Two Walterboro men busted after botched boat theft

Scott Bunton
Scott Bunton

JASPER CO., SC (WTOC) - Authorities say two men stole trucks, boats, and trailers from a Jasper County business. But when they took one of the boats out for a spin, they ended up inadvertently alerting authorities.

The water on the Whale Branch may be calm, but Scott Bunton, the owner of Steadfast Marine, says that wasn't the case on Sunday.

"Coast Guard called the house and indicated my beacon was signaling, and I tried to explain to them that the boat was in storage and couldn't be," said Bunton.

He said when he arrived at his business to check it out, he couldn't believe what he saw.

"When I pulled up, I said, 'My boat is gone, someone has stolen my boat,'" said Bunton. "They stole two trucks, one tool trailer, three material trailers and my boat and trailer; but they left me their truck."

Authorities said that when Kenneth Beach III and Ashley Mudaugh launched the 33-foot Palmetto Custom Boat into the water at Bolen Hall Boat Landing, they triggered an emergency radio beacon on board that alerted the Coast Guard.

"I kept getting phone calls from friends in their boats, they're listening to the radio as the Coast Guard tries to stop my boat and they're like, 'What in the world is this Bozo doing?'" said Bunton.

After the Coast Guard and Georgia Dept. of Natural Resources tracked down the two men down, they beached the boat at Grays Hill Boat Landing and ran into a nearby wooded area. After a long search, authorities found them.

Liza Jane III was recovered on Monday. Although the boat still looks pretty good from the outside, Bunton said there's quite a bit missing from the inside.

"Cushions, speakers, amplifiers, all kinds of personal effects are missing - rods and reels are gone - that's a big hit," said Bunton.

But Bunton said it all could have been much worse.

"Had they not thrown the epurb, it would have been a day before we found out and they probably would have been long gone and we wouldn't have known anything. Fortunately, they were intelligent enough to put the epurb in the water and alert the Coast Guard," said Bunton.

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