Recreational boating continues to grow in both popularity and in risk. Boats are on the lakes, in the ocean, and on the rivers, all during the summer.
Deter thieves from stealing your pride and joy.
Largest category of stolen vessels range between 20 and 29 feet, typically on twin-or triple-axle trailers, and usually fitted with outboard motors. Some boats are stolen for the engines, equipment, and electronics. Many are stolen for the purpose of resale, criminal activity, or container export.
Locks, locks, and more locks. Lock the engine to the vessel, lock a chain around the tires and wheels, lock the cabin, and under no circumstances store the keys in the boat.
Obtain a seriously beefy tongue lock, or better yet, have your trailer fitted with a removable tongue or hitch assembly. Then take the tongue off the trailer. Take it home; don’t store it in the boat. Once fitted, the simple precaution of taking the removable tongue hitch off the trailer is by far the easiest way to disable the trailer for moving. If thieves can’t hook it up, they can’t take it.
Removing the tires is even more effective, but a lot more work. If you can easily remove the trailer lights, you make it even harder on the bad guys (some owners have quick-mount lights that hang on the back of the boat and can be stored in the tow vehicle). Thieves like to work under cover of night and don’t like attracting attention to themselves by dragging a trailer down the road without the required lights.
Always lock your hoist or boat-lift control box, or kill the power at the breaker box. Remember, any deterrent is better than none
When storing your vessel at home or in a driveway or backyard, install automatic motion-activated spotlights that will act as a light sentry. Make sure the lights are hard to access from the ground. If disabling them is as easy as unscrewing a bulb, they’re not going to be very effective.
If you keep your boat at home, park your trailer with the tongue facing the house or a tree to make it harder to hook up. Parking the tow vehicle in front of the boat makes it much harder to steal the boat.
There are many antitheft devices now available, ranging from electronic cell-phone alerts and electronic kill switches to active cellphone and satellite tracking systems.
A technology called microdots can be painted on outboard motors, outdrives, and inboard engines as well as on the boat. While microdots may not prevent theft, they can help law enforcement identify your boat or equipment if recovered. Posting the warning sticker that comes with most kits may even be enough to deter theft.
Have a great summer and enjoy boating.