Sure, Southwest Airlines has its “Wanna get away?” commercials. But apparently, more and more criminals among us are applying that motto to water, making their get-away by, believe it or not, kayak or canoe. In the past year, we’ve unearthed as many as five escape attempts where perps have used paddlecraft in an attempt to avoid prison time. Following are a few of our faves:
#1: Bring a paddle
Up a Creek: According to the Seattle Times, this past summer a thief got himself into trouble after stealing a canoe and then launching himself onto Puget Sound. The plan might have worked, say Burien police authorities, had he not forgotten a rather important piece of equipment: a paddle. It all started when the 20-year-old miscreant walked onto someone’s beachfront property in Seahurst and stole a 10-foot canoe. When the man saw that there were no paddles in it, he improvised by using a shovel.
#2: If you’re running from the authorities, don’t call them.
Up a Creek (continued): That proved too much of a hole to dig out of once he encountered winds of 30-40 mph on the Sound. The man later lost his makeshift shovel-paddle, and with waves slapping over the gunwales, he called 911 for help. The Coast Guard responded and brought the man to shore, where police were waiting. He was booked into jail for investigation of theft. “Shockingly, he also had two outstanding warrants for theft as well,” the Burien police reported in a news release. “He may be enjoying some institutional oatmeal and powdered egg mix as you read this.”
#3: Don’t leave your ID in the getaway kayak.
Who Needs a Roll?: According to Maine’s Kennebec Journal, police lost track of an assault suspect who allegedly kayaked away from them and then swam to shore to complete escape. According to a news release issued by Capt. Daniel Davies of the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Department, suspect Robert Whidden fled into the woods after allegedly assaulting an individual on Stetsons Way in West Gardiner shortly before 7 p.m. Responding officers determined that Whidden had gotten hold of a kayak and paddled out onto Lake Cobbossee. With the assistance of game wardens patrolling the lake for a nearby concert, sheriff deputies found Whidden paddling his kayak away from Stetsons Way. “When they caught up to him and advised him he was under arrest, Whidden exited the kayak and began swimming away,” Davies said. Whidden swam to a shallow area, where the warden’s boat was unable to follow. As he approached the shoreline, “Whidden was able to get out of the water before the deputies or wardens could get to him and fled the area on foot,” Davies said. But he made a crucial mistake. In making his hasty escape, he left behind several personal items, including his identification, Davies said.
#4: Paddles are still no match for motors
The Great Gainesville Gunwale Get-away: That’s the take-away from this summer’s report of a pair of fugitives who tried to escape capture by authorities by paddling away in a canoe down the Withlacoochee River in Madison County, Florida. Their pursuers, however, had a power boat, and the paddlers soon were in custody.
After suspecting that authorities had found them, the two fugitives ran to the Withlacoochee River, climbed into a small, blue canoe and tried to escape, according to reports. Officials used dogs to track the fugitives on foot and then a motorboat to chase and catch them on the river. Using two wooden paddles, the fugitives, who were wanted on various charges, managed to elude authorities for about five hours before they were caught at the Southwest County Road 141 bridge after a nine-mile journey down the river. The ultimate irony: one of the men was on the run due to a warrant for failing to appear on an escape charge.
#5: Make sure your escape canoe isn’t a conspicuous color
Red Canoe Run: It must be something about the onset of shorter days. This October, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, the Winnipeg Sun reports that after allegedly breaking into a home on Halifax’s Northwest Arm, an inlet on the Halifax Peninsula, a suspect “was making a getaway in a red canoe.” Police received a call about the break-in at 2:50 p.m. and, after arriving on scene, started to board a boat to pursue the canoeist by water. “We thank the citizen who offered to allow our officers to board their boat as part of our response to this incident; however, by the time we were able to organize this effort the man had made his way to land,” police said in a press release. The officers then headed to both sides of the inlet to catch the alleged thief wherever he landed. The 20-year-old suspect made his way to land, with police arresting him at Sir Sandford Fleming Park, with the help of the K9 unit. Police since recovered the canoe and items stolen from the residence. The stolen item? A sword.