How to Reduce Your Boat Theft Risk

9 Feb 2020

Nationwide, as recreational boating gains popularity, each year more boats, equipment, trailers, electronics and personal possessions are being stolen.

Thieves can steal boats on water or land. Thieves have even swum through canals to scout boats and docks out. Many have used trucks and trailers to steal boats. Once a thief gets their hands on your boat, they can strip it, clone it or take it overseas. Stripping is where they remove your boat’s identifiers, including the boat’s hull identification number (HIN). When thieves clone a boat, they place a lower end model’s (often purchased legitimately) identifiers and place them on the higher end model they stole.

Here are some tips to help you reduce your boat theft risk.

  1. Practice Common Sense

Any preventive measure you can take for your boat to make it less attractive to potential thieves while it’s in storage can help. For example, you can hide the unique graphics of your boat with a full boat cover.

  1. Don’t Put Up a “For Sale” Sign

Placing a “for sale” sign on your boat you have in a public place to find a buyer could put your boat at risk for theft. This is because often a thief will contact the owner of a boat for sale to ask if they can come take a look at the boat. Then, as they’re inspecting the boat, they’re actually scoping out the access and availability for a quick theft.

  1. Power Off your Lift

If you have your boat on a lift, don’t just rely on a switch on the dock to power the lift off; use a breaker inside your home.

  1. Mark It

Engrave or mark your boat, equipment, trailer, electronics and personal belongings permanently with your boat’s HIN or driver’s license number.  You should already have a HIN on your boat’s transom unless it was manufactured before 1972. When marking your boat, with your HIN and/or driver’s license number, mark it where it’s not easily noticeable or accessible. Do the same with your trailer.

Also, don’t keep your registration papers and/or title on your boat as this will just make it simpler for thieves to dispose of your boat if they steal it.

  1. Secure It

Cover and secure your boat as completely as possible. Lock the ignition switch and take additional steps like adding a hidden fuel shut off, installing a hidden “kill switch” or removing motor parts like the coil wire.

  1. Install a GPS Tracking Device

A GPS tracking device will alert you if your boat goes beyond a specific geo-fence area. GPS tracking systems make tracking your boat easier to detect unauthorized use and theft.  It also makes the recovery of your boat much easier.

Basically, any type of measures you can do to make it “inconvenient” for a thief to haul off with your boat will help. Boat theft is a crime of opportunity, so if it’s difficult for a thief to steal your boat, they’ll just move on.

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