WSVN — They are hugely popular here in South Florida. And for owners who live on the water, all they have to do is turn them on and take off. Unfortunately, that's also true for thieves.
Paolo Buonfante: "His friend is going to give him a device to decode the key to start the jet ski."
Paolo Buonfante installed a hidden camera after his first personal watercraft was stolen.
Paolo Buonfante: "He's got something to cut the chain. He's going in the front here."
In less than a month, he captured these crooks stealing his new one.
Paolo Buonfante: "I love going on the jet ski every morning before I go to work, and it's sad."
Fred Karlton has lost three WaveRunners.
Fred Karlton: "I put it on the floating docks over here, and about two weeks later, it was stolen."
After catching thieves in the act of trying to take his fourth, he gave up storing it at his dock.
Fred Karlton: "I've had to take my WaveRunner out of the water and put it on a trailer and keep it inside the confines of the house."
Scott and Jeannie Jontiff also had their personal watercraft stolen. But when the thieves came back to steal the replacement, the crooks didn't get too far. It had a hidden GPS.
Scott Jontiff: "I received a text message from the GPS motion sensor device we had installed."
The Jontiffs started tracking their stolen WaveRunner on their computer.
Scott Jontiff: "The tracking system told us that they came out this waterway, went around the back of the island."
Scott could see exactly where the thieves were, the direction they were heading and at what speed. He called police.
Scott Jontiff: "They found me jumping up and down and screaming, nearly hysterical, telling them, 'You know, there's a crime in progress. We can get these guys.'"
And with the help of the GPS, police caught the suspects red-handed.
Jeannie Jontiff: "I suspect they think that we spotted them and called the police, because I doubt they know that they were being tracked by that device."
Miami Police Commander Delrish Moss says, personal watercraft theft is very common, and catching the crooks is difficult.
Commander Delrish Moss, City of Miami Police Department: "Every minute is critical in these things. In this particular case, it was sort of the perfect storm, everything coming together."
Three South Florida men are now facing felony charges in connection with the Jontiffs' case.
Carmel Cafiero: "The National Insurance Crime Bureau says, personal watercraft and boats are most often stolen here in Florida in the months of June, July and August. So, owners, take note: an investment in a little security can go a long way here in the Sunshine State."
If you know anything about these ongoing personal watercraft thefts, please contact police.
IF YOU HAVE A STORY FOR CARMEL TO INVESTIGATE:Miami-Dade: 305-627-CLUEBroward: 954-921-CLUEE-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org