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On Wednesday morning a dinghy, with life jackets and oars, was discovered by staff at Portside restaurant, on the shore below the popular Oamaru eatery.
Concerned by the find, they contacted Oamaru police and then Waitaki District Council harbourmaster and North Otago Yacht and Power Boat Club commodore Kevin Murdoch.
It was after the latter started to investigate the situation further that the waters became murky.
"I shot down to see what the story was," he said.
"It [the dinghy] had oars and life jackets, and they were worried that someone had fallen out."
He identified the dinghy, which was usually moored on the opposite side of the harbour, and contacted its owner.
However, the owner confirmed the two oars, three life jackets, blanket and length of rope found in the dinghy were not theirs.
While the dinghy's owner initially reported the vessel had been stolen on Tuesday night, Senior Sergeant Jason McCoy, of Oamaru, said police had not had any reports of items being stolen from boats in the harbour area.
Mr Murdoch said he was stumped by the situation and for now, was holding on to the gear found in the dinghy, in the hope of reuniting it with its rightful owner or owners.
"I have all this gear at the yacht club, and I don't know any more than that. We will be contacting all of our members and asking people to check in their boats to see if there is anything missing. We don't know if it's any of their gear, or if it's been stolen out of a boat."