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Sun, sea and a stolen speedboat
25 December 2014
Arend was in possession of a Baja which he had bought in 2006 for € 65,000. A Baja is a fast speed boat of the type that is popular with drug smugglers and is mainly known from the television series Miami Vice.
Five years after the purchase, in September 2011 (fortunately just after the sailing season) was the boat in the harbour by the water police confiscated because he would have been stolen. An agent of the 'vessel crime' team had noticed that the boat's trunk number (comparable to the chassis number of a car) did not exist.
During the procedure, it was established that the Baja had been stolen in March 2006. The current value of the boat amounted to € 122,000 at that time and the insurer had paid an amount of € 133,202 for the boat and the trailer to the owner. After the payment of the damage amount, the owner had transferred ownership of the stolen boat to the insurer. This is customary. That is why the insurer now claimed back the boat from Arend as owner.
According to the Dutch Civil Code, one must always return something that comes from theft, unless you have paid for it and you were 'in good faith'. "In good faith" means that you did not know or suspect that there was a stolen object. For example, because the price was very low or due to other circumstances.
Therefore, he argued that he had paid a reasonable amount for the boat and that he had been in good faith when he bought it. However, the court held that he had not been in good faith. It was here a precious boat of two years old. Arend said that he had paid € 65,000 in cash for it, but could not prove it. Also, according to the court, he should have done better research on the boat because it is common knowledge that boats are regularly stolen and then resold. For example, he could have asked for the original purchase note of the boat and a VAT certificate and possibly a customs declaration. Moreover, such an investigation had been fairly straightforward, but he had not done it anyway and that is to be blamed.
Arend therefore lost the boat. Theoretically, there is of course the possibility to reclaim the purchase price from the seller / the thief, but that is not very promising for various reasons.
mr. H.C. Uittenbogaart