PORTSMOUTH, Va. (AP)- The U.S. Coast Guard is investigating illegal boat charters in Virginia and issuing violations to anyone offering excursions without a license.

In a Friday statement, the Guard warns residents that hiring an unlicensed charter can be dangerous. It says unlicensed outfits may not have adequate emergency gear or proper navigation and communication equipment.

Capt. Kevin Carroll is commander of Sector Hampton Roads. He says consumers should be “putting their trust in properly-credentialed mariners who are capable of transporting them safely.” He warns people to be “vigilant and inquisitive” when hiring a boat for any excursion.

The Guard says unlicensed vessel operators need to be aware that taking members of the public out for hire is illegal and not a legitimate way of supplementing income.

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