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Woman fights to retrieve stolen boat

Posted at 6:53 PM, Sep 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-23 21:34:13-04

CAPE CORAL, Fla. -- A Cape Coral woman is battling a towing company to retrieve her boat that was stolen and recovered.

Christine Daniel's $60,000 boat was stolen out of her friend's yard in October of last year, "They hooked it up and just drove away with it," she said. "Knocked off the lock and just drove away with it."

The thief sold the boat for $3,500 to a man on Craigslist, who regularly buys boats. However, Daniels believes given the price much lower than market value, the buyer should have known something was fishy. "It's a 60, 65,000 dollar boat. He bought it for $3,500 and didn't know it was stolen?" she questioned.

The buyer had the boat towed to Roman's Towing in Cape Coral for storage. The company then ran the boat's vin number and traced it back to Daniels, billing her almost $5,000 for the towing and storage. The company informed Daniels that if she failed to pay, they would auction off her boat. "My boat is being held hostage and if Cape Coral Police isn't going to start pressing charges on people that are stealing boats, it's going to continue. Nobody's held accountable," said Daniels.

However, Cape Coral Police have already arrested the person who stole the boat. Dana Foster faces a felony charge for stealing the boat initially. 

So what happens now? Fox 4 spoke with an expert, who said a judge has to decide whether the company towed the boat legally. "The towing company has to know that person is authorized to have the car towed. In this particular situation, it was not the owner that requested it, but another individual," said Abizer Ghadiali, criminal defense attorney at Brown, Suarez, Rios, Weinberg P.A. 

The person who authorized the tow was not the owner. Daniels showed Fox 4 the title and registration for the boat in her home. "The tow truck company, if at the time did not do their due diligence to see whether or not this individual was the owner of the boat, or if they kind of knew that the boat was not this guy's boat, I think she would have a claim," said Ghadiali.