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Devon beachcombers can keep Napoli booty

No plans for prosecutions over salvaged treasure

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The scavengers who descended on East Devon's Branscombe Beach earlier this year and quickly made off with the cargo of 70,000-ton freighter MSC Napoli can keep their booty, the Receiver of Wreck has confirmed.

The beachcombers helped themselves to £1m worth of car parts after the Napoli ran aground, shedding its treasure-laden containers. Among the prizes on offer were 50 gearboxes, worth more than £100,000, and 39 £12,000 BMW motorbikes which the mob simply wheeled off the beach. Some of the stuff recovered - including a somewhat worse for wear Motorola RAZR - quickly made its way onto eBay.

At the time, the new owners of Napoli's contents were warned they faced possible action unless they filled out the appropriate salvage declaration forms, which rendered their actions legal. Receiver of Wreck Sophia Exelby has "now started writing to the salvors telling them they can keep the BMW parts", the Telegraph reports.

Other salvaged goodies included nappies and cosmetics, and those who availed themselves of these "will have to wait for decisions by each of the different insurers, but are likely to be told they can keep whatever they took off the beach".

A spokesman for the Receiver of Wreck confirmed: "At present, we do not have any plans for prosecutions in relation to Napoli recoveries."

BMW's insurers, meanwhile, have written off the loss "because it would have been difficult to try to collect all the parts and check them for seawater or other damage". The company is, however, planning to try to buy back the motorbikes at £3k a pop since it's concerned they may be unsafe and wants to stick them in the crusher.

The Receiver of Wreck spokesman explained: "BMW have issued a statement to all finders pointing out that these parts are listed as damaged on the BMW parts database and should not be used or sold and that liability for them now rests with the finders." ®

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