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Charges: Minneapolis man who stole houseboat claimed 'maritime law'

The 48-year-old took the boat up the Mississippi River before he was tasered by police.
JOHN EARL BENTON STIMPSON

A man accused of stealing a houseboat on the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, citing maritime law, has been charged. 

John Earl Benton Stimpson, 48, of Minneapolis, is charged with two counts of felony theft in connection to the Sept. 20 incident.

According to the criminal complaint, Minneapolis police responded to a report of a theft in progress on 101 Island Ave. W. The person who called police said the man, later identified as Stimpson, had cut the disabled, docked houseboat free and was drifting in the river near the shore, charges say.

The person said this was the third time Stimpson boarded the boat in the past two weeks, noting he'd been told to stay off the boat, the complaint said.

Police previously said Stimpson was wearing a white hood with eye and mouth holes cut out of it, and he was using a long board to move the boat, which didn't have a motor.

Officers yelled to Stimpson that the boat didn't belong to him and told him to come to shore, but Stimpson said under "maritime law" he was taking the boat to salvage, charges say.

The boat continued to drift north up the Mississippi River until it was blown onto shore at the steps of Boom Island. 

Once the boat was onshore, Stimpson was arrested, the complaint said. A taser was used on him, police noted.

The boat is valued at $2,000. 

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