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Shake-A-Leg's fleet mysteriously vandalized in the dead of night

John Beauregard's 1937 Chris-Craft powerboat was slashed with a knife Sunday evening.
John Beauregard's 1937 Chris-Craft powerboat was slashed with a knife Sunday evening.

After two years spent rehabbing his 1937 Chris-Craft powerboat, John Beauregard had just applied his twelfth and final coat of gloss to the vessel last Friday. Three days later, he found his boat defaced.

Between Sunday evening and Monday morning, someone had viciously slashed his boat's upholstery with a knife. The freshly varnished mahogany now bore deep scratches.

"It's not normal what he did," says Beauregard. "You could see a lot of anger especially in the pattern."

Beauregard had stored his boat at Shake-A-Leg Miami, a nonprofit offering waterfront activities to children and adults with physical and mental limitations. Beauregard has volunteered at the organization since its founding in 1990.

Beauregard's boat bore the brunt of Sunday evening's vandalism, but several of Shake-A-Leg's inflatable dinghies were also gashed open. On Thursday, employees discovered the tires of the organization's trailer boat had been slashed.

The damages amount to $10,000, according to Katie Oswald, a staff member at Shake-A-Leg.

Harry Horgan, co-founder and president of the organization, says he was shocked to see Beauregard's boat so senselessly defaced. "Why would somebody come by and randomly slice up this piece of art," says Horgan. "This is beyond us."

Horgan says he's seen Shake-A-Leg's fleet targeted before. Batteries, boat fenders, and power cords will be on board one day and have disappeared the next. But this is the first time he's seen the boats targeted when "there's nothing in it for the individual."

Beauregard believes it was an act of rage. He says someone likely stumbled upon his vessel, which he keeps wrapped in a tarp, and became ensnared in the rope.

"He was enraged obviously," says Beauregard. "He took revenge on the boat."

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The upholstery on John Beauregard's powerboat was slashed, along with several of Shake-A-Leg's inflatable dinghies. Harry Horgan

Beauregard had been fine-tuning the vessel for two years with a select group of Shake-A-Leg's campers, many of whom are autistic. After a summer spent rehabbing and glossing the "gorgeous furniture-quality wood," Beauregard says many are qualified enough to get jobs in the boating industry. "They put their heart and souls into it."

He says he hopes to repair most of the damage before the campers see it. "They're not ready for that kind of real world yet," he says. "I'm not ready for it."

Horgan says Shake-A-Leg just finished repairing its fleet, which was destroyed last September after a yacht broke free in the churning waters caused by Hurricane Irma and crashed into its marina in Coconut Grove. Nine sailboats and four power boats were destroyed.

In a cruel twist, Horgan says the boats spared during Irma were the same ones destroyed on Sunday.

"Go figure," he says. "Mother Nature left them alone, but now we get some jerk who decides to come and do the damage."

Shake-A-Leg is offering a reward for any tips and can be reached at 305-858-5550. Those looking to assist with the repairs can donate here.

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