Preventing Marine Theft
The organized theft of small boats, personal watercraft (Jet Skis, Wave Riders, and similar craft), and marine equipment is rising. Regardless of the size of your craft, you are a target. If someone steals your boat or equipment, you're not likely to get it back. But you are not helpless. you can act to prevent theft and safeguard your property.
Don't be an easy target — practice the common sense crime prevention measures outlined in this flyer, and keep in mind three factors that you can influence to discourage theft.
Boats and Equipment
Engrave boats in several places; at least one should be easily visible in case the property is simply lost while several should be hidden from view. Write down the location of the engraved numbers and include the information with your inventory. After marking your goods, put Marine Watch decals on your boat and other property. Your can get decals from the State Marine Board or your county sheriff.
Do not use your social security number to mark goods, as federal law prevents the Social Security Administration from disclosing the name of individuals, even to law enforcement agencies.
PHOTOGRAPH IT: Photographs of your property can help identify your goods and aid in their recovery. They also serve as documentation for your insurance company. Photograph, or video tape, the interior and exterior of your vessel showing all equipment and gear carried on the vessel. Photograph any unique features, equipment, or identifying marks (such as scratches or dents) that can make identification easier. Open drawers and lockers and photograph their interiors and contents. Date and sign the photographs or video tape cassette.
Prepare notes identifying all items in the pictures, and place the notes with the photos or tape. Be sure to keep any photographic negatives or slides so that you can easily have additional prints made should you need them. Do not store the photos and notes on or with the boat where they might be stolen with the items.
Re-photograph the vessel and gear if there are significant changes in the appearance of the items or when new equipment is installed.
RECORD IT: Prepare a written inventory of your boat, trailer, personal watercraft, and all other marine equipment and gear using the form attached to this flyer or a similar format. List all electronic equipment, outboard engines, and other gear. Be sure to record all available information, including the brand name, model and year, and serial number, registration number, and hull identification number. Cross-reference the inventory to your photographic record and store them together in a safe place away from the boat. Give a copy of both documents to your insurance company and ask if the company wants copies of the photos.
STORE IT: The best way to keep thieves from stealing property from your boat is to not leave gear and equipment aboard the vessel. Take gear home, including your television, radio, CB, outboard motor, and other loose equipment. If it is not practical to take gear with you, store it aboard in a cabinet or locker that has a good lock. Chain dinghies or outboard motors to the boat and lock them securely. But remember that bolt cutters easily snip through most chains and padlocks. A secure boat cover can also help, keeping equipment out of sight.
REPORT IT: If your boat, trailer, or gear is missing, report it immediately to:
Use your written and photographic record to provide complete information on all missing property.
If your property is recovered, notify both local law enforcement agencies and the Marine Board. The recovery must be entered into the computer records. Otherwise, you may have trouble selling the property or law enforcement personnel may stop you for "stolen" property.
Boats and Trailers
Boats are seldom built with security in mind. However, you can take steps to reduce your risk of a break-in.
Place heavy duty hinges on all outside hatches and doors, and secure the hatches with heavy duty safety hasps and a high quality padlock.
To ensure that hinges and hasps cannot be pried off, place match plates on the inside of doors and hatches and, if possible, run bolts through the outside hardware and the match plates. Securing forward hatches is particularly important. For safety, hatches should be unlocked while underway.
Window locks and dowels will help secure sliding windows. However, do not rely on dowels as your only means of security. Placing draperies on windows prevents thieves from seeing your property. If you install an alarm system, select one designed for marine use - it must be resistant to water, salt, and humidity, and should have a reset function.
Dock Security & Marine Watch
Thieves often succeed because they look as if they belong in an area. Know your dock neighbors and harbormaster. Work with them to start a Marine Watch program at your marina or berthing area. If you see a stranger in the area, politely offer to help. Your interest will let thieves know that you and your neighbors look out for each other.
If you leave your boat for an length of time, close and lock all hatches and windows. Also close the window drapes. If you don't have drapes, stow things out of sight - preferably in a locked area. Do not leave valuable equipment - such as televisions, radios, radar, fathometers, and cameras - in plain view. And always take your keys with you when you leave.
Buying a Boat
Be careful when buying a boat - it may have been stolen.