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From Cornet Bay to e-Bay to jail bay
Two Oak Harbor men who sold electronics stolen from boats on the eBay website were recently sent to jail.
As part of plea bargains, both 22-year-old Joshua Benjamin and 19-year-old Shane Moody pleaded guilty in Island County Superior Court Sept. 27 to two counts of trafficking in stolen property in the second degree and one count of vehicle prowling in the first degree.
Judge Vickie Churchill agreed with the sentence recommendation presented by the defense and prosecution and sent both men to jail for nine months.
A third defendant, who was 17 years old at the time of the offenses, received a deferred sentence in juvenile court.
In addition, all three defendants were ordered to pay their share of $11,260 in restitution to 13 boat owners and one insurance company.
The defendants were implicated in a rash of boat break-ins on North Whidbey last winter. On Jan. 13, thieves broke into 20 boats at the Cornet Bay Marina and stole electronics, including GPS units, fish finders and radar. Just before Christmas, someone broke into a dozen boats in Mariners Cove, stole electronics and vandalized some vessels.
Investigators didn’t have a lot to go on until one of the boat owners noticed his stolen property was for sale on eBay.
Detective Sgt. Mike Beech and Detective John Nieder, both with the Island County Sheriff’s Office, identified who was selling the items and went to Benjamin’s apartment in Oak Harbor. They found a cache of electronic equipment that they estimated would sell on eBay for about $13,000.
Beech said the younger suspects claimed that Benjamin was the ringleader of the operation. They claimed Benjamin would give them alcohol, drive them to the area where he wanted them to steal stuff, tell them what to steal and pick them up afterward. Benjamin then sold the items on eBay.