LIVES are being put at risk after an RNLI volunteer was targeted by thieves, compromising his ability to respond to emergency calls.
Jimmy Hoddinott is the deputy second coxswain with the Fowey lifeboat crew, and also runs his own business, Jimmy Marine, in Golant.
A 15hp outboard motor engine was secured to his boat with an insurance approved lock. But on August 20 the criminals struck and took the engine.
"The thieves mangled the lock and left it at the bottom of the boat," Mr Hoddinott said.
"I use the boat for getting to lifeboat shouts and I use it for work. I feel very bitter.
"The Fowey RNLI crew are all volunteers. We're out to save lives and people are pinching our kit."
Jonathan Pritchard, coxswain of Fowey lifeboat, warned of the potential consequences of the theft: "Jim's role on the boat is very important, as are all our crew," he said.
"The theft has put lives at risk. Jimmy is one of my major reliefs. This weekend he did two calls as coxswain, so it is putting the whole crew in jeopardy."
PC Andrew Barnicoat, of St Blazey police station, offered advice to boat owners concerned with the safety of their equipment. He said: "If at all possible remove outboards and any items of value from the boat. Mark engines or secure them with insurance approved locks."
However Mr Hoddinott was quick to point out the difficulty of removing outboard motors from vessels.
"The motor has got to be on the boat – for lifeboat calls, for work. I can't go running down the road with an outboard on my shoulders, and the older generation can't take their outboards off."
Retired Golant resident Roger Tabb agreed. "Police just told us to bring the outboards home, which is impossible.
"CCTV is the best way forward. They could put a camera on top of the Boat Watch hut."
David Jenkinson, chairman of Golant Boat Owners' Association, helps co-ordinate the Boat Watch scheme.
He said of the theft: "It has created anxiety."
Mr Jenkinson also advocated the installation of CCTV. However meetings with the parish council indicated that the people of Golant were not convinced.
He said: "We recognise that a manned patrol service cannot be done 24 hours a day and there is a shortfall in our ability to provide round-the-clock coverage. The harbour office and police are both behind CCTV, although unfortunately the planning process requires for there to be an experience of criminality."
A man has been arrested in connection with the theft of radio equipment from Golant Boat Watch.