British Scavenge Booty from Stricken Vessel
I found this link on boingboing.net.
Ignoring health warnings and threats of prosecution, hundreds of people foraged among containers washed from a stricken cargo vessel on the southern English coast on Monday, hauling off booty that included BMW motorcycles, shoes, diapers, beauty cream and carpets.
The scavengers descended on beaches at Branscombe after rescue tugs towed the 62,000-ton cargo vessel, the Napoli, to a sandbar just offshore to prevent it from breaking up at sea and spilling thousands of tons of oil and cargo. The cargo includes hazardous chemicals.
Television footage showed people inside shipping containers or carrying away items such as gearboxes, steering wheels and Bibles. Local people were seen using gurneys to carry away their haul. The police said 15 new BMW motorcycles were taken away, one of them by people using a small tractor as they raced against the tides to grab what they could.
The informal salvage recalled long-past days when the southern coast was a haunt of smugglers bringing ashore contraband, usually at night. But the authorities took a stern view, warning that people taking away goods from containers washed up on the shore were committing a criminal offense. “It’s not finders, keepers,” said Jim Nye, a senior police officer.