FAIRHAVEN — Fairhaven police are searching for a man suspected of stealing a sailboat after the boat washed ashore unoccupied on a town beach Monday morning.

Police spokesperson Lt. Kevin Kobza said the sailboat was reported stolen from Community Boating Center in New Bedford at around 8 p.m. Sunday.

The boat was discovered empty at a beach on West Island in Fairhaven at around 6:45 Monday morning, Kobza said.

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According to Kobza, the suspect is an unidentified white man.

A surveillance image of the suspected boat thief
Courtesy Fairhaven Police
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The 24-foot craft was found after heavy thunderstorms that prompted fears the occupant may have gone overboard, although Kobza said it is still unknown if the boat was simply abandoned.

As of noon on Monday, it was still on the beach and being investigated as an active crime scene.

A large number “2” was visible on the hull, and the tiller had broken off.

At least five other emergency response vessels in the water off the shore are searching for the suspect.

The investigation is ongoing.

Anyone with any information on the boat or the suspect is urged to contact Fairhaven Police.

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