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updated: 3/5/2013 10:31 AM

Stolen yacht runs aground on Calif.; 3 arrested

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Associated Press

PACIFICA, Calif. -- Three people were arrested Monday after they stocked a stolen, 82-foot yacht with pizza and beer, and then ran the vessel aground on a Northern California beach, authorities said.

Authorities took two men and a woman off the boat hours after the "Darlin" got stuck in shallow water at Pacifica State Beach, the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office said.

Pacifica police arrested Leslie Gardner, 63, Dario Mira, 54, and Lisa Modawell, 56, on suspicion of grand theft and conspiracy. They were being held in the San Mateo County Jail.

The strange tale began early Monday when beachgoers phoned police to report the sailboat in trouble.

The luxury yacht was trapped on a sandbar in shallow water at low tide and unable to get back out to sea. A few wetsuit-clad surfers had paddled out in the frigid water near the grounded vessel as its hull was battered by 4- to 5-foot waves.

After television news reports of the grounding aired, the boat's owner called police to report it stolen, Sausalito police Sgt. Bill Fraass said.

"We do have thefts of vessels throughout the area, but the theft of a vessel of this size is uncommon," Fraass said.

Authorities made brief contact with the three people on board, but the people refused to disembark at first.

Once officers were alerted that it was a stolen vessel, police surrounded it with guns drawn. After a few hours, the trio agreed to be taken off the yacht, jumping onto personal watercraft and being quickly ferried to shore.

The boat's owner was called out to work with authorities to have it removed from the beach, hopefully before it was ruined by the strong surf.

The Coast Guard said there were no signs of pollution from the boat.

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