Scavengers take $25,700 BMW bikes from storm wreck...legally
Hundreds of people gathered to stake a legal claim for goods worth millions of pounds as they spilled ashore from the MSC Napoli.
The treasure trove included scores of powerful motorcycles, alcohol, shampoo, perfume and even a tractor including the $25,700 BMW K1200LT and the BMW FT800, worth $12,800.
Others swooped on barrels of wine which landed on coastline near Sidmouth where the ship was deliberately beached after it was damaged during a storm on Thursday. Even overturned cars have been spotted on the shore.
Beat officer Pc Steve Speariett said: "Around 15 BMW motorbikes were carried off the beach last night."
Police tried to stop looters from reaching the flotsam but had to draft in extra officers after a crowd of several hundred-strong got through the cordon.
Gareth Topping, 32, a builder from Sidmouth who found a R1200RT BMW motorbike worth $18,000 on the road, said: "I saw about 30 BMW bikes all boxed up in pretty good nick. Police gave us the go-ahead and we just started to search through things. There must be about 300 people down there."
Police were handing out forms at the scene which salvagers then need to fill in with details of any property taken to avoid breaking the law.
The forms are sent to the Receiver Of Wreck, who will decide ownership.
According to the Merchant Shipping Act 1995, it is only an offence for people to remove items from a wreck if they conceal them.
Despite the bonanza there are fears oil from the ship could cause an ecological disaster.