Is your boat less than 26 feet? Does it have outboard motor power and rest on a trailer? If you said yes, beware – you’re a big target for theft. A newly released study that looked at five years of BoatUS Marine Insurance claims files shows that 75 percent of all boats stolen matched this description. With the long winter lay-up period nearing, BoatUS has five tips to make your boat harder to steal.
1. Just one lock? Try another, and another. You simply can’t have enough. The whole goal is to make someone else’s boat more attractive than yours, so the more locks a thief sees – on the trailer tongue, outboard engine, or used with chain around the trailer wheels – the better the chance he’ll move on.
2. Don’t leave the key on a stored boat. Never assume your key’s hiding place is so good that thieves won’t find it. Remember, that’s what these people do for a living.
3. Make the trailer impossible to move. A removable tongue hitch, or, better yet, removing the trailer tires if the boat’s going into long-term storage turns your rig into 1-ton dead weight. The little things can help, too, such as not parking your boat in the driveway with the hitch facing the street. Consider using removable trailer lights – with most thieves working the nightshift, they want to avoid attracting the attention an unlit trailer would cause.
4. Don’t stick out. You may want to think twice about hanging a “for sale” sign on the side of your boat. Use a full winter cover to hide attention-getting, splashy graphics. Store all valuables, removable electronics and paperwork at home during the off-season.
5. Check out new anti-theft technologies. Devices that send alerts to your cell phone, take photos/video, provide tracking, or kill the motor if your boat moves from its virtual boundary can stop a theft in its tracks. Once a boat is gone, the BoatUS study finds that only one in 10 vessels are ever fully recovered.