Leamington woman grateful after stolen narrowboat found

Ali Jeffrey back on her narrowboat
Ali Jeffrey back on her narrowboat

A Leamington woman has expressed her gratitude to those who helped find her stolen narrowboat.

Ali Jeffrey, 40, had moored her 50 ft boat, the Dawn Treader, above Fosse Lock late on Saturday August 19. When she returned at 6.30pm on Tuesday August 22, it had disappeared.

She immediately informed police and posted an appeal on Facebook, which was widely shared.

Thanks to information shared to police by Ali’s quick thinking, officers were able to find the boat on Wednesday August 23.

Ali said: “Thank you for your thousands of shares, and especially thanks to the person who spotted and reported their sighting.

“I’d love it if the reporter would PM me so I can thank them personally.”

A friend of Ali’s who was moored at the bottom of Bascote Lock, about two miles down the canal from where her boat was, contacted her to say he had seen the boat there at about 5.30pm on Monday August 21.

And another couple spotted the boat being used at the lock by two ‘inexperienced boaters’ who kept ramming the boat into the lock gate. They reported their description to the police.

On Wednesday August 23 officers began a search of the canal from Marston Doles towards Napton, during which they received further information from a boater who had seen Dawn Treader tied up at Lower Shuckburgh.

They found the boat there unattended. It looked like the thieves had broken into the boat through the front.

There were signs of a hurried departure, including several empty beer cans and signs of cannabis use left in the boat and the towpath. Police took fingerprints and DNA samples.

The thieves had departed with the ignition key and the other keys they found in the boat, which meant Ali had to arrange a tow to Braunston Marina in Northamptonshire.

The boat’s doors, hull and paintwork are all being repaired at the marina after rough driving through locks by the thieves had damaged it. It will cost around £2,000.

Tim Coghlan, managing director of Braunston Marina said: “This story is fortunately a fairly rare one.

“In near 30 years of working on the canals, I am unaware of any stolen narrowboat not being eventually recovered, though in one case it took five years.

“But the brilliant work by our local police team and Ali’s use of Facebook brought this one to an amazingly swift conclusion.

“Hopefully with all the information provided to the police and their own investigations, the perpetrators will be caught and brought to justice.”

Anyone with any further information about this crime should call Warwickshire Police on 101, quoting crime reference number 23S5/35125D/17.