SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. -- Two men from Miami have been arrested for stealing a Sarasota man's boat, thanks to a tip from the victim's son.
Benajamin Hostetler says he went back to work Friday evening at a storage facility and got the surprise of a lifetime. "So I'm pulling out, I do a double-take, I see my boat hooked to a white van." Hostetler called 911 and began chasing two men in a white van, at times hitting one hundred miles an hour. "Dispatchers told me not to chase them, I tell them 'I'm gonna', it's my boat, it's very important to me, I'm going to chase them," he said.
According to the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office, he continued to follow the vehicle until deputies caught up with the van driving southbound on I-75 at a high rate of speed, and pulled the suspects over near mile marker 179.
"Cops started popping (appearing) left and right, bam bam bam, a helicopter above, next thing you know they had the suspects and apparently the van was stolen, so I got my boat back and I got somebody's van back as well," he said.
The van was reported stolen out of Miami and the driver, 24-year-old Nivaldo Echevarria, only had a Florida identification card following four convictions for driving with a suspended license.
His passenger was identified as 48-year-old Ricardo Fuentes, who was wanted by the Florida Parole Commission for a parole violation as a habitual offender for armed burglary and robbery.
"I stuck around and talked to the officers, tried to make sure these guys (get prosecuted) for this because it's not acceptable," he said, still angry.
Fuentes is charged with two counts of Grand Theft. Echevarria is charged with three counts of Grand Theft, and one count each of Driving While License Suspended and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. Due to additional evidence found in the van, detectives have contacted other jurisdictions and the investigation is continuing.