Tips to Prevent your Boat from Getting Stolen
A valuable, desirable boat is a temptation for thieves to target.
A boat catching the attention of crooks is a surprise to no one. The majority of reported stolen boats are 29-foot or under recreational crafts with outboard motors that were kept on trailers. Countless boats in the U.S. fall within that category (yours probably included). The inherent value of boats and their outboards make for obvious targets, especially those conveniently seated on a trailer.
Preventing Theft of a Boat on a Trailer
Having your boat stored on your property doesn't make it any safer from crooks.
Boat thefts are largely reported as being taken right from their owners' properties. Experienced thieves can instantly snatch a trailered boat from your property. Good luck trying to stop determined criminals from taking it!
What you can do is make your boat harder to steal, enough so that burglars decide your watercraft is more trouble than it's worth and move along.
Deterring Trailered Boat Theft
Make the trailer as difficult as possible to maneuver out of your property. If it's parked on your driveway, position it as close as you can to the garage door with the hitch facing toward it.
If the trailer is parked in your yard, keep it as far away from the road as possible with the hitch facing a wall, fence or other solid obstacle, and chain the trailer to a tree or cement post.
Use Multiple Locks
When it comes to security, the more locks, the better. Lock both the trailer hitch and trailer jack to prevent tampering.
Remove the Tongue Hitch
Taking off the tongue hitch adds another obstacle to the would-be thief. However, it's not uncommon for boat burglars to carry various tongue hitches with them, so don't assume this one deterrent alone will protect your boat.
Take a Wheel or Tire Off
If your boat is going to be parked for a while, remove a tire or wheel from the trailer. Removing a wheel is relatively easy, but a thief could install a replacement wheel just as easily. Instead, remove a trailer tire from an attached wheel to present a bigger challenge to would-be crooks.
Put Up Some Fencing
Install wooden fencing around your yard to shield your boat from prying eyes. If they don't see it, they won't steal it!
Any kind of fencing adds yet another obstacle for thieves to overcome.
Install Security Lights
Motion-sensor security lights are effective theft deterrents. Position the lights to activate near the boat, where a prowler could easily be spotted snooping around.
Install an Alarm System
Alarms aren't just for homes and cars. Get one for your boat too! Make sure the alarm system is marine-grade, so it'll work even after being subjected to harsh marine conditions.
Your boat is less likely to become a target when it doesn't stand out. A boat cover protects your boat from the elements, as well as from the prying eyes of curious crooks.
Get a Wheel Clamp
If you don't want the hassle of removing wheels or tires, consider a wheel clamp like the ones used by authorities to immobilize illegally parked vehicles. A wheel clamp prevents the wheel from being removed and ensures your trailer isn't going anywhere.
Preventing Boat Gear From Being Stolen
Now that you've protected your boat, what about the outboard and the equipment inside it?
Your boat's outboard motor, equipment and gear is not only valuable, but it's much easier to steal and sell than your entire boat!
Some outboards are worth more than the actual boat! Take similar measures to protect your outboard as you would with your trailer and boat. Remove the outboard and store it in a secured location away from the boat. If you leave your outboard attached, make sure to lock it up tight!
Lock the Propeller
Don't want to remove the outboard at all? Get a propeller lock! Propellers are valuable and easy to remove, so a prop lock adds an additional layer of security.
Remove Equipment and Gear
Any equipment that isn't built into your boat is another prime target for burglars. Remove as much gear and electronic equipment from your boat as possible and store it in a secure place away from the boat. If you must keep equipment or gear on your boat, store it in locked compartments.
Don't Forget Your Keys
Common sense, but never leave any keys to any part of your boat on or near it! No matter how good you think your hiding place is, crafty crooks will find your keys. Keep all keys in your pockets or safely hidden in your home.
Preventing a Boat at a Marina From Being Stolen
A boat stored at a marina isn't necessarily safer than one stored at home. Countless people with access to the marina have access to your boat.
Take the same security precautions at the marina that you would at home. Immobilize the trailer; remove the outboard and as much equipment and gear as possible; and cover up your boat. In addition, you should also do the following:
Choose a Secure Marina
Use a well-lit, gated marina only accessible by a keypad, as well as one with surveillance cameras guarded by security staff. Find out too whether the marina accepts any responsibility for theft from its property, or whether storage is at the owner's risk.
Buy Anti-Theft Technology
Find anti-theft technologies such as devices that send notifications, images and/or video to your cellphone if they detect movement from or within the boat or if it's being tampered with. Consider adding an automatic kill switch that can remotely kill the outboard if it detects your boat is being taken. Also add a GPS tracking system to pinpoint the location of your boat at any given time.
Documenting Your Boat
Keeping extensive records for your boat won't prevent it from being stolen, but it helps prove the boat, the outboard and its equipment is rightfully yours.
Keep files containing all the documents associated with the purchase and ownership of your boat, including sales receipts, registration documents, state decals, etc. Note your boat's hull identification number, the outboard's serial number, and the serial numbers of any electronic equipment you've installed. Photograph your boat from all angles, paying attention to any features that distinguish it from other similar boats. Also take pictures of the equipment, the gear and the trailer.
Insuring Your Boat
Insurance doesn't prevent boat theft either, but may help you replace stolen property. An insurance provider will have a vested interest in recovering your boat. Insurance companies don't want to pay out costly insurance claims, and will likely do what they can to help you get it back.
Get Reliable Insurance
Not all marine insurance policies cover theft, so make sure you get one that does. Find out what, if any, equipment and personal possessions the insurance policy covers. Sometimes the policy allows you to insure itemized things or provide blanket coverage up to a predetermined value. Know what an insurance policy does and doesn't cover before acquiring it.
Reporting a Theft
If your boat or anything from it is stolen, immediately report it to the police, your insurance provider, and the marina if you use one. Alert other boat owners of the theft and ask them to be on the lookout for your boat or any equipment stolen from it. Often times people being offered suspect goods will tip off authorities, which could help recover stolen property.
Protect Your Investment
A determined enough criminal will find ways to steal your boat and/or its equipment. We hope these tips help protect your investment, and don't leave anything to chance or cut any corners when it comes to your prized possession's security!