Police have executed a search warrant and seized rental boats from The Boatyard near Antioch amid a criminal investigation into the owner who is accused of stealing money from customers.
The Lake County Sheriff’s Office Marine Unit conducted a search warrant on Friday at The Boatyard, located at 42125 North 4th Avenue in unincorporated Antioch.
Lake County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Chief Christopher Covelli told Lake and McHenry County Scanner that the warrant was obtained following prior incidents involving the business and its owner, Kristen Wooden, 36, of Antioch.
A customer in mid-July rented a boat from The Boatyard and was charged $500 prior to arriving at the business.
When the customer asked why there was an additional $500 charge on his credit card, he was informed it was a deposit for damage but the deposit would be lifted after the boat was returned without damage.
Covelli said the customer received no training on how to operate the boat.
The customer informed the business of damage in several areas of the boat before he operated it.
Covelli said staff noted the damage. The man and his family later returned to The Boatyard with the boat.
He and staff inspected the boat and the staff confirmed there was no new damage.
Shortly after he left, the victim was contacted by Wooden, who claimed he damaged the boat, according to Covelli.
The victim assured Wooden he did not damage the boat and did not strike anything with the boat.
The man’s credit card was charged by The Boatyard three times in the amounts of $775, $500 and $275.
The victim called Wooden to explain the fraudulent charges and Wooden said she charged his credit card because of the “damage” she located on the boat, Covelli said.
A similar situation occurred on July 22 when Wooden charged a customer’s credit card for nearly $5,500.
Covelli said the same situation occurred to several other renters who reported they received unauthorized charges on their credit cards from The Boatyard.
During the search warrant Friday, deputies seized electronic storage devices, receipts and other documents.
Marine Unit deputies and Illinois conservation officers inspected The Boatyard’s rental boats.
“Nearly every boat was ordered out of service, due to not being in compliance with rental laws, conservation laws, and Fox Waterway regulations,” Covelli said.
Wooden was informed she could not rent the boats but ignored officers and continued to rent them throughout the holiday weekend, Covelli added.
Marine Unit deputies have since seized six of the boats illegally rented by Wooden.
Covelli said the criminal investigation remains ongoing and criminal charges are likely to be filed.
Anyone who believes they were unlawfully charged by The Boatyard is asked to call the Lake County Sheriff’s Office Marine Unit at 847-377-4000.
In July, Lake and McHenry County Scanner obtained bodycam footage of Wooden being arrested at her business and charged with criminal damage to property.
The video showed Wooden throwing a boat renter’s phone into the water during a dispute over the renters crashing a double-decker pontoon boat.