French Polynesia, Tuamotu, Kauehi: Daylight Robbery – April 2018

Published 5 years ago, updated 4 years ago

April 1st, 2018

Our catamaran “Gone With The Wind” was anchored just behind the mooring field off the village of Tearavero on the atoll of Kauehi in the Tuamotu.  We were 0.4 of a mile from the shore. We had been anchored in the same place since Wednesday, March 28th. Two other boats had come and gone during that time but for the two days leading up to the robbery, we were the only boat in the village anchorage.

On Saturday when returning from town we noticed three young men looking for fish around the mooring balls near our boat. They were towing a floating basket for fish behind them. We had seen the same further inshore a few days earlier. We thought nothing of it.

Easter Sunday morning April 1st we decided to go to 8 am church service.

The service started promptly at 8 am and finished at 9 am.  Our dinghy was on the sand next to the town dock.

The boat hatches were locked down in case of rain except for the head hatch which was slightly cracked. The cockpit door was closed but not locked with the key.

On our return to the boat, I went to our cabin to change from our church clothes and noticed water on the floor.  I tasted it and it was salt water. I looked back up the stairs to the saloon and there was NO trail of water. I looked toward the head and there were small droplets.

I asked my husband had he been downstairs and he said no, but I figured he had walked down without washing his feet. At that time it did not register that something bad had happened.

We sailed down to the southeast end of the atoll, it was now close to 3 pm.  While preparing to go snorkeling my husband went to retrieve his spear gun. It was in the cockpit before we went to church. Now it was missing.

I was in our cabin taking off my gold necklace and earrings and went to put them with my other jewelry which I kept in a safe place. The jewelry pouch was gone.

The penny dropped. Saltwater on the floor, missing spear gun and now my jewelry.

We had been robbed.!

All my wedding rings, gold necklaces, earrings and bracelets, as well as non-precious pieces, a collection of over 35 years …gone.

It was too late to travel the ten miles back to the village as the light was getting too dull to see the many coral heads along the route, so the next morning we lifted anchor and returned to the village.

We notified the grocery store owner who spoke English who sent us to the Mayor. He, in turn, called the village policeman who took our statement and copied photos of some of the missing jewelry.  He also sent the report through to the Gendarmes in Tahiti.

Within a few hours, the speargun was returned after another villager saw a man emerging from the water with it. Apparently, no one in  Kauehi owns one.

He was questioned and said he “found” it on the seafloor in 15 meters of water about a half mile from where we were anchored. Our spear gun does not float, so it is very suspicious as to how he “found” it where he says he did.

The following morning, Tuesday, we were asked to return to the police office and the same man was being interviewed again by the mayor and the police re the break-in and theft of the jewelry. He kept his head down and did not acknowledge at us as he left the office.

We were asked to remain in the anchorage until the following Thursday while investigations continued. Their “investigations “ amounted to hoping that someone would come forward and spill the beans.

That never happened.

We asked why the police couldn’t search the suspect’s home and were told that this was not America and they prefer to “wait and see” if anything surfaces.

By now I was sure that my jewelry would have been shipped off the island to a pawn shop in Tahiti or melted down for the gold and diamonds.

We left Kauehi broken-hearted and disillusioned about this so-called wonderful island and its people.

We have spent the last 12 years circumnavigating and have never had anyone board our boat and relieve us of things close to our hearts.

Cruisers need to be aware that there are brazen individuals in this village who are prepared to board your vessel in broad daylight and steal from you.

Our advice is that if you choose to stop at Kauehi’s village anchorage be very, very vigilant.

Remember, there are plenty of other beautiful atolls in the Tuamotus to visit.

Annie & Liam 

S/V Gone With The Wind 

Sydney Australia

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  1. February 4, 2019 at 8:25 AM
    Data Entry5 says:

    Why don’t you have some discreet cameras inside your Yacht? They can be in the form of a clock etc. They are motion activated and save to a small SD card. This way you will have all the evidence you need in the event this awful event happens again.

    These type of cameras cost pennies. 10 pounds or less in most instances but would really help you get your thief nicked and hopefully your property back. You can also get alarms that are activated if you cross its path and they set off a loud shrill alarm same again cost buttons in the bigger picture of things.

    I read time and time again people losing their valuable property but never seem to take proactive measures to protect it. Unfortunately its just the way of the world now. Sorry to hear of your loss by the way. I have had the same at my home however I take adequate steps now.

  2. February 4, 2019 at 8:25 AM
    Data Entry5 says:

    Annie and Liam. so sorry to hear that news. I also lost some precious stuff in a home invasion years ago and can certainly relate. Thank you for sharing. A place t avoid. Sad for the whole community though.

  3. February 4, 2019 at 8:25 AM
    Data Entry5 says:

    Sorry to hear this news guys. We had a similar experience in Fiji a few years back – we were lucky the police recovered all the stolen items, to loose things that are irreplaceable is such a terrible feeling – we feel for you.

    On a positive note thank you for taking the time to share this it might just help someone else avoid a similar experience and it is a timely reminder for us all.