Stolen yacht washes ashore in Pacifica, California

March 5, 2013 7:51:54 AM PST
Three suspects have been arrested after a stolen 82-foot yacht ran aground at Linda Mar Beach in Pacifica, California. Two men and a woman were onboard the $2.7 million ''Darling'' when it was reported stolen from the Sausalito Yacht Harbor.

The Coast Guard responded to a distress call from the vessel around 5:20 a.m. Monday. Despite several efforts by authorities, the crew had refused to communicate with authorities for hours. The crew finally surfaced on the deck of the boat and came to shore around noon.

The owner of the boat was at the scene; he called police to report the vessel stolen after watching TV news reports. No injuries have been reported and no fuel leaks have been detected.

Authorities surrounded the yacht after the three people on board refused to get off. The suspects are reportedly not talking with authorities. According to the San Jose Mercury News, a salvage company is working with officials on a plan to remove the boat from the ocean.

Leslie Gardner, 63, Dario Mora, 54, and Lisa Modawell, 56, were arrested on suspicion of grand theft and conspiracy, Pacifica Police Capt. Joe Spanheimer said.

"The biggest concern was whether they had weapons or not; and we had no way of knowing that and knowing what their intentions would be, so we were pretty concerned about that," California State Parks lifeguard Tim Fillars said.

The lifeguards said there were a couple of cases of beer below deck, though most of it had not been opened. The owner of the yacht, Santa Rosa resident John Fruth, is the founder of Ocular Sciences, a soft contact lens company in Concord, Calif.

The Darling is an expensive sailboat. Another built by the same company in the same year is listed at $2.7 million. The last time the boat was available for charter was in 2009; the going rate then was between $31,000 and $34,000 a week.

At the Sausalito marina, some sailors wondered how the boat thieves had the skill to navigate a luxury super yacht out of the marina, but still manage to run it aground.

"It's no small feat to take a boat of this size out of a slip and out of a bay," said Travis Lund, The Sunsail base manager. "Something either went drastically wrong for them, or they didn't know what they were doing, but they certainly had the wherewithal to take it out of this marina."