French police boat blown away in gale later spotted on sale online

The dinghy disappeared in strong winds off the coast of Normandy after breaking its moorings but was seen in an online advert a year later

4 September 2021
the police dinghy

The police dinghy that went missing for almost a year has finally been returned to its owners after being spotted for sale online Pic: Gendarmerie de la Manche / @Gendarmerie_050 / Twitter

A dinghy belonging to gendarmes in Normandy that disappeared in a gale last year has been discovered on sale on the internet.

The boat was blown away in strong winds off the coast of Granville in Normandy on September 25, 2020. 

"The dinghy had broken its moorings", the gendarmes wrote on social networks at the time, specifying that usually a small rigid inflatable boat with a registration number that was beached would be reported to authorities.

But the boat was not found until almost one year later, on August 28, when an officer of the Manche gendarmes nautical brigade spotted it in an advert on Facebook, Ouest France reported. 

It was on sale at €2,500.

Three days after spotting the advert, a team of gendarmes went to the site where the boat was being advertised, in Ille-et-Vilaine, and confronted the sellers. 

The seller claimed to have discovered the boat “washed up during a sea hunting trip with a friend”, the gendarmes explained. 

"The two friends had not made the connection [to who owned the boat] and had finally decided to put it up for sale, since they were not using it,” the gendarmes said. 

The public prosecutor's office in Coutances (Manche), in charge of the investigation, has deemed the offence to be theft, and the two men are to be summoned by the courts in April 2022. 

The crime falls under article 311-1 of the criminal code, which states “theft is the fraudulent removal of another person’s property”. 

In this case, the boat, which was registered, belonged to the Granville nautical brigade, even though it was drifting without moorings.  

In the event of the discovery of a wreck, any vessel in a state of non-floatability, which was not the case in this instance, must be placed in a safe place and the maritime affairs administration must be notified within 48 hours, according to the website of the Mediterranean maritime prefecture. 

It is then placed under the surveillance of customs and the administration, which will try to find the owner. If no owner is found, the wreck will be put up for sale.

Related stories:

Police in France to travel for free on SNCF trains from 2022 if armed

Normandy travelling salesman fined €135 for urinating on country road

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