Man lived in boat that wasn't his during crime spree at Olympia marina

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OLYMPIA, Wash. —

A man is suspected of stealing a number of small boats at Olympia's Swantown Marina.

Police believe 26-year-old Nathaniel Burling was selling boat motors on Craigslist and are issuing a warning to people in the South Sound.

"He was breaking into boats and broke into one boat and lived aboard it,” said Jim Mandes, a boat owner who had his gate key to the marina stolen out of his truck.

 Detectives said they believe Burling stole that key and used it to get access to the Swantown marina.

In one case, Burling is suspected of stealing a 12-foot runabout and then taking the motor off the boat and selling it to another man, all while an off duty police officer watched from another vessel nearby.

"We want them to know if they brought a motor from him anytime in the past couple of weeks that the motor is likely stolen,” said Laura Wohl from the Olympia Police Department.

Detectives also believe during his crime spree, Burling may have broken into Greg Hinkle's 26-foot Bayliner, stealing a TV and DVD, damaging the navigation system and actually living onboard the boat, leaving behind a mess including needles used for heroin.

“I'm angry. I think that goes without saying," Hinkle told KIRO 7 Monday afternoon.

Hinkle showed KIRO 7 the inside of his boat. He said believes Burling, and possibly another man, may have been living in the vessel for about a week. 

Hinkle said he's afraid to use the boat until he gets it professionally cleaned.

 "I haven't stripped the cabin down looking for hypodermic needles. Since we found most of them in a pop bottle, I’m hoping they aren't lying around the boat but who knows what down there as far as toxics go,” said Hinkle.