation progressed, Olympia police learned that Burling apparently was living on a second boat, a Bayliner, at Swantown. The police found evidence that Burling had broken into the Bayliner and was living and shooting up drugs there.

Police found a backpack on the boat that belongs to Burling and contained handwritten notes referencing outboard motors that he might have been trying to sell.

The backpack also contained an electronic gate key for the docks that had been reported stolen from Swantown.

Greg Hinkle, owner of the boat Burling had been living on, said Monday that he is missing fishing gear and a small television from the boat. Whoever broke in also was taking apart the dash in an attempt to get into its electronics, Hinkle said.

He said there is a rank stench in the boat and that he plans to disinfect it before taking it out on the water.

Hinkle said that in the past weeks, numerous outboard motors have gone missing from some of the smaller vessels in the marina.

Hinkle said he feels violated and is angry that someone had broken into his boat, had stolen items and was living there.

At the same time, he added, the circumstances of the suspect seem “very sad.”

Jeremy Pawloski: 360-754-5445 jpawloski@theolympian.com

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