Sunken treasure: Police say man buried boat in backyard after reporting it stolen

The Oklahoman, By Tim Willert, Sept. 17, 2020

NEWALLA — A Newalla man who lost interest in his boat and reported it stolen, actually buried it in his backyard and collected thousands of dollars in insurance money, according to a search warrant affidavit.

Matt Allen Bookout, 45, is suspected of filing a false crime report, making a fraudulent insurance claim and removing an identification number, police reported. Bookout reported his 2004 Supra Launch 22SSV boat stolen in October 2019. He was paid more than $24,000 from his insurance company after filing the claim and reporting the 21-foot boat was stolen, authorities said.

Oklahoma City police investigators recovered the boat this week after obtaining a search warrant in Cleveland County. The National Insurance Crime Bureau requested police assistance with the investigation in July.

In the police report, Bookout claimed he traveled out of state with his family on Oct. 11, 2019 and returned three days later to find the boat had been stolen, police reported.

"Matt used a backhoe to excavate a large hole directly behind his house and buried the boat," a police investigator wrote in the affidavit. "Matt is waiting for the ground to settle before he pours a slab of concrete and builds a shop building over the buried boat."

Investigators visited Bookout's home earlier this month and spoke with his fiancée, who at first denied knowing where the boat was and then admitted it was buried in the couple's backyard. The fiancée said "Matthew didn't want the boat anymore and moved it to an unknown location," the investigator wrote.

After the boat was reported stolen, Bookout brought it back and buried it after renting a backhoe in Shawnee, police said.

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