A boat thief swiped a yacht in Southern California on Thursday, authorities said, then collided with multiple other boats in the harbor.
Joel Siam, 38, was booked on suspicion of grand theft of a boat and possession of a stolen boat and was being being held on $3 million bail, Orange County jail records showed on Friday.
Dispatchers on Thursday had originally been notified at 9:21 a.m. PST about an act of vandalism along the docks near 1200 W. Coast Highway before another call came, reporting a stolen boat a half-mile away, Newport Beach police spokeswoman Heather Rangel said.
“It was determined that the suspect was the same person for each incident,” Rangel said. “The suspect stole the boat and proceeded to leave the area when he collided with multiple boats in the bay.”
The suspect, from San Diego, was captured by the Orange County Sheriff’s Harbor Patrol, police said.
As Siam first started operating the luxury vessel, it caught the attention of real estate broker Dylan Eckardt, who was at his new office right on the docks.
“That was crazy,” Eckardt told NBC News on Friday. “I was on the phone and I heard the boat back out and when the boat backed out I started videoing.”
Eckardt, who grew upon the far east end of Long Island, initially believed there was a mechanical problem with the yacht.
“I grew up on Montauk, I know a lot about boats and I was like, ‘What the hell was going on?’ I thought the engine was stuck, like the throttle (was stuck),” he said. “Then I saw the guy up top taking his shirt off, I knew there was a situation.”
Siam is due to appear in court on Monday, jail records showed. It wasn’t immediately clear if he had hired an attorney been assigned one by Friday, a spokeswoman for the Orange County DA said.
Rangel, the Newport Beach police spokesman, on Friday declined further comment on the incident. It wasn’t immediately clear what the suspect’s motive might have been or if he knew the owner of the stolen yacht.