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Authorities looking for suspects in boat thefts; 2 suspects arrested
Donald Ray Ladd

Hall County Sheriff’s Office deputies are investigating a series of boat thefts on the north end of Lake Lanier in which the boats were apparently taken, stripped for items that could be sold and abandoned.

Two arrests have been made in the case of one of the thefts, according to a statement from Deputy Stephen Wilbanks, spokesman for the sheriff’s office. Donald Ray Ladd, 46, and Bruce Michael Vandervoet, 56, were charged with one count each of felony theft by taking in connection with the theft of a 2007 Sun Chaser pontoon boat that was reported stolen July 21 from a dock on Shoreline Drive and recovered July 23 near Bolding Mill Park. Wilbanks said both have been released on bond.

Both phone numbers listed for Ladd in the Hall County Comprehensive Justice Information System were out of order. An attempt to reach Vandervoet for comment was unsuccessful.

Wilbanks said surveillance cameras viewed in cooperation with the homeowners’ association of the Timberidge community off Grant Ford Road led to the arrest of Ladd and Vandervoet. He said investigators are still trying to determine if the two were involved in any of the other thefts. He added that efforts are also being made to identify others who were seen on the surveillance camera and determine if they were involved in any of the thefts.

All of the boats have been recovered, according to Wilbanks. In most of the cases, Wilbanks said ignition switches were apparently “manipulated so that the primary motor could be started and the boats simply driven away from the docks where they were tied.” He said it was unusual that the boats were moved and stripped.

“Items stolen from the boats range from electronics and sound systems to batteries and trolling motors; basically anything of value that could be resold,” Wilbanks wrote in an email. “A lot of boat thefts typically involve the entire vessel being removed from the local area completely, not just moved from one point to another and stripped for valuable items. This possibly indicates that the perpetrators were simply moving them to an area away from the owners’ residence so they could have some privacy while they stripped them. We’ve seen items stolen from boats that are docked quite a bit in the past, but they usually just leave the boats where they are.”

Other thefts, according to the statement from Wilbanks, that are under investigation include:

• A 2003 Sweetwater Tuscany pontoon boat reported stolen June 25 from a dock on Nautical Way  and recovered July 4 at Little River Park,

• A 2007 Seadoo personal watercraft reported stolen June 26 from a dock on Wild Turkey Way and recovered July 1 in Wahoo Creek near Shoreline Drive,  

• A 2015 Xcursion pontoon boat reported stolen June 30  from a dock on River View Drive and recovered July 1 in Wahoo Creek near Shoreline Drive,

• A 2014 Chaparral fish/ski boat reported stolen from a dock on Shoreline Drive July 17 and recovered the same day on the shoreline near Whippoorwill Lane,

• A 1995 Yamaha Waverunner personal watercraft reported stolen July 18 from a dock on Mount Vernon Road and recovered the same day by sheriff’s office Marine Patrol floating unattended near Wahoo Creek Park and  

• A 1999 Sea Ray boat reported stolen July 18 from a dock on Cool Springs Road and recovered on July 25 near Shoreline Drive.

Anyone with information regarding these cases are asked to contact investigator Charles Giaquinta at 770 531-6879.