Thieves get in deep when trying to sell stolen scuba gear

There’s dumb — and there’s what happened Sunday afternoon.

“If stupidity was a crime, this guy would get the death penalty,” Adventure Sports general manager Mark German said Tuesday.

A man who was in town from Idaho on business, and was taking scuba instructor classes at Adventure Sports, loaded his gear onto his trailer at the Hampton Inn in east Wichita on Saturday night in anticipation of hitting the road on Sunday.

When he woke up Sunday morning, he discovered thieves had cut through the tie-down straps, netting and a tarp to get to his belongings on the trailer.

“They took quite a bit of stuff” including a Civil War revolver and scuba gear, German said.

The victim called German and told him what happened, saying he would be late for Sunday’s class because he needed to file a police report.

While the victim was in a classroom at Adventure Sports taking a test later that day, German got a phone call from a man asking whether the store buys used scuba gear.

“I don’t typically buy used scuba stuff,” German said.

But he wondered whether the caller had the victim’s stolen gear, so he said he was interested. Based on how the caller was describing the gear, “He didn’t know what he had.”

People who use scuba gear know the terms for each piece of equipment — and this guy had no clue.

“He gave me his name and said he’d come by in about 45 minutes,” German said.

German called police and told them what was happening. Police officers came and parked around the corner out of sight.

They waited.

And waited.

Finally, after about an hour and a half, the caller walked in with an accomplice. One of German’s instructors went in a back room and called one of the officers waiting around the corner.

“They no more than got the stuff in there and started telling me some lame excuse about where this stuff came from” when the officers walked into the store and arrested them, German said.

German said the stolen scuba gear was worth an estimated $10,000. Officers photographed and inventoried the stolen property and returned it to the owner.

The gear was still in the tubs the victim kept them in. The suspects, men ages 36 and 29, tried to sell it less than a mile from where it was stolen — at the store where the victim was in a classroom next door.

“It just floors me that they’re that dumb,” German said.

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