FWC officers arrested a mate on a commercial fishing boat, after he was reportedly caught stuffing 16 wrung spiny lobsters in his pants in an attempt to steal them off the commercial vessel on which he was just hired to work.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers arrested Gerry Lee Pinson, 27 of Marathon, on misdemeanor petty thief and marine conservation charges.

Pinson was recently hired by Conch Key-based fisherman Capt. Gary Nichols to work as a mate on his commercial fishing boat the Life Force, Nichols said.

Pinson and others had been pulling traps on Tuesday when another crew member alerted Nichols that Pinson may be stealing some of the lobsters. The crew member noticed that Pinson had been putting the lobsters in the pants of his rain slickers, Nichols said.

Nichols called FWC to alert them that Pinson was stealing catch and FWC Lt. Roy Payne and Officer Scott Smith and Capt. Dave Dipre met the vessel at the docks at Nichol’s Seafood fish house on Conch Key.

As officers watched the vessel pull in and secure to the dock, one of the three deckhands quickly exited the vessel and tried to leave the area when both Capt. Dipre and Officer Smith intercepted the mate, later identified as Pinson, and told him he needed to remain with the vessel until the inspection was concluded, according to the FWC arrest report.

Pinson got back on board his vessel and started to help the crew unload lobster traps. Pinson was the only mate and deckhand who was still wearing his slickers at this point and officers observed Pinson holding up his slickers and “walking awkwardly while his leg bottoms of his slickers were bulging,” the arrest report stated.

Capt. Dipre asked Pinson what he had contained inside his slickers. Pinson paused briefly then replied that he had lobster tails on him, the report stated. Lt. Payne then approached Pinson, lifted up his slicker pants legs and untucked his slickers from his boots. Sixteen wrung lobster tails fell out onto the deck of the vessel, the report stated.

Pinson told officers “he was going to take the lobster home to eat,” the report stated. He also told officers that he stuffed the lobster tails down in his pants when Nichols and the other deckhands weren’t looking.

Pinson was arrested on charges of petty theft, possession of 16 wrung lobster tails while upon the waters of the state, and possession of one undersize lobster tail. He was arrested and transported to the Monroe County Jail.

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