News 4
 Stolen Boat from Grand Island Found in Niagara River

June 7, 2006 08:32 PM EDT

(June 7, 2006) - - Police found a boat stolen from Grand Island in the Niagara River Tuesday night. Was it used to smuggle illegal immigrants across the Canadian border? News 4's Jodi Hovenden reports.

Chris and Ray Gress have no idea who took their boat from a Grand Island marina Tuesday night.

It could have been kids joyriding, but the Gresses say Canadian authorities, who recovered the boat between Navy Island and the Canadian shore around 6:00 Wednesday morning, indicated other possibilities.

Chris Gress said, "They figure that it's... They don't know for sure, but it's probably some kind of illegal activity. Perhaps, they said, it could be smuggling illegal immigrants, or it could be involved with some kind of... they didn't really say terrorist activity, but observation; maybe checking security in the area."

And the Gresses say it didn't appear someone had been out for a good time.

Gress: Nothing else was touched on the boat -- the snack food, the beverages -- nothing is amiss. Everything's quite orderly, other than just a few things that were used.

Hovenden: What was used?

Gress: Our VHF radio was used. That's for transmission, communication between vessels, or a vessel and somebody on land. Some of the lights were used.

While authorities continue to investigate what the stolen boat was used for, they, along with the Gresses, are urging all boaters and fishermen to be vigilant.

U.S. Border Patrol Captain Tony Cretella said, "That's one of our greatest sources of information. Even if they see a boat that just doesn't look like they're fishing, but you see a guy with a pole; it just doesn't look right, so they give us a call, and sometimes it turns out to be nothing, but sometimes it actually turns out to be great information."

Gress said, "We don't know what the motivation was for stealing this. We really need to keep being alert."

People who see suspicious activity on the waterways can call the Waterway Watch hotline at 1-877-24-WATCH.