Man arrested after historic New York fireboat taken for joyride

Rudolphous, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons The 40-metre fireboat, known as the John J. Harvey. Image courtsey of Rudolphous via Wikimedia Commons.

A man has been arrested in New York after stealing a decommissioned New York City fireboat on the city’s Hudson River, before getting stuck and attempting to steal a sailboat, according to the NYPD.

Authorities report that the 22-year-old jumped into the 40-metre fireboat, known as the John J. Harvey, which was moored at Pier 66 at around 2.30 a.m. on Thursday (11 April 2024). He attempted to commandeer the boat but reportedly ended up getting stuck at Pier 64.

Police say the man then hopped overboard and swam a short distance before climbing into a nearby sailboat attached to a buoy and navigating to Pier 51.

Police responded to a 911 call from a nearby business that had spotted the man behaving erratically on the water. Officers attempted to get the man to come to them but later entered the boat after he refused to cooperate.

The man has now been arrested and charged with two counts of grand larceny.

A spokesperson for the Hudson River Park Trust, which oversees Pier 66, has confirmed to local media the fireboat is secure and being assessed for damage.

The historic vessel, built in 1931, was involved in several dramatic rescues, including helping to put out a fire aboard the El Estero, a munitions ship docked in New York Harbour, during World War II.

The John J. Harvey was retired in 1994, but was used on the morning of 9/11 to help pick up survivors and to pump water onto the site.

In 2022, a man was arrested after a stolen yacht hit multiple vessels docked near the Lido Island Bridge on Newport Bay in Orange County, California. The out-of-control yacht wreaked havoc as onlookers screamed warnings at those still aboard their docked boats.

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