IN THE EARLY HOURS of Monday 16th May, two Oxford colleges had their coaching launch engines stolen from Godstow. The thieves made away with around £5,000 worth of engines which belonged to St Hugh’s and Trinity.
The theft was discovered by the St Hugh’s and Trinity Men’s First Team upon their arrival at Godstow for training at 6.30am on Monday. Three launches were found drifting by the weir. A member of the Trinity Men’s team and Helen Popescu, St Hugh’s M1 coach, headed out on other launches to recover them, where the engines had been hacked off two of them.
Both of the stolen engines had been locked to the launches. A senior member of Trinity’s team said “It’s just a complete nightmare, having this happen in the week be-
fore Summer VIIIs”. One crew member did recognize one silver lining: “We thought our engine was on its way out anyway”.
Godstow has suffered from similar thefts a number of times before. One source, who would prefer to remain anonymous, said “This is the third or fourth theft they’ve had this year. Another engine was nicked a few weeks ago,” despite the fact the security is “the same as any boat yard, if not better.” He did note, however, that “it borders Port Meadow so is not exactly an inpenetrable compound.” The source added “basically, if the boat clubs had gotten better locks we’d have been fine.”
The thieves used a wooden boat, stolen from the St Edward’s School site, to access the launch moorings. The thieves then stole a launch to reach the other side of the bank so as to be able to lever the outboard motors from the targeted boats, as the ground on the Godstow side of the river would not have been sufficiently solid.
The theft comes at a crucial time for the two colleges with a week to go before the Summer VIIIs campaign. Trinity M1 are currently seventh on the river. St Hugh’s M1 are second in division 3, following a very successful Torpids campaign, earning their M1 crew blades.
The Police are currently searching for information concerning the crime. Connie Primmer, speaking on behalf of Thames Valley Police, confirmed that “between around 10pm on 15 May and 6am on 16 May, outboard motors were stolen from two boats which were moored near St Edwards School Boat Club” and requests that “anyone with information about these incidents is asked to call Thames Valley Police via the 101 number or Crimestoppers via 0800555111.”