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Submarine seized by pirates turns up in Vegas pawnshop

Cops baffled: Underwater buccaneers plague California coast?

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A stolen submarine has been returned to its wealthy Californian owner after it was pawned in Las Vegas, according to reports. Investigating plods are baffled and the seagoing freebooters who originally pirated the sub remain at large.

The submarine, an unidentified personal model suitable for wealthy supervillains wishing to escape from doomed underwater lair complexes or similar roles, was brought in to the Gold and Silver pawnshop in Las Vegas, hundreds of miles from the ocean, by a woman named "Lynette" earlier this year. Lynette said that she had obtained the sub from an unnamed person who had it "sitting in their yard" and had asked her to take it away.

Pawnshop proprietor Rick Harrison paid her only $3,000 for the sub, pointing out that it was plainly in "rough condition" and would need extensive maintenance to render it serviceable. Furthermore he felt that it might have limited market appeal in the Vegas neighbourhood.

"You do know we're in the middle of a desert here, right?" he enquired of Lynette.

"Yeah, but there's lakes and stuff," replied the submersible's vendor.

The story would not normally have come to light, but the Gold and Silver pawnshop is the setting for an American TV show called Pawn Stars, chronicling the curious deals which take place there and the antics of Harrison and his employees and family members. The submarine purchase footage aired as part of episode 19 in the show's fourth season, entitled "Sub for Sale", on 11 April.

Unfortunately for Mr Harrison, the submarine had been pirated five years ago by unknown maritime freebooters. The unnamed true owner – a wealthy individual reportedly resident in Rancho Mirage, California – didn't see the Pawn Stars episode, but his lawyer did.

Retired truck driver Bruce Rogers, recruited due to the fact that his sister works for the submarine's owner, was despatched to Vegas to collect the stolen vessel, returning to California with it this week. Rogers offered a intriguing hint that underwater piracy may be a common problem in Californian waters.

"This isn't the first time I've moved something like this," he told the Victorville Daily Press, before changing the subject and embarking on an anecdote about a steam engine.

The identity of the swashbuckling villains who originally made off with (or in) the submarine remains shrouded in mystery. Las Vegas police, no doubt unaccustomed to handling piracy cases, told the Daily Press that Lynette did not appear to be aware that the sub had been stolen and that it was "unclear if there were any leads in the case". ®

Bootnote

Technically the thieves who stole the submarine from its owner's yacht would only be pirates if the robbery happened on the high seas. It seems likelier that in fact the crime took place in Californian territorial waters, but acknowledging this would be boring and so we haven't.

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