Chilmark police are investigating a series of thefts from several fishing boats earlier this month in which oyster drags were stolen from vessels anchored at Tisbury Great Pond.
Police were alerted to the thefts on March 4 after three Chilmark fishermen called to report that fishing equipment had been stolen from their boats. Officer Jeff Day responded to the Menemsha Texaco station, where he met with John Larsen, Stephen Larsen and John Armstrong.
The three men told Mr. Day that when they returned to their boats anchored at Tisbury Great Pond, they realized their dredges had been removed and the yellow propylene line that attached them had been cut. They said they found two sets of fresh boot prints leading from the shore to their boats.
Mr. Day then followed the three men to Larry Hepler’s property on Quansoo Road, where the boats were anchored. Officer Day then observed and photographed the footprints and several sets of tire tracks leading out of the Hepler property towards the Quansoo Beach parking lot.
The tracks revealed there were two distinct sets of boot marks, and that someone had parked a vehicle about 25 yards from the beach where the two boats were located. Mr. Armstrong told police that on Feb. 25 a suspicious man had been spotted walking around the Great Pond shoreline.
The man had stopped and talked to him about how the oystering season was going and stated that he did some similar fishing in “a similar pond in Edgartown.” Mr. Armstrong told Mr. Day he did not know the man but was confident that he could identify him if he saw a photograph.
Mr. Armstrong said the man may have been driving a white pickup truck with a flat bed and was accompanied by another man he could not describe and a yellow Labrador.
A total of four dredges were stolen from the two boats; all were pan drags, two of which were approximately 28 inches wide and two were approximately 34 inches wide.
Anyone with information pertaining to the investigation is asked to contact the Chilmark Police Department at 508-645-3310.