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February 29, 2016

Grand Theft Lobster: Jeffery's Ledge

Photo Courtesy / U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Photo Courtesy / U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

A private, nonprofit organization is offering an $11,000 reward for any information about a large-scale lobster theft case near Jeffery's Ledge in the Gulf of Maine.

Maine Operation Game Thief is offering the reward following an investigation by the Maine Marine Patrol that found 200 lobster traps were hauled by someone other than their respective license holders, subsequently raided of their catch and then lowered to the ocean floor, according to a statement from Maine Department of Marine Resources spokesman Jeff Nichols.

According to the Associated Press, Maine Marine Patrol Colonel Jon Cornish said the theft is considered a civil violation and the responsible parties face the possibility of restitution or a fine.

"This is an extremely serious violation involving multiple victims, and we would appreciate any help from the public," said Cornish. "The money for this reward comes both from the Operation Game Thief program and from lobstermen committed to bringing this person or people to justice. I'm grateful for the support of [Operation Game Thief] and these lobstermen and their dedication to supporting the work of the Maine Marine Patrol."

"Five or six years ago, this didn't happen," fisherman Andrew Todd, who had 100 traps pillaged, said to the Portland Press Herald. "But we've got a new cast of characters now. I think there is the same percentage of crooks among lobstermen as anything else."

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