Boat Theft Prevention Tips
Boats catching the attention of crooks is a surprise to no one, as the contents of a boat and the vessel itself are seen as valuable, desirable targets for thieves.
Reported boat theft is commonly associated with 29-foot or under recreational crafts with outboard motors that were kept on trailers. The inherent value of boats and their outboard motors are prime targets for theft, especially those conveniently seated on a trailer. Here are some tips to prevent your boat from getting robbed.
Preventing Trailered Boat Theft
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' homes. Make your boat harder to steal, enough so that burglars decide your prized possession 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. And 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.
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.
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.
Put Up Some Fencing
Install wooden fencing around your yard to shield your boat from prying burglar eyes. If thieves can't see your boat, they won't steal it. Any kind of fencing adds yet another obstacle for burglars to overcome.
Install Security Lights
Motion-sensor security lights are effective theft deterrents. Position the security 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.
Get a Boat Cover
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.
Preventing Boat Gear Theft
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
If you don't want to remove the outboard motor from your boat, at least get a propeller lock. Propellers are valuable and easy to remove, so a prop lock adds an additional layer of security to your boat's outboard engine.
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 far away from the boat. If you must keep equipment or gear on your boat, store it in locked compartments.
Don't Forget the 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 inside your home.
Preventing Boat Theft at a Marina
A boat stored at a marina isn't necessarily more secure 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.
Choose a Secure Marina
Use a well-lit, gated marina only accessible by a code, 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 that send notifications, images and/or video to your phone if movement from or within the boat is detected, 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.
Document 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. Save 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. Take pictures of your boat from all angles, as well as its equipment, gear and trailer.
Insure Your Boat
Insurance doesn't prevent boat theft either, but may help you replace stolen property. Insurance providers will have a vested interest in recovering your boat, since they don't want to pay out costly 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 your stolen property.
A determined criminal will find creative ways to steal your boat and/or its equipment. We hope these tips help protect your investment, and that you don't leave anything to chance or cut any corners when it comes to your prized possession's security.