Police borrow man’s boat to nab suspected jet ski thief

(NewsNation) — A man in Florida didn’t get very far when he allegedly tried to steal a jet ski, thanks to the generosity of a good Samaritan who aided the police.

When Ronald Williams, 48, allegedly tried to steal a jet ski in Volusia County, Florida, his plans went sideways when he couldn’t even start the watercraft. Instead, he decided to drive away on the stolen Jet Ski.

Police could see Williams drifting around the water on the Jet Ski he allegedly stole, but had no immediate way to reach him.

It was then that the police approached a man and his son who were about to leave in their boat and asked if they would take the police out on the water to apprehend the suspect. Instead of driving the police on the Jet Ski, the man told authorities they could borrow the boat as long as they brought it back.

The police obliged, using the boat to join Williams, whom they asked to swim to them. Williams, who was adrift in open water on a jet ski he couldn’t start, told police he couldn’t swim.

“So you’re going to take a Jet Ski and you can’t swim?” a sheriff’s deputy can be heard yelling at Williams in body camera footage released by police.

Deputies threw a rope at the suspect and told him to tie it to the jet ski so they could get him ashore, without Williams trying his hand at swimming.

Williams was eventually taken into custody and charged with motor vehicle theft and trespassing. The Jet Ski was returned to its owner.

“Truth is stranger than fiction,” Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said on “Dan Abrams Live.” “This guy is riding his bike through a neighborhood, neighbors see him cross a backyard, get onto a dock where people weren’t home, and try to start the Jet Ski.”

After these neighbors yelled at the suspect that they were going to call the police as he tried unsuccessfully to start the Jet Ski, which the owners had disabled, he instead decided to take his big getaway by flying away.

“Where he was going, I have no idea. But luckily we probably saved his life because he probably would have drowned,” Chitwood said.

The potentially life-saving capture of Williams and the return of the Jet Ski to its owners would not have been possible without the family who allowed the police to use their boat.

“Fortunately, these people were fantastic; they let us commandeer the boat to get out and do what we had to do to make the arrest,” Chitwood said.

It may sound like a strange story, but Chitwood said it wasn’t the first time his department had to borrow a boat to capture a suspect. Last year, a suspect in a car chase fled into a river and swam to an island through alligator-infested waters to hide from police, Chitwood said. The police borrowed a pontoon boat to find the man.

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