HOUSTON -- An alleged yacht thief who was wanted on both coasts has been found in the Houston area.
His name is Aaron Belter, although police say he uses several alias’ including Salvador Barajas, Dennis Gibson and Steven Onyx Bone.
Investigators say Belter, 43, steals small boats and yachts, and law enforcement agencies on both coasts have been searching for him for years.
“Apparently that investigator in California really wants this guy, kind of a catch me if you can guy,” said boat owner Billie Baker. “He was calling him taunting him saying, ‘I’m out here working and you can’t find me.’”
Baker and Kevin Jenkins own a nearly $2 million vessel that is usually stored in Seabrook.
“The talk on the pier over here behind me was that he was going to repo our boat for whatever reason. You know, it was a scam,” Jenkins told KHOU 11 News.
Belter never did repo the boat, but detectives believe he stole the boat’s $16 thousand control panel.
At Marina Del Sol in Kemah, several employees said they recently met Belter and that he often bragged about how many boats he had.
“He tries to make it seem like he gets them for free and people just give them to him, but nobody just gives him boats that he can turn around and sell for $17 ,000,” said marina employee Billy Briggs.
Detectives said Belter would sometimes rent boats like an expensive 42-foot Catalina, but then never return them.
Officials said he would also con lien holders into getting boats into his name.
“Oh yeah, he had a big bull story,” said boat owner Jack Weir.
But now he is behind bars.
“Good! I told them then he is a con artist,” Weir yelled.
After all those years on the run, a Harris County Sheriff's deputy finally found Belter staying in a Clear Lake area motel. His room was not too far from all the marinas, and people say he had been there for the last two months.
Belter has been charged with theft, but will be headed back to California soon to face charges there.