Smithers RCMP say what started as a boat theft turned into search and rescue along the Bulkley River Tuesday.
Police were called to the Fort Telkwa Campground shortly after 2 a.m. after someone saw three extremely drunk people take a 14-foot aluminum boat.
The three suspects were last seen in the boat in the middle of the Bulkley River. But when officers arrived, they found the boat empty, anchored in the water 30 feet from shore.
Search and rescue crews have been conducting an intense search of the area, but have so far not located anyone.
Smithers RCMP Detachment Commander Staff Sergeant Rob Mitchell says police need to confirm that the three are safe and that they did not get swept downstream.
Police are asking anyone to come forward and confirm that the three people involved are okay.
RCMP say the accusations of theft can be ironed out later, adding that because the boat has been recovered, it may no longer be an issue.