Purchasing a boat, utility trailer, or camper can be a substantial investment. It’s important to protect that investment from theft. Check out this article from “Boat US Magazine”..
Foiling Off-Season Theft
So you think your boat is all buttoned up for the winter, tucked safely away in your backyard or driveway?
In Naples, FL, thieves robbed four boats in just five days, stealing electronics, fishing equipment and other items. Even more disturbing, all of the boats were kept right behind the owners’ homes.
Boat owners are a trusting lot and while one would not think of leaving the house with all the doors and windows open, boats are often left wide open and unsecured, equipped with all sorts of small and valuable accessories that can easily end up on eBay.
Boats are also so easily transportable, they’re particularly susceptible to theft. Each year, insurance claims for theft losses cost the industry and consumers millions. While some boat thefts are the work of sophisticated rings that target a specific type of boat, others are isolated crimes of opportunity
by petty thieves taking small, but valuable, equipment.
Not surprisingly, Florida is the number one state for boat theft with 1,478 boats reported stolen in 2005 and 1,233 stolen in 2006, through Sept. 30, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, a non-for-profit organization of insurance companies that compiles reports of stolen boats, cars and
According to NICB, 6,849 boats were stolen nationwide through Sept. 30, and a total of 8,795 boats were stolen in 2005. Most of the top 10 states for stolen boats are year-round boating states such as Florida, Texas, California and other southern states, where there are more boats available to thieves as well as more homes, marinas and storage facilities that thieves can target (see chart).
On a positive note, investigators and prosecutors are taking boat theft seriously and making headway in arresting organized rings of criminals who often move boats across state lines for resale.
In Jacksonville, FL, five suspects face federal charges relating to the theft of expensive, high-performance boats on their trailers. The boats were transported from southern Georgia and part of Florida to the Miami area for resale or even the thieves own personal use. Police recovered 38 expensive boats with a value of $4 million. Federal charges are triggered when stolen goods cross state lines. Among the models stolen were a $130,000 Cigarette boat, a $115,000 Contender, a $170,000 Donzi and a $180,000 Hydra-Sports. The suspects face up to 10 years in prison and hundreds of thousands in fines.
In Georgia, federal prosecutors also busted a ring that was stealing boats in Florida and transporting them to Georgia, including a 2004 27-foot Baja on a trailer.In both cases, task forces of city and county police, FBI agents and the U.S. Coast Guard cooperated in the investigation.
To help stem the tide of boat thefts, marine police in Florida have offered their own set of tips. Not all will apply in every situation or for every boat type, but any obstacle a burglar faces trying to steal your boat or break into it could stave off a painful loss.
On the Boat:
• Engrave all valuables including electronic equipment, outboard engines, radios, loose gear, etc. with the owner’s name, home port, state driver’s license or identification number, and the boat’s hull identification number.
• Install dead bolt locks on all doors and secure ports and windows with inside auxiliary locks.
• Attach inverted, strong hasps and padlocks to all hatches and secure lockers with non-removable hasps and hinges and lock with strong padlocks.
• Remove all portable valuables from your vessel, thereby eliminating possible targets of the thief. Don’t leave radios, binoculars, cameras or laptops on board.
• Maintain an inventory list ashore that includes all boat gear with the name, model, serial number, manufacturer, and description of each item. Digital images or photos of your gear could also go into this file.
• Never leave keys aboard a boat, even in a “hidden place.” Any seasoned burglar knows all the spots to look.
• Don’t leave ownership papers on board the boat.
We hope that this article as helped shed some light on the importance of trailer locks for secure trailer hitch security.