Thieves ‘hotwire’ electric boat but throw it away when batteries run out

A BOAT which was built for theater impresario Cameron Mackintosh was stolen from its moorings in Henley but recovered days later.

The 31ft electric vessel, called Salad Days, was one of a row of boats moored on the River Thames along Thames Side when it was caught between Wednesday and Friday last week.

The owner of the boat was on vacation at the time but contacted Gillian Nahum, of Henley Sales and Charter, who had sold it to them about a year ago, to see if she could help.

Ms Nahum, of St Andrew’s Road, Henley, said: ‘The owner texted me to say Salad Days was gone and if I knew anything.

“The river is a small place so I messaged lock keepers and people I knew to see if anyone had seen anything. A message was also posted on Facebook saying the boat hadn’t been reviewed since Wednesday and to be aware that the name may have been changed.

“But on Sunday a river user found it at Pangbourne against the grasslands. The batteries were dead.

“It must have been joyriders, but we don’t know how they got it started, so they had to plug it in. I don’t think it would have had a full battery and it takes a whole day to get to Pangbourne.

Ivan Gardiner of G Mech Marine, which is based at Hobbs of Henley shipyard in Wargrave Road, recovered the boat.

Ms Nahum said he suffered damage as an on-board oven door was ripped off. A pair of shoes had been forgotten.

She thinks the thieves might have been looking for the batteries because of the lead they contained.

Last month its Lower Basildon shipyard was robbed.

Ms Nahum said: ‘We have these big bins for batteries that go for recycling and these two men, who we caught on CCTV, came in and took as many as they could and put them in their pick-up .

“They actually left new batteries in because I think they would have weighed down their truck too much. They are heavy duty six-volt lead-acid batteries.

Salad Days was commissioned by Mr Mackintosh in 1991 at the London Boat Show and is a Frolic 31 model.

The hull of the boat is surmounted by a varnished mahogany cabin with a convertible saloon interior that can accommodate two people.

Ms Nahum said it was a ‘contemporary classic’ and a modern take on an Edwardian original.

She added: ‘The current owner has had it for just under a year. I sold it to Norfolk and the previous owners had it for quite a long time.

“A boat of this caliber today would cost over £150,000 to build. It’s a great boat for entertaining and was at this year’s Henley Festival.