US Coast Guard to battle pirates of the Oakland estuary

What began as another enclave of folks seeking a low-cost alternative to high San Francisco Bay area housing prices, has turned the Oakland estuary into a pirate's nest. Rogue live-aboards have been stealing from infrequently visited boats docked in the marina, surrounding businesses, homes, and each other. The situation has become such that the United States Coast Guard has been called in to police the matter.

The Coast Guard will bring sea and air power to the table. The pirates stand little chance. Oakland Mayor Thao says, "There has to be justice." Get ready for something comical or tragic.

Live-aboard communities have difficulty co-existing with municipalities in the SF Bay area. Sausalito has been trying to get rid of them since the 1960s. While they have always been less lawfully dutiful than more shoreward folk, a pirate war across the bay certainly won't help.


Mayor Thao says the estuary crime has only recently popped on her radar.

"There has to be justice," Thao said. "That means policing has to be done differently, investigations must be done differently, along with how resources are deployed."

This is where the U.S. Coast Guard comes in. Cpt. Lam says there are multiple types of vessels that would be used in situations like this – including a 45-foot response boat the Coast Guard would deploy to help local agencies.

"Additionally, we will be looking to use some of our aviation resources to provide, overt presence from the air," said Cpt. Lam. "So we see what is happening along the estuary."

"Throughout your career, have you ever seen it get this bad in the Oakland Estuary?" ABC7's Stephanie Sierra asked.

"Well, I would certainly say that this phenomenon of criminal activity in the maritime domain, it's new to me," said Cpt. Lam. "I think it's going to take a comprehensive inter-agency effort to really effectively address it. And we're committed to doing it."