VFM Alita, a Venezuelan-flagged, 4250 dwt general cargo vessel was motoring its way to the scrapyard. On June 8th, local authorities received reports that the pirates have boarded the vessel to loot the valuables near the Atlantic entrance to the Panama Canal. The two crew members onboard the ship were held for approximately two hours while the thieves searched the vessel for valuables. Panama’s National Air-Naval Service (SENAN) dispatched a coastal patrol boat to investigate the incident. They found five assailants aboard the cargo vessel, which included four adults and one child. The pirates were brought aboard the patrol boat and transferred to the Christopher Columbus SENAN naval base to be processed by authorities. It is to be noted that VFM Alita was on Lay up since last year under the Venezuelan Owner – Feeder Maritime. Piracy and armed robbery incidents has started to see a steep increase in the Panama Canal area this year.