The French authorities have noted that 350 thefts of outboard engines were committed in France last year, a 20 percent increase on the 290 reported in 2020.

The culprits are organised groups from Eastern Europe, who transport the motors across Europe, sometimes dismantled, to sell in their own countries.

France’s Central Office for the Fight against Itinerant Delinquency (OCLDI) has said that the chiefs strike at nightfall and usually succeed in by-passing any locks in place, sometimes with a simple screwdriver.

Most of the culprits come from Lithuania, Romania and Moldavia and spend only a few days on French territory before returning home with their spoils. The high cost of new outboards in these countries makes these stolen motors very attractive to buyers, the French police claim.