Police tracing thieves who stole a Northamptonshire narrowboat, using DNA on cannabis joints and beer cans

Ali Jeffery back onboard her narrowboat Dawn Treader at Braunston Marina, following its recovery by the police
Ali Jeffery back onboard her narrowboat Dawn Treader at Braunston Marina, following its recovery by the police

A canal boat stolen and later found thanks to police efforts and an appeal on social media is in for repairs at Braunston Marina after thieves caused £2,000 worth of damage.

The fifty-foot narrowboat Dawn Treader was taken on or around August 20 from a temporary mooring on the Grand Union Canal near Lemington Spa.

It was found moored and unattended by police on the Grand Union three days later in Lower Shuckburgh, 10 miles away from where it had been stolen.

Tim Coghlan, managing director of Braunston Marina, said: "This story is fortunately a fairly rare one on the canals, and in near-thirty years of working on the canals, I am unaware of any stolen narrowboat not being eventually recovered, though in one case it took five years.

"But the brilliant work by our local police team and Ali’s use of Facebook brought this one to an amazingly swift conclusion.

"Hopefully with all the information provided to the police and their own investigations, the perpetrators will be caught and brought to justice."

The boat's owner Ali Jefferey, a 40-year-old supply teacher from Leamington Spa, was in the process of moving her boat from its mooring in Warwick to a boat yard near Long Itchington.

She had moved it above Fosse Lock late on August 19, but when she returned at 6.30pm on the evening of Tuesday, August 22 the boat had gone.

Mrs Jefferey informed the police immediately and posted about it on Facebook, which helped to spread the word among the boating community and encouraged people to come forward with information.

A friend of Mrs Jefferey who saw her post on social media told her they had seen Dawn Treader at about 5.30pm on August 21.

A couple on holiday along the Grand Union informed police they had shared the Bascote Flight with Mrs Jefferey's boat and were able to give a detailed description of the people to the authorities.

On the Wednesday morning the police began a search of the canal from Marston Doles towards Napton, during which they received reports of a sighting of the Dawn Treader, said to be tied up at Lower Shuckburgh.

The police found the boat unattended in a relatively remote place with several empty beer cans and cannabis cigarette ends left behind, both on the boat and the towpath. Fingerprint and DNA samples were taken from these.

The boat had been broken into via the bow doors, which were hidden by the cratch cover.

The thieves found the ignition key, having seemingly tried to start the engine with a screwdriver, and departed with other boat keys they found onboard the Dawn Treader.

As a result a tow to Braunston Marina was arranged where work on repairing the doors as well as parts of the hull and paintwork - which were damaged by rough driving through locks - is being undertaken. Together with other damage, the total cost of the repairs is estimated at £2,000.