BOAT batteries were stolen from 11 vessels in one night as crooks went boat to boat for the items, worth hundreds of pounds each.

The Shoebury Watermans Association fear the boats on East Beach were targeted specifically by an organised crime group and batteries will now be sold on.

In the early hours of Thursday morning, thieves broke into 11 boats and stole 13 batteries – with each battery as worth about £300.

Doors were smashed to get to the batteries.

The site has previously been targeted by vandals, but the association feel the thieves knew what they were looking for this time.

More than 40 boats are kept at East Beach during the winter, but several were due to go back to sea this weekend.

Chairman of Shoebury Watermans Association, Mike Sharp, said: “It is frustrating, very frustrating.

“The problem we have had in the last couple of years is vandalism, but we have stepped up patrols and worked with the police and that has worked.

“But I don’t think this was vandalism, I would say this was targeted theft.

“We had 13 batteries stolen from 11 boats, but nothing else was taken, this is very much targeted”.

Mr Sharp, of Thorpe Bay, was adamant this was a targeted attack.

He added: “I think they knew what they were looking for, got it, and went again. We do tell members not to leave batteries in the boats. It is a shame, but this is organised crime.

“I imagine they will be targeting farms or something next to get commercial batteries like this.

“We are a club that works hard to keep the cost of boating down and available, but it is incidents like this put the price back up and make you wonder why you do it.”

A spokesman for Essex Police said: “We are appealing for information after seven boats were damaged on Shoebury East Beach between Wednesday, March 27 and Thursday, March 28. The crime reference number to quote is 42/48744/19. Alternatively, you can call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”