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Boat owners upset about recent Smith Mountain Lake thefts

Thieves took hundreds of dollars worth of equipment.

BEDFORD COUNTY, Va. – Some people at Smith Mountain Lake are upset about a recent series of burglaries in Bedford County.

Deputies say there have been at least three thefts in the last two weeks in the Waterwheel area. They say people have been stealing equipment right out of docked boats including fishing poles, tackle boxes and electronics like fish finders, which can go for $2,000.

“I was shocked,” Jean Hurt said.

She, and others we spoke to, say they hope the trend doesn’t continue.

“It's a shame,” Ralph Merica said. “People work hard to get that stuff, and they save, and somebody just steals from you. It's wrong.”

Merica owns a boat at the lake. So does Steve Bridge, who hadn’t heard the news until we told him.

“It would make me be more careful as far as not leaving stuff out on the deck,” he said.

Major Ricky Gardner, chief deputy at the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office, says the investigations are ongoing.

“The victims are pretty upset and I don't blame them,” he said.

Tom Scarbro owns a boat. He showed us how he secures his valuable items.

“People are here to relax and enjoy life,” he said. “You wouldn't think a calm and serene community like this would have an issue.”

His wife, Carol, isn’t surprised.

“That's sad. It's such a great community,” she said. “But it doesn't surprise me in today's society.”

Deputies advise people to take what they can inside each day, and secure the rest. There’s a reward of up to $1,000 for anyone with information on the thefts.

Deputies say crime has gone down overall at the lake over the last few years. More people have moved in and are living there year-round, which deputies say has deterred theft.