ALEXANDRIA, VA – Is your boat shorter than 26 feet? Does it have an outboard motor 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 goal is to make your boat a huge hassle to steal. The more locks a thief sees—on the trailer tongue, outboard engine, or used with chain around the trailer wheels—the more likely that 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 dirtbags do for a living.
3. Make the trailer impossible to move. Removable tongue hitches are terrific theft deterrents Better yet, remove the trailer tires if the boat’s going into long-term storage. Without tires, your rig is a 1-ton dead weight. The little things can help, too: Don't park your boat in the driveway with the hitch facing the street. Use removable trailer lights—thieves working the nightshift want to avoid attracting attention, and an unlit trailer can attract plenty.
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, 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.\
The prevention is worth the time and effort. Once a boat is gone, the BoatUS study finds that only one in 10 vessels are ever recovered.
To see a series of boat theft topics including the BoatUS Marine Insurance Theft Study, more on theft prevention, and a look at the newest boat theft-prevention systems, go to BoatUS.com/Boat-Thefts.