SEARSPORT, Maine — A teenager recently charged with stealing a racing lobster boat worth about a quarter of a million dollars from the Searsport town dock this summer just wanted a ride across Penobscot Bay to Sedgwick, police said Monday.
Dakota Obrien, 18, of Searsport, was arrested on Oct. 20 and charged with felony theft, after a two-month-long investigation that brought together several law enforcement agencies.
The First Team, a speedy 36-foot-long black-and-white lobster boat that’s used both for commercial fishing and lobster boat racing, disappeared from its mooring the night of Aug. 18. It was found undamaged the following night by Sedgwick Harbormaster Bill Grant.
“I don’t know if it was much [of] a joyride,” Searsport Police Chief Dick LaHaye said Monday. “Apparently, he wanted to get to Sedgwick. He got there in this boat, which was valued at between $200,000 and $250,000.”
LaHaye didn’t say why Obrien wanted to cross the bay so badly that night. The chief said authorities don’t believe that Obrien had been familiar with the boat before making it his water taxi.
“It just seemed like he started flipping switches, and it turned over,” the chief said.
In August, boat owner Travis Otis described his feelings when he learned that the boat had vanished.
“It was just awful. It felt like somebody was kidnapped in the family,” he said. “I thought words that can’t be printed in the BDN.”
He and his father, Keith Otis, had built the boat at their Searsport business, Otis Enterprise Marine Corp. Travis Otis said it wouldn’t have been easy for someone to take the powerful, custom-built boat and navigate it at night around the islands and ledges of Penobscot Bay. So when the harbormaster found the First Team in good condition, the boat owner was thankful and “excited beyond belief.”
According to LaHaye, Obrien had worked on the water in the Sedgwick area in the past. The youth was very cooperative with police, the chief said.
The joint investigation involved the Maine Marine Patrol, which acted as lead agency, as well as the Maine State Police and the Searsport Police Department. The Maine State Police crime lab’s fingerprint division also was important, as fingerprints had been left in the boat, LaHaye said.
“It just got to the point where everything started pointing to [Obrien,]” the chief said.
Obrien is still being held in police custody at Two Bridges Regional Jail in Wiscasset. His bail has been set at $500 cash or $5,000 surety, according to an official at Waldo County Jail in Belfast where he was booked.
Obrien’s court date likely will be set for December or early January, the chief said, describing the case as unusual.
“It was a lot of involvement with a lot of different agencies, which really brought it to a good conclusion,” he said. “The boat was found, with no damage. He got to where he was going, apparently.”