Police: Thief stole boat, needed rescue

Suspect targets $100,000 boat

A bumpy ride for a thief trying to steal a charter fishing boat.  Police say the crook wound up in the water, begging to be rescued with officers reeling him in.

Port Richey police say it was certainly a different kind of catch.  A charter fishing captain got the wakeup call around 4 o'clock Thursday morning that someone was trying steal his boat, still tied up behind Seaside Inn, 5330 Treadway Drive, Port Richey.


"I guess he decided he did not want to take the rods and reels.  It would just be better to take the whole darn boat," says owner Jesse Zuban.  The owner of the Paladin says the accused thief smashed his way into the cabin by breaking a window, trying to steal the $100,000 boat, but he didn't make it far.

"He made it about 20 feet, took the pilings with him and everything," says Zuban.

Zuban just bought the 42-foot sport fishing boat six months ago and nearly had his livelihood -- Paladin Fishing -- stolen.

"You work really hard to get something going, and someone just doesn't care," Zuban says.

Zuban tells 10News that the boat heist happened after closing time at Seaside Inn, when police say Jason Ewashko tried to take it for a ride and floored it, while still tied up, snapping two pilings, before ramming to a halt.

"It could've been a whole lot worse, that's for sure.  He got hung up on the pilings, if he would've gotten out of the slip, he would've crashed.  He was not in his right mind," Zuban says.


The accused boat bandit was still onboard when Zuban hopped on a police boat.  He says watching as Ewashko jumped ship to make a getaway.

"He bailed off the side of the boat in the water.  It's in the 50's.  He just started screaming, he made like two strokes to the swim platform.  They pulled him right up into the boat," Zuban says.

Police rescued Ewashko and gave him a ride to jail.  "Do the crime, you're going to do the time I guess," says Zuban.

Florida has the most boat thefts in the country according to the latest 2014 numbers from the National Insurance Crime Bureau.



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It's Todd Schwede's online business, Todd & Associates Inc.  He offers rewards to track down stolen boats.

"We found 5, 10, 15 years later, someone will look at the hull identification number, and it will come back to our website as a stolen boat," says Schwede.

Zuban's relieved to have his boat and business back.  "It's amazing nothing got damaged other than the glass in the back," says Zuban.


10News searched Ewashko's criminal records that show he's been arrested two times for DUI, once with property damage.

If you're thinking about buying a boat and want to make sure it's not stolen, FDLE has a database and you can check it by clicking here.

Schwede says if you already own a boat, you should do an online search as well.  "It's a good idea to periodically run the hull identification number on your boat to see that your boat hasn't shown up in another database or is listed for sale," says Schwede.



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