JONESPORT, Maine — Becky Beal looks at the weekend theft of nearly 100 lobster crates from the wharf of her family’s waterfront business in Jonesport as “a sign of the times,” given a stagnant Down East economy.
By Tuesday, she had a sign of her own, spending much of the afternoon tacking up notices of a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of anyone involved. She posted seven reward notices in and around Jonesport on Tuesday and plans to post two more in Machias on Wednesday.
Beal estimates that at least 80 and perhaps as many as 100 empty crates were stolen sometime between Saturday afternoon, when they were unloaded onto the wharf, and early Monday morning, when the theft was discovered.
“Replacing these crates will cost about $60 apiece,” she said Tuesday, which translates to a loss-of-equipment cost of $4,800 if 80 crates were pilfered. “Crates aren’t marked, as we all exchange crates all the time, so they couldn’t be identified as ours, I think. At this point it’s more a matter of trying to get them replaced.”
Will the reward help her recover the crates?
“The reward probably won’t help,” she said, “unless someone comes forward and says, ‘I bought a crate, but didn’t realize it was stolen.’ I just wanted to get the word out. Maybe that will slow somebody up from doing it again.”
The theft is being investigated by the Washington County Sheriff’s Department.
“With this economy, I can see someone who is trying to just get by, steal crates that cost $60 new and sell them for $10 apiece, which would provide them with some cash. I think, with this economy, we’ll see more and more of this kind of thing.”
Beal said she’s the second generation to operate the business, which was founded by her father, Bennie Beal, in the 1970s. He’s now officially retired but at age 80 still goes out to sea, harvesting everything from quahog clams to lobster.
Beal asks that anyone with information about the theft call her at 497-2666.