REHOBOTH, Del. -- Rehoboth Beach Patrol is working at a disadvantage since more than a third of its lifeguard chairs were stolen.
The station's Captain Kent Buckson says two of the seven chairs reported stolen were spotted by a fishing boat about two miles off the coast of Fenwick Island early Saturday morning.
Buckson says the U.S. Coast Guard confirmed the chairs were seen in the water, a worrisome fact that's troubling the captain.
"I just saw a jetski come flying by and I just thought to myself, 'if that jetski were to hit a chair, that would really be a bad thing,'" said Buckson. "So I have some concerns about people's safety with these things out there. There are seven of them out there."
Out of about 19 chairs, seven may not seem like a large number but the stakes are high if any more chairs have to be taken down.
Buckson says backup chairs replaced the seven stolen ones but now they're out of backup chairs completely.
Lifeguard Zach Abeles and his teammates say they are feeling the loss.
"Without seven that's pretty much an entire section's worth of stands that we're missing for a portion of the day," said Abeles.
"Yes they can be replaced but you know in terms of being able to do our job and serve the people and protect them, it's very difficult to do without our stands, so we certainly are feeling the effects," he said.
Buckson and some of the lifeguards say they don't believe this was a prank gone too far.
"A prank is when somebody laughs, and you know who committed the prank. This act, these people who are hiding, they know who they are," said Buckson.
"Quite frankly there's a huge difference between messing around with one chair and doing something with seven of ours," said Abeles.
"There's different ways to define a joke but in a lot of ways, seven chairs is a little over the top."
With a new incentive the patrol announced Sunday, Buckson is hoping those responsible or know of the crime may have new reasons to come forward to the police.
Buckson says the station is now offering a $500 reward to anyone who has information leading to the culprits or their arrest. The station will also offer anyone $100 per chair if they can be dropped off back at Rehoboth Beach.
Buckson says he's working on getting help from the Coast Guard to retrieve the chairs but is also asking the public to help in anyway they can. The captain warns however that the 500lb chairs should not be handled by boaters working alone.