'Disturbing trend': Sheriff sees spike in abandoned boats adrift on rivers

      SALEM, Ore. - Abandoned boats are being set adrift on rivers in Marion County, the sheriff's office said.

      The sheriff calls it a "disturbing trend," since the abanoned boats create a hazard for swimmers and boats - and put a drain on emergency resources.

      "We have to treat these incidents like an emergency," said Sgt. Shane Burnham with the Marion County Marine Patrol. "It could be a boater in distress."

      The sheriff's office said abandoned boats waste both time and taxpayer money.

      Burnham said boat owners looking to dispose of a vessel should contact an auto recycler for assistance.

      He also said that someone caught setting a boat adrift with the intent to abandon it on the waterway could be charged with a crime.