There is a great deal of wealth in the superyacht industry and crew find themselves surrounded by expensive and valuable luxury items – but sometimes they go missing. The Crew Report has asked four superyacht captains to share their experiences of petty theft on board.

Captain Mike Hitch
On one yacht I was on we noticed that we were constantly replacing scuba diving equipment and uniforms, especially the expensive ‘wet weather’ gear. One day, on a routine cabin inspection, we found the wardrobe full of brand new uniform and various dive regulators, still in their boxes. The crewmember who lived there was on annual holiday. Unwittingly, a few days before, we had paid the excess baggage fees when he left, on the basis that he was taking all of his ‘souvenirs’ home that he had bought on his travels. In fact, he was taking the scuba equipment and uniforms home, bit by bit. I was not surprised to receive his resignation letter, via email, the next day, but the trust had been broken. Sadly, we now have the option of searching all crewmembers’ bags as they leave the ship.

Captain Massimo Marras
Items such as watches, cameras, laptops and tools started to disappear and the captain took several months to discover where the responsibility lay for these thefts. Initially the captain and crew thought the thief could have been someone from shore. Security measures were enforced but everything was useless because property was still disappearing. At this point it was clear that the thief was one of the crew.
The atmosphere on board changed from relaxed to tense and crewmembers were stressed, keeping everything locked in every place considered safe. All cabins were locked at all times and, for safety reasons, when the crew were going out in the evening they had to leave their cabin keys to the watchmen – it was a total mess of keys passing between hands.

Nobody in particular was suspected until the last crime was committed, while only three people were on board. One of these people then started to behave strangely; the captain suspected him to be responsible for the thefts and he was fired.

Crew sometimes think that they are entitled to steal from very rich people. What they do not understanding is that it is a small industry and they will get famous for making the wrong choices.

Captain Fernando Vallmitjana, Tales
I fired the crew chef at the end of the season because the crew did not like his food. To be nice to him I told him and gave him 21 days’ notice. And this is the best part; he rented a car during his last weekend and when people weren’t looking he put into the car galley appliances, food, the towel from his cabin and a torch from his cabin. Two days later we updated the inventory for the new crew toiletries for all 13 crewmembers and it was almost all gone! So I called him and asked him to send my greetings to each item he’d taken.

Crew sometimes think that they are entitled to steal from very rich people. What they do not understand is that it is a small industry and they will get famous for making the wrong choices.

Find the full article with further comment and stories from additional captains in issue 66 of The Crew Report.

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