It was a beautiful autumn Sunday morning. The sun shone, the breeze was cool but not cold, and a man in a hood jumped in a houseboat moored off Nicollet Island and cut the line.
According to the Star Tribune, the boat – a 1970s River Queen big enough to comfortably sleep four -- belonged to Nicollet Island resident Zach Norman, who couldn’t help but notice someone had been messing with the locks on his vessel and breaking the windows for a few weeks.
What the would-be pilot (pirate?) didn’t know – and Norman did – was that the boat's engine was in need of repairs… which meant it wasn’t about to go anywhere fast.
What followed was less of a “chase” and more of an awkward drift for freedom.
Law enforcement were alerted to the boat’s absence at 10:30 a.m., and two hours later, a man out walking his dog saw something a little odd on the waters of the Mississippi.
“It was under the [railroad] bridge, perpendicular to the current, and the anchor was up and it wasn’t moving,” Steve Thompson told the Strib. The man on the boat was apparently trying to make the vessel do an about-face, with little more than a 2-by-4 for leverage, and he “looked very irritated.”
The Minneapolis Police Department requested a boat from the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office over emergency dispatch, saying the man aboard was allegedly “seizing the boat under maritime law,” and it was lazily drifting toward Boom Island.
A photo tweeted by fellow island resident Chris Steller from the scene shows the person trying to shove himself away from the shores of Boom Island with a pole, like an ill-fated gondolier. Other photos show law enforcement heading toward the scene at a walk.
Currently pushing off with a pole from the shores of Boom Island. pic.twitter.com/SfOGEb45xr— Chris Steller (@chris_steller) September 20, 2020
It started nosing its way northward, but before long the authorities caught up to the wayward watercraft. Around 11:30 a.m., they pulled it to shore. The pilot (as it were) tried pushing the boat away from the dock, but officers hit the person with a Taser and took him into custody.
Video tweeted by another bystander includes the suspect saying “Ow” over the ambient crackling sound.
MPD tased them and has them under arrest now. pic.twitter.com/gJHQgQ1ld1— Smile E. Face (@smilyus) September 20, 2020
They hauled him (and a suitcase found aboard) onto shore and arrested him. Photos show the thief wearing what appears to be a hood of some kind, costume pajamas, a fanny pack, and no shoes. Once back on land, he was reportedly cooperative.
Apprehended pic.twitter.com/RymyfxuHm4— Chris Steller (@chris_steller) September 20, 2020
The whole thing was pretty much wrapped up before Hennepin County arrived with the dang boat.
The suspect – who remains unnamed pending charges – was booked at Hennepin County on probably cause of a felony theft, according to police spokesman John Elder.