The reported cases of metal theft around the Bay Area are getting increasingly elaborate, it seems. What started out as opportunistic copper wire theft, ripping off Facebook, BART and even state parks, eventually blossomed in to stealing commemorative plaques, large statues and even church bells. In the latest incident, three thieves werebusted after sailing up Islais Creek in search of a bounty at the Hunters Point Shipyard, which we're pretty sure makes them modern day local pirates.

According to the Examiner, the three salty seadogs (seriously, look at those mugshots) were nabbed in an ambush set up by officers from the Bayview Station along with UCSF police. Thieves have apparently been pulling up boats and stealing tools, wire, pipes and other recyclables of value at the shipyard, and Saturday night's sting operation was the first attempt to ward off the seafaring attacks.

After laying in wait for over seven hours, cops spotted the three suspects docking their boat along a seawall in the shipyard where 58-year-old Alphonso Muhammed and 47-year-old Michael England hopped out and broke in to a nearby building. Their accomplice Nalinle Ignacio kept an eye on their getaway vessel. Once the cops heard the sounds of power tools grinding away, they moved in and found the scalawags attempting to make off with armfuls of "large pipe valves" — not the most glamorous treasure, but these guys take what they can get, we suppose.

Anyhow, the two men made a break for it — one even tossed his bounty in the creek before diving in himself, only to find the cops waiting for him on the getaway boat. Like any good pirate vessel, their boat even had a history of running illegal operations. Authorities said the boat is owned by another man who was previously arrested on felony charges.
The three suspects were all hit with charges of burglary, conspiracy and possession of stolen property. UCSF police were involved because the University's hospital currently under construction in Mission Bay has repeatedly been stripped of metal goods by seafaring thieves. As the Examiner points out, however, they missed a real opportunity by not making off with the multi-million dollar America's Cup catamarans currently housed nearby at Pier 80.

Update: As commenter Malcove Magnesia pointed out, KRON4's Stanley Roberts, owner of one of the best newsman voices ever, is taking credit for the bust. Whether you believe that or not, his "People Behaving Badly" segment is local news gold:

Previously: All metal/copper theft coverage on SFist.