HEARTLESS thieves have broken into the wreckage of a tragic sailing vessel.
The crooks boarded the Solway Harvester trawler as it sat in a harbour on the Isle of Man, having sunk just off its coast in 2002.
The robbers forced their way onto the once sunken vessel then made off with the trawler’s 12 inch brass steering compass before making their escape.
The compass is 12 inches in diameter, made from brass and bears the model name Sestrel and the makers mark John Lilley and Gillie Ltd.
Local police are now investigating the break in and are appealing to anyone with any information to come forward.
But officers face a difficult task of finding the culprits as officials are unsure as to when the robbery actually took place.
A spokesman for the Department of Transport confirmed police were called in on Monday after evidence of a forced entry was found on Sunday evening.
However, it is now believed the break-in may have occurred earlier in the week.
Director of harbours Captain Michael Brew said: “Evidence of a possible break-in was reported to the police on Monday morning. However, the extent of the break-in isn’t clear, nor is the reason behind it.
“Although we are not directly involved, we will continue to liaise with Isle of Man Constabulary.”
But Constable Graham Best of the Douglas Neighbourhood Policing team on the Isle of Man is confident of finding the thieves.
He has warned that those responsible will be severely punished when they are caught.
He said: “The wreck of the Solway Harvester is still subject to an ongoing inquest and under the care of the coroner.
“Any offences committed on the vessel will be thoroughly investigated and anyone convicted can expect to be severely dealt with by the courts.”
The Solway Harvester made the headlines in January 2000 when it capsized during rough seas.
Its seven member crew, Craig Mills, 29, brother Robin, 33 and cousin David, 18, Martin Milligan, 26, David Lyons, 17, John Murphy, 22, and Wesley Jolly, 17, Were all killed.