How to Prevent Boat and Boat Trailer Theft

After losing my 50k boat in June 2013, and crying my eyes out (while no one was looking) I was determined to find out how I could prevent falling victim to the same scenario with my new Bayliner VR 4.

I discovered that there are in fact a lot of useful devices and tips all around me. I just didn’t care to research them before trouble had already knocked on my door!

This is my way of helping out boat owners who aren’t sure how to secure their boats and boat trailers from theft. I’ve utilized these handy tips myself and I’m sure you’ll find them useful as well.

When storing

1. Boat security devices

Storing a boat in the right way isn’t just necessary for legal and safety reasons; it is an essential step that will protect it from the bad

I have installed motion activated spotlights while storing at home or backyard. The spotlights are automatic, difficult-to-access, and they serve as a light sentry.

Also, various devices provide efficient anti-theft benefits. What I have always found to be useful are the
cell-phone alerts. I do this while storing the boat at home, I always activate the cellphone tracking systems
and electronic kill switches when it’s in the backyard. That will send an immediate signal and make the
tracking of the boat effortless.

But that isn’t just enough…, parking the trailer with its tongue facing the house has even become a better idea,
— that makes it difficult for the bad guys to hook it up.

Besides, keeping the boat separate from the trailer makes it safer, and locking it in the driveway can be so
helpful. Also, parking a heavy vehicle in front is a useful tip to prevent it from being stolen.

2. Lock the Boat and the Trailer

It is essential to keep the boat heavily locked, that adds safety to your boat and brings peace of mind. So,
fastening the chain around the wheels & the tire, or the engine to the vessel can be a useful way of protecting
the boat, it was the first step I considered when I acquired my new vessels. And after that, I keep the keys far
away from the boat.

In addition, a heavy or removable tongue lock has become an unbelievable solution, and separating the tongue
home and separating it from the trailer is the best and easiest way of making the trailer immovable.

And when I don’t use it frequently, or when I am off from sailing, I remove the tires, and sometimes lights, — an
approach that will definitely give the bad guys an awkward moment stealing my boat.

3. Installation of an alarm system!

Even a simple alarm system will scare off an intruder. Setting up and activating an alarm system is one of the most advanced approaches of preventing the thieves from getting away with the boat.

Specialized alarm systems are designed for the marine purpose, and purchasing three of them for my boat has helped significantly. Getting alerted when someone tries to move the boat is helpful — also, it makes the thieves fear and unable to execute their plans.

Another step towards adding safety to the boat is to set up a working GPS tracking device. It can establish a real-time location for your boat.

So, even though thieves didn’t attempt to take away my boat during that period, I still had confidence that I could have tracked them down as I could get the accurate signal and location of the boat hence faster recovery.

Also, introducing an electrical cutoff gadget can be a smarter way of handling thieves of the boat. Fuel or
electrical device is cheap and straightforward to install, and its impact on the security of the boat is excellent.
Otherwise, it is crucial to keep the vessel safe and unique.

4. Marking the boat

This is the first step that every boat owner should do before plunging the boat in water. Giving the
boat a unique mark can be essential for identifying it in case it gets stolen or lost.

Ideally, marking the property is the best tip for preventing it from deliberate acquisition by bad guys. I prefer using my name and other unique information and most importantly, the boat’s hull number (HIN).

Perhaps you’ll prefer to paint it with a microdot. It’s unique, tinny and challenging to identify image or text
attached on the vessel for easy identification. It is simple to locate your boat once it has a serial number
painted somewhere such that it can’t be identified by the thieves.

5. Create an inventory list of the items on the boat.

Keeping track of all the essential items on the boat is an excellent way of keeping the boat safe from theft. I
chose this as a unique approach to protect my boat as I have a record of all the fishing equipment and the
electronics by their names and the items’ serial numbers.

That has prepared me if my boat is stolen, it will speed up the recovery process as I keep the boat’s
registration number as identified by the state besides its certificate number, the serial number of the engine,
assembly and outdrive numbers.

Also, I have all the receipts of transaction, purchase, and acquisition of my boat and its items as that will be easy to go by a process in case of recovery. If you have insurance for these items and can get reimbursed for them, it’s important to have the receipts and other documents.

Keeping the record of all the necessary items can be a simple but essential step of enhancing proper storage,
as thieves can sometimes get access to even the most heavily locked garage. So, taking advanced measures can be
a way of preparation, and it will be a helping hand during the identification process.

Also, I have scrutinized the entire boat and noted the unique parts of my boat, giving me an easy time identifying it even at a glance.

While On The Boat

6. Pocket It

I have avoided leaving the keys in the cockpit locker after I learned that that was one of the biggest mistakes
I did with my first boat. Leaving the keys in the cockpit locker makes the vessel a loose target for thieves,
and on that matter, I have made it a habit not to leave the keys anywhere close to the boat when in storage.

The thieves are getting smarter every day; they will want to ransack the entire vessel, which may lead them
to that hiding place for the key. So, keeping it in the house or somewhere else away from your boat makes it
safer and inaccessible for bad guys.

7. Baring the boat

Is the locker loose, or are the doors becoming easy to permit entry? After realizing that the vessel had no
secure doors, I decided to improvise better designs for my boat. Stainless-steel hasps have proved to be the
best as they are an excellent barrier for entry or even a smart choice of upgrade for cabin doors.

Stainless-steel makes the doors entirely harder to break into. Adding more security to the boat can be a better
way of making your experience better and secure. Keeping your loved vessel safe will give you a
comfortable mind, and you won’t fear the bad guys.

And When it Comes to The Trailer,

8. Chain it properly

Bad guys are often a step ahead, and it seems they are using advanced ways of stealing boats nowadays. Even
locking it in a garage may not be the safest way of keeping your vessel safe.

Some of them are also going as far as carrying attachable coupler gadgets. Chaining the trailer to a stable object such as a tree or a different immovable object  will make their job way more difficult.

9. Park far off road

Unless it’s currently in use, the boat should be separated from the trailer, and that isn’t enough, keep the trailer far
away from the road. But in case that the storage is near the road, then point its hitch away from it.

Thieves always find it tempting to steal boats that are facing the road and are close to the road. Making the theft more of an off-road project will inevitably make it more time consuming and more difficult.

10. Disable and strip the boat

Security experts like yours truly always advise that disabling vehicles is a good idea. And they insist that when not in use, the vessel should have one or more of its tires removed, as it will stop the thief from pulling
the boat without them. Otherwise, leaving it with tires while not using it for sometimes may be a risk as it will become easier to tow.

Also, having a removable tongue or even the hitch assembly can be a considerable measure to securing the boat. Thieves will fail to hook up a boat without a hitch, so, removing it can be a better way of countering theft. Most boat owners prefer taking many kinds of stuff off the boat, as that will make it less helpful to the
bandits. So, the more you strip it, the less the chances of being stolen.

You can also take off the license plates and the lights, as a boat theft prevention, the thief will even fear to risk being stopped by police as it will make them more suspicious. This is a cost-free tactic for improving any boat’s security.

Final Word: How to Prevent Boat Theft

Securing your boat from thieves involves protecting both the trailer and the boat itself. It’s important to have some alert system in place so that you can respond quickly to any theft attempts because time is often the most important factor.

Parking the trailer off-road and close to a wall or another object will make it harder to attach and drive off. Also consider chaining it to some other object with a thick chain and padlock. Finally, get good insurance and have an identification mark that can prove your ownership in case anything happens.

So I hope this helps! If you have some tips and experience of your own, I’d love to hear about them. Be sure to leave them in the comment section below.

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