Boat’s GPS leads VB police to burglary suspect

Jason Lawrence Wirt. Credit: Virginia Beach Police Department.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — The GPS on a Virginia Beach resident’s boat led to the arrest of a burglary suspect, police say.

Police say the citizen called police around 1:25 a.m. Wednesday after they had been alerted by the GPS that the boat had been removed from its dock slip. They went to the dock and found that the boat, in fact, been taken.

Bay Venture Boat Rentals say the boat was taken from their dock off Laskin Road.

Forty-five-year-old Jason Lawrence Wirt was eventually arrested and is now facing charges for taking the boat.

Terry Browning, with Bay Venture Boat Rentals, says his family has experienced break-ins in the decades they’ve been in the boating business — but nothing like this.

Browning says he was home when he got an alert on his phone. He says his son, who is the owner, called him and told him the GPS showed the boat was headed toward the inlet.

“I jumped in my car and drove out to the inlet to see if I could see the boat and I did,” Browning said.

Browning says the driver of the boat pulled into the marina, where Browning was waiting. He confronted the boat driver.

“He jumped back in the boat and took off, thinking he could get away,” Browning said.

Browning says his son had contacted police and was showing them the path the boat had taken. Virginia Beach police used their aviation and K-9 units to track it down.

Wirt is also charged in a July 9 incident at Americana Roadside Grill. The restaurant is right down the street from Bay Venture.

Police say a man broke into the restaurant in the early morning hours of July 9. Video showed the suspect — now identified as Wirt — walking around inside the restaurant sporting what appeared to be a construction helmet or hat with a light.

He left the restaurant but returned a short time later, wearing different clothes. Employees discovered later that morning that someone had broken into the restaurant and several items had been taken.

This collage of surveillance images provided by Virginia Beach police shows the different outfits worn by a man suspected of breaking into Americana Roadside Grille July 9, 2017. The suspect, Jason Lawrence Wirt, was arrested three days later.

Police say Wirt has been charged with grand larceny and breaking and entering for the theft of the boat. He is charged with breaking and entering, grand larceny and possession of burglary tools in the Americana Roadside Grill incident.

Wirt is being held at Virginia Beach Correctional Center without bond.

Browning is thankful they got the boat back.

“It all worked out. Good for everybody but him. We’re glad to see a bad guy off the street. One less guy to worry about,” he said.