No sign of missing boater days after daughter found dead in Howe Sound 

Police Briefs: Rash of mountain bike thefts in resort

click to enlarge PHOTO BY RICHARD DUNCAN / WWW.RICHPHOTOGRAPHY.CA - Still no clues A hovercraft is seen on Howe Sound Sunday, July 26.
  • Photo by Richard Duncan / www.richphotography.ca
  • Still no clues A hovercraft is seen on Howe Sound Sunday, July 26.

A North Vancouver man is still missing days after the body of his six-year-old daughter and abandoned boat were found drifting in Howe Sound.

The girl's body was discovered near the eastern shore of Gambier Island just before 11:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 25, hours after a man spotted the empty sport boat and notified authorities.

The search continues for the girl's father, identified in media outlets as 60-year-old dentist William Liebenberg. On Monday, a family friend confirmed the dentist's identity in The Vancouver Sun as well as that of his daughter, Maddie.

The search for Liebenberg was called off by the Coast Guard Sunday, and the investigation has since been turned over to the RCMP, which is treating his disappearance as a missing person's case. Friends and family are being interviewed in an effort to piece together the timeline before their disappearance.

The father and daughter reportedly set off from the Lions Bay Marina Saturday, but the 20-foot vessel did not return. It was discovered adrift at approximately 9 p.m. by another boater.

"It had piqued the interest of a fellow boater because he could see the engine was in the water but there was nobody onboard," said Naval Lt. Paul Trenholm at the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Victoria.

"When he had a closer look he could see the keys were in the ignition and, with some personal effects onboard the boat, it lent itself to the idea that maybe someone was missing."

The family reportedly has a cabin on Gambier Island and visited it often over the past several years.

Investigators remain unsure as to why the Liebenbergs exited their boat. Police said foul play is not suspected but haven't ruled anything out.

"We hope maybe your readers can help us with any additional information to put an end to this story," Trenholm said.

Several marine units and aircraft were activated for the search, including two hovercrafts, a helicopter and a DHC-5 Buffalo plane.

Anyone with additional information is asked to contact Sunshine Coast RCMP at (604) 885-2266.

At least 10 reports of stolen mountain bikes in July

Police are urging Whistlerites to take extra care with their mountain bikes after a rash of thefts was reported in July.

Last Tuesday night, July 21, Whistler RCMP got word of a stolen bike from an underground storage area in the Lagoons Townhouse on Northlands Boulevard.

The following day Mounties received a separate report of three mountain bikes lifted from the village — one from behind The Keg and two from the Blackcomb Lodge. The Blackcomb Lodge was the site of at least three other bike thefts over the preceding few weeks, said Whistler RCMP Sgt. Pat Mulhall.

Another three bikes were taken overnight on July 24 from the Hearthstone Lodge in Village Square, police said.

"The Whistler RCMP is working in conjunction with several police departments in order to identify and charge those responsible for recent bike and mail thefts," Mulhall said in a release, referencing a string of mailbox break-ins that has hit the resort this month, as well.

Police are also advising people to record their bike's serial number to make recovery "much easier and effective in terms of charging those responsible," Mulhall said.

"Proactive patrols and the bait-bike program are being used to combat the problem," he added.

Anyone with information on bike thefts and property crime is asked to contact Whistler RCMP at 604-932-3044 or BC Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

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