Suncoast Marine owner charged with stealing boats

11:29 PM, Oct 22, 2010   |    comments
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PINELLAS COUNTY, Florida - Deputies say the owner of a local boat consignment business was stealing boats from all around Tampa Bay and selling them to buyers in Australia.

Arrested Thursday, Mark Conner, 38, faces more than a dozen charges that include grand theft and scheme to defraud.  Close associates of his describe financial problems he was desperate to escape.

Deputies have been investigating Conner for months after customers of his complained they never got paid after Suncoast Marine sold their boats.  But interviews led deputies to a warehouse in Pinellas Park, where they witnessed Conner and Larry Plumstead, 44, shrink-wrapping a boat for international delivery.

They discovered the boat - and several in an adjacent storage unit - were stolen.  One even matched surveillance video a victim posted of the theft on YouTube.

"They stole my boat faster than I could have," said Robert Ashe, the victim who posted the surveillance video.  "It takes me longer to hook my boat up to a truck than (it took them)."

Conner and Plumstead were arrested and the charges were still mounting Friday night.  Conner faces at least 15 counts and a bond of $95,000.  Plumstead faces at least eight counts and a bond of $40,000.

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