NYPD Harbor Officers Nab Man who Stole Former FDNY Fireboat

April 12, 2024
A 22-year-old man was found by NYPD Harbor officers hiding in a sailboat cabin after allegedly freeing a privately owned fireboat from its mooring and floating along the Hudson River.

By Rocco Parascandola

Source New York Daily News

NEW YORK — A 22-year-old homeless man took a stolen former FDNY fireboat for a short-lived joy ride in the Hudson River early Thursday, police said.

Juan Hernandez’s aquatic adventure ended when NYPD Harbor cops found him hiding in the cabin of a sailboat by Pier 51, home to a popular playground near Jane Street in Greenwich Village, at about 2:30 a.m., according to cops.

Hernandez’s nautical antics started a short time earlier when someone called 911 to report the theft of a boat from Pier 66, near W. 27th Street in Chelsea, police said.

The vessel, the John J. Harvey — a privately owned fireboat that once belonged to the FDNY and is named for a department pilot killed in the line of duty — is 130 feet long and weighs 268 tons.

It proved too much for Hernandez to handle, police said.

He freed the boat from its mooring but didn’t start the engine. Instead, he floated south, with the boat getting stuck a few blocks away at a point where the water was about 5 feet deep, police said.

The man jumped into the frigid river — 46 degrees at the time, police said — and climbed into a sailboat docked at Pier 64 near W. 24th Street owned by Hudson River Community Sailing, an academy that teaches at-risk kids how to sail.

Harbor cops hopped aboard and nabbed him a short time later.

The suspect, charged with grand larceny, has no prior arrests.


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