Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Rip-Off on Pensacola Beach

Barrier Island Girl has a news exclusive this week: someone has stolen the All Terrain Vehicle used by National Park workers to monitor sea turtle nests. Our favorite resident beach photographer observes:
The loss of this ATV, worth approximately $5,000, could hardly have come at a worse time. Sea turtle hatchlings are beginning to emerge and these ATV are used to patrol our beaches to make sure each nest is attended when that happens. * * * Having to patrol on foot now could mean the loss of many hatchlings to sea birds, ghost crabs, heat, or traffic... .
The Traveling Turtle Girl, a marine biologist working to protect turtles for the Gulf Islands National Seashore, has more details of the crime:
One of our ATVs, a green 2006 Honda, was stolen from our storage POD in the Park East lot sometime Sunday afternoon/night or very early Monday morning. Since we patrol starting at about 0530, it would have been VERY early.
Theft or receipt of federal government property is a felony carrying a penalty of up to ten years in prison and a monetary fine at least twice the value of the ATV. If the storage pod was located on county owned beach land, as seems likely, the thief or thieves also could be charged with a third degree felony under state law with no possibility of parole. Anyone conspiring with another to steal or receive the stolen property faces similarly stiff penalties.

People with information about the whereabouts of the stolen vehicle or the identity of the thieves are encouraged to telephone the joint U.S. Park-Gulf Breeze police dispatch office at 1-850-916-3010.


Turtle Girl said...

Thanks for helping to spread the word about our break-in. It's sad that someone would steal from a sea turtle program that really benefits the beach and it's visitors. DJ has been great in helping get the word out, but we still haven't heard anything. It's probably painted red now and without the "Q", but it still would have markings that identify it as NPS property. Losing it won't stop us though -- our staff and volunteers are dedicated to helping the turtles at GUIS and on Pensacola Beach. With 38 nests already, we're having the best year since 2000!

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