Thousands of boats and personal watercraft are stolen each year in the U.S., according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau. But, even if your boat remains exactly where you left it, expensive items on board can present an inviting target for thieves as well.
Luckily, protecting your valuables — along with your watercraft — isn’t difficult at all.
In addition to common-sense solutions, new technology has given boat owners useful tools to easily keep an eye on things whether they’re on board or at home. So, dive in to the tips below and start securing your vessel today.
Preventing Watercraft Theft
For starters, when you’re away from a vessel that’s in the water, never leave the key in the ignition or on board. However, most boats are stolen while still on their trailers, according to the Boat Owners Association of the United States.
So, it’s important to keep your trailer secure, too. Park your boat away from the street. If you can’t, at least make sure the hitch isn’t facing the street, and chain the trailer to something sturdy, like a tree. You could even remove one of the tires to make it impossible for a thief to pull the trailer.
If you have a personal watercraft, use heavy cable or log chains and shielded locks to secure them, and remove the kill switch when left unattended.
Once your watercraft and trailer are secure on land, be sure not to leave important papers, such as registration and title, on board. Just be sure they’re on board before you hit the water again.
Securing Your Equipment and Valuables
Law enforcement agencies say that marine theft usually is a crime of opportunity, so start your security efforts by thinking like a thief. What makes your boat an easy target? Here are some tips from police and the Boat Owners Association to make things tough on criminals:
Taking Advantage of Technology
There are many different types of boat security systems on the market today, from simple door sensors that sound a siren to camera setups that allow you to monitor your boat remotely. According to Boating Magazine, many products offer GPS tracking, so authorities can track your boat if it is stolen.
Much like today’s home security offerings, boat owners can customize and combine products to create a system that meets their specific needs. And, if a system or product comes with warning stickers to put on your boat, be sure to use them.
One of the best ways to prevent crime — at home or on the water — is to build relationships with your neighbors on the dock or at the marina. That way, everyone can keep an eye out for things that look unusual and keep each other informed. Once you build trust among your group of neighbors, you can start letting each other know when you’ll be gone for an extended period, exchange contact information, etc.
Finally, don’t unwittingly become part of the problem. If you’re buying a boat, help make sure it’s not stolen by following these steps:
You bought a boat to enjoy time on the water, not to spend time worrying about thieves (or worse, tracking down your stolen gear). So, take a few precautions now to maximize your enjoyment later!
Let the world know what you think, but do so responsibly. Comments are moderated and we will not post personal attacks, obscene language or inappropriate material, comments with links, or comments from people under the age of 18. If you have a question, check out our Comment Submission Guidelines.