Tips for Protecting Outboards from Theft

Along with general boat theft, outboard motor theft is also a major concern for boat owners. After all, sometimes outboard motors are worth more than the actual boat.

Outboard theft prevention tips

Outboard motors are also a lot easier to steal and sell than entire boats. Armed with a few simple tools, crooks have been known to strike boat dealerships, storage yards and even private homes at night to steal outboard engines. And because outboards aren’t registered like boats, they’re harder to track and easier to sell on the black market, making them prime targets for thieves. 

Protecting an outboard from theft, especially when your boat is in storage, comes down to taking some extra security measures to make them harder to steal. Here are some tips to prevent your outboard motor from getting stolen.

Outboard engine theft prevention tips

Use a Secure Boat Yard

Find a boat storage facility that offers 24-hour security patrols and has surveillance cameras. Seek out storage facilities that are well-lit after dark, when thieves are most likely to strike. A boat yard with security dogs to sniff out trespassers is also a plus during off hours. While the cost of storing your boat in a secured facility isn’t cheap, both your boat and its outboard(s) will be much better protected from theft. You might have to pay a little more for an upper-level slot on a storage rack, but it’s worth the extra money, as boats on the ground level are much more vulnerable to outboard motor theft.

Outboard theft prevention boat yard

Store Your Boat Behind a Locked Gate

If you can’t afford a secure storage facility or just don’t want to pay for one, back your boat trailer up against a solid metal fence behind a locked gate. Backing your trailered boat stern-to against a fence or wall leaves little-to-no room for thieves to steal your outboard motor(s). After all, the longer it takes for crooks to steal your motor, the less likely they’ll bother with it. However, don’t back the trailered boat up against a chain-link fence, as these types of fences are easy to break through with bolt cutters. 

Outboard theft prevention tips

Use Home Security Devices

Security cameras and motion lights can deter outboard theft as well as protect your home if that’s where you keep your boat. Post up “Beware of Dog” signs too, even if you don’t actually have any dogs.

Don’t Post Your Absence on Social Media 

If you keep your boat and its motor(s) at home, never announce on social media when you’re away, especially if you’re going on vacation. You could end up tipping off potential thieves about an easy target. 

Hide Your Outboard(s) 

As mentioned before, some outboards are worth more than the actual boat. So while it might be an inconvenience, you should remove the outboard(s) from the boat and store them in a separate, secure location away from the boat. Keep in mind that crooks usually scout the boat they’re attached to first. If the outboards aren’t attached to the boat, a thief strictly targeting motors might lose interest in your boat and move on to an easier target that has the engines attached. Out of sight, out of mind. 

Buy an outboard engine cover

Buy a boat cover

Lock the Propeller(s)

If you don't want to remove outboard motors from your boat, get a propeller lock. Propellers are also valuable and easy to remove, making them low-hanging fruit for robbers. A propeller lock is an added layer of security for an outboard motor, and another inconvenient obstacle for potential thieves to overcome.

Outboard theft prevention tips propellers

Use Multiple Security Devices

If you can't or won’t hide your boat’s outboard motor, use as many anti-theft devices as possible to secure it to the boat and trailer. When keeping your outboard on a trailered boat, protect the engine and the trailer itself with trailer locks, including trailer alarm padlocks, outboard tie-downs, and any other safety chains and locks that may deter a potential thief from having to go through the trouble of breaking through all of the added security. There are also electronic security systems available with motion sensors that alert you when a potential thief may be near your boat, as well as accelerometers that alert you when your boat, trailer or outboard motor are in motion. Once again, most thieves are looking for easy pickings, and the longer it takes them to snatch your outboard, the less likely it is to get stolen. 

Buy trailer locks

Attwood Swivel-Eze outboard tie-down

These are just a handful of tips to help prevent your outboard motor from getting stolen. Read our boat theft prevention tips article for ways to protect your entire boat, including the motor, the trailer and the equipment.




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