How to Secure a Boat Trailer from Theft in 5 Easy Steps!
Are you worried that a scummy thief will take your boat trailer and ride if off into the sunset? Or more likely, move it across the country, repaint it and perhaps your boat also, and then sell them for a decent lump of cash?
These are valid concerns because well kept trailers and boats on a 50% discount sell faster than maple syrup pancakes on the fat camp black market.
So how can you prevent your boat trailer from getting stolen? There are many useful security methods and devices you can apply.
Keep in mind though that you can never really secure a trailer 100%, but you can get pretty close if you implement the following strategies.
Best Way to Secure a Boat Trailer from Theft
1. First thing you can do is get a reliable GPS tracker.
Place it under the trailer or any place where you can hide it adequately. If the trailer gets stolen, you can pick up on its location immediately.
2. Second, lock any lockable parts if it can prevent the trailer from being moved away.
A tough hitch lock can be used to fortify the trailer coupler. Only by removing this lock first can the trailer be coupled to a vehicle and driven away. Also lock one or both wheels by using a thick wheel lock. You can also use a thick chain to lock the wheel to another trailer part so that it can’t rotate.
3. Third, you can install security devices to receive alerts and deter thieves from messing with your boat trailer.
Easiest option is to stick a classic alarm somewhere on the trailer. It will produce obnoxious loud noises if it picks up on any excessive vibrations on the trailer’s surface, which would definitely occur if someone tried to steal it.
If the trailer is not located near your home, you can use a cheap baby monitor or a pin style pull cord alarm. These devices will allow you to pick up on any strange noises remotely.
The GPS tracker that I recommend below can also send you alerts on electronic devices such as a mobile phone or computer if the trailer leaves the “security zone”, which you can set up in the control panel map.
You can also use motion sensor floodlights. If anyone comes close to the trailer, the light will automatically activate, destroying their sneaky tactics in the process. This is both a deterrent and a potential alert system, if you or your neighbors notice the figure of a man in a skiing mask being illuminated by the floodlights!
Most of the devices in the alert & deter category are pretty affordable, costing between $10-$30. They’re also easy to install and pretty small. So you can use them together for even better security of your trailer, another vehicle or any location in your home for that matter.
4. Fourthly, make the boat trailer more difficult to steal by removing one or both wheels. Then store them in your vehicle, garage or another location.
Make sure to remove the replacement tire as well if there’s one available, so that the thief can’t use it instead of the removed tire. This fourth tip involves more work than installing a simple security device. But on top of security benefits, it’ also beneficial for keeping the tires in good shape if you’re parking the trailer in one spot for a long time.
5. And my last tip is to park the trailer in a smart way.
If your towing vehicle is secure, reverse your trailer back up against a tree, fence, or wall. Doing this will make it harder for a thief to un-hook the trailer and attach it to a different vehicle. Also, try to park close to your home if possible so that you can hear and see any signs of theft and respond quickly. If you have a home security camera, adjust it to monitor the boat trailer as well.
So those are the 5 best tips in short. Now I’d like to show you the best security devices you can use to apply them, and information on how they work and how to set them up:
Best Boat Trailer Security Devices
1. Reliable GPS tracker
A GPS tracker will not actually secure your trailer in any way. But it’s the best backup measure you can have in case a theft actually happens.
Hide it somewhere in the boat trailer or the boat itself. Most people attach the tracker under the boat trailer where it’s really hard to find and reach especially at nighttime when most of these thefts actually happen.
Using a GPS tracker is really simple. You install an app on your mobile phone or computer, and the app shows a map and the current location of the tracker. If someone is driving your trailer away, the signal will move across the map in real-time so you can always know its current location.
You might think that GPS trackers are expensive, but that’s not the case any longer. A couple years ago the prices for an average tracker could go as high as $300, but now they’re usually around $100.
That’s close to the price of the GPS tracker that I recommend called AmericaLoc Real Time GPS Tracker. A friend of mine actually bought it recently for his new Audi A3 and it’s really impressive.
It has an awesome feature called security zones or geo-fences. You basically use the map on the application to choose the zone around the tracker. If it leaves that zone you receive an alert immediately. This is really useful if you plan on parking your boat trailer in one location for a longer period of time. You can set the alerts to come by the app, email and text messages.
This tracker also has the longest battery life out of all GPS trackers on the market. The battery can last close to a month especially during the first few months according to users. When it’s low, you’ll also receive an alert 2-3 days before, so you can recharge it before it goes out.
This tracker will work in almost any location in the world, so if you plan on using it on a trip to secure your luggage or a different vehicle, you’ll be able to use it across Americas, Europe, Australia and even some remote locations in Asia and Africa.
Having said that, the AmericaLoc GPS tracker is currently available on Amazon. If you check the product page you will see that it has a 5/5 star overall rating with close to 700 customer reviews at the moment! That’s actually really impressive for a small technological gadget that people often find things to complain about.
Keep in mind though that just like all the other GPS trackers, this one also works on a subscription model. One month of service costs $25. But you get 2 extra months for free after purchasing the first month of service. So you basically get the first 3 months for just $25 which is a pretty sweet deal.
It also isn’t waterproof, so you should probably get a waterproof casing for it if you want to place it in an external part of the trailer.
Having said that, one question still remains; are there other GPS trackers that can keep your trailer secure equally well? Probably, but I haven’t had the chance to actually use them or see them in action. On top of that, the highly rated ones that were compared with this one on different tech blogs and forums don’t have nearly the amount of positive reviews from verified customers.
Combined with the fact that it has some great features like long battery life and a very useful security zones setup, I’m confident in recommending it as the first option.
2. Hitch lock / Tongue lock
A hitch lock connects to the trailer coupler from above and under in order to create a secure box. In other words, the trailer cannot be connected to another vehicle and stolen without first removing this lock.
The MegaHitch Lock Coupler Pro from Amazon is my #1 recommendation. It’s made from tough steel material and weighs about 11 lbs. Tthe best part of it security-wise is the adjustable acetate ball. It also has an advanced cam lock mechanism that is placed out of sight on undercarriage.
This is definitely the best hitch lock on the market, and the user reviews confirm this. It’s also on the expensive side. However it’s definitely worth investing in, simply because a hitch lock is a crucial segment of trailer security.
But how can you know that the MegaHitch Lock is any better than the other locks on the market? Aside from overwhelmingly positive customer reviews, there is also some cool video footage available.
While the following video was made by the manufacturer it’s still fairly accurate. It demonstrates how easy (or difficult) it is to crack some other coupler locks on the market when compared to the MegaHitck Lock:
Keep in mind that even this lock can be cracked open by using a good power tool. But it would produce a lot of noise so unless your boat trailer is in a really isolated location, the noise will definitely attract attention.
On the flip side, you don’t want to go with a cheap lock that can be easily and quietly cracked open because it really defeats the entire purpose of getting one. So my suggestion is to either get the Megahitch lock or one that is of somewhat similar quality.
3. Wheel lock
A wheel lock as the name suggests is placed on the wheel in order to lock it into place. All of these are thick and made from steel so that cutting them open would require much time and effort.
The Trimax wheel lock is a very reliable lock, and it costs less than $60 which was quite surprising to me.
When I worked in a camping resort as a security guard, I saw many RV and motorhome users have either this lock or a variation of it.
I think that one of the main reasons for its popularity is that it fits on any wheel. Basically as long as the wheel has a radius of less than 14″ it will fit.
As the manufacturer states, and the user comments suggest, it can be used for securing wheels on different vehicles such as trailers, regular cars, SUV and RVs equally well.
A nice addition that it has is the soft rubber wrapped around the clamp. It protects the wheel or the rim from scratches or damage which can otherwise occur if a steel clamp presses directly on the wheel’s surface. Especially if someone tries to remove the lock forcefully.
The locking and unlocking process is as simple as it can get; first place the lock on the wheel, ensuring that the clamp is well positioned. Then use the designated key to lock it into place or unlock it as needed.
4. Chain & Lock for the Wheel
Aside from using a wheel lock, you can do a little extra by using a thick chain. Pull the chain through different parts of the wheel and then around different parts of the trailer. Unless the thief is able to cut the chain, the wheel won’t be able to rotate. Now, a good power tool can typically cut the chain regardless of its thickness.
So I wouldn’t rely on it as the only trailer securing method. But it would definitely make the thief’s job more difficult, requiring more noise-making and time, which could be enough for someone to notice before it’s too late.
Furthermore, some chains like this case hardened security chain and lock can’t be cut with bolt cutters. That’s actually pretty significant from a security standpoint.
If the thief can’t use a bolt cutter to keep the noise down to a reasonable level, chances are that they won’t risk using a power tool. Unless again, your boat trailer is in a really isolated location and the noise doesn’t make any difference. That particular chain is also coated with special cordura wear pad to protect against scratching the surface it’s meant to protect.
If you don’t have a great chain and padlock already, I suggest getting the previously mentioned one or a similar one that also can’t be cut by hand with bolt cutters. Let’s not forget that this type of a chain can be used for securing other vehicles, including bicycles and motorcycles, but also a portable power generator, a portable home safe, the gates etc.
5. Alarm Systems
I’ve mentioned already that alarm systems are useful for two reasons: alert and deter. In other words, an alarm can alert you of the thieves presence, and the obnoxious noise it creates will probably scare him away for that same reason.
The alert part of the equation can partially be solved with the AmericaLoc GPS Tracker I recommended previously, since it will send you an alert if the trailer leaves the security zone you assign on the map.
However, the tracker will not deter the thief or alert you immediately, before the trailer is already being driven away. So that’s where a classic alarm comes into play.
I’m saying classic alarm on purpose, because that’s what I recommend; a simple alarm that doesn’t require any wiring or complicated setup. An alarm that can run for weeks on a battery or two.
There are two classic alarm options that I recommend for a boat trailer:
The first option is a simple vibration-triggered Doberman Alarm. This alarm can be placed on any surface of your home or vehicle. It costs less than $10 and it runs on 3 small cell batteries.
It has a self-adhesive backside, so installation takes only a few seconds. Just stick it on any surface, turn it on and you’re done! When it picks up on excessive vibrations being dealt to the surface it will go off and produce 110 dB of noise.
However, the main downside of this alarm is that it doesn’t send you remote alerts. So if your boat trailer is in a remote location where the alarm noise can’t reach you or anyone else’s ears, it won’t achieve its purpose.
But if the trailer is parked relatively close to your home or the homes of other people, someone will probably hear it immediately. So consider that before making a purchase.
If you decide to purchase the Doberman Alarm, I suggest getting more than one, and placing them in different locations on the trailer. If one fails to trigger for some reason, the others will. And if the thief finds one and turns it off, there’s a big chance that he won’t look for others. Then the others will still get triggered and do their job.
Or just imagine if all 3-4 start beeping at the same time. There’s no chance he’d get to all of them before they alert the entire neighborhood. This is a pretty small alarm and due to its sticky backside you won’t have a problem hiding it on the trailer.
My second alarm recommendation is a pull cord alarm. It gets triggered when the cord is pulled, not by vibrations and that’s the main difference between it and the Doberman. This alarm is typically used in nursing homes and hospitals. If a patient feels ill, he can pull the alarm and it produces a ton of noise that alerts the staff.
Here’s how it can work for a boat trailer:
- mount the pull cord alarm on the bottom side of the trailer frame where it’s hard to reach and not very visible
- attach the pull cord to something stationary under the trailer
You see where this is going, right? If the boat trailer is moved, the pin pulls out of the box and the alarm goes off! The best pull cord alarm is one that’s the loudest, and that’s the Secure Loud-Mate Pull Cord Alarm which produces 120 dB of noise! That’s pretty, pretty loud. It runs on a battery, and a new battery and screwdriver for inserting it inside come with the package.
6. Baby Monitor
So those are the main 2 alarm system I recommend. They’re very effective and affordable, like I promised! But something is still missing…. how can you receive remote alerts when the alarm goes off? Oh I know, use a baby monitor!
Place the monitoring part in the boat or attach it somewhere on the trailer or nearby. It will allow you to hear anything that’s happening, and you’ll definitely hear if the alarm goes off. Keep the receiver on your nightstand or somewhere close. It’s really that simple. Even if the thief finds the monitor and decides to remove it or smash it, you’ll hear that as well!
But a baby monitor does have its limitations. The main one is the maximum distance. But I know of an excellent long range baby monitor called VTech DM221 (available on Amazon). It has a 160 ft indoor range and 1000 ft outdoor range, and both the monitor AND receiver can run on batteries. It comes with rechargeable batteries that can run for about 18 hours when fully charged. You can also use 2 regular AA batteries instead.
This might be a short running time and become annoying to recharge after a while or too expensive to change batteries frequently. But if you need only a few weeks of protection it could be worth it. To make the batteries last longer, I would personally turn it on only at night, which is also when boat trailer theft typically happens. The VTech baby monitor will send a notification when the rechargeable battery is low.
This is not a security tactic that many people know about, but it’s so affordable and easy to set up. I recommended it previously as an extra security measure for a truck bed while on the road, and this is another example where it can come in handy.
7. Motion Sensor Floodlights
The purpose of a floodlight is to illuminate an area when someone walks into it. For security purposes, you can install a motion sensor floodlight in two ways:
- on the boat trailer – in that case you’ll probably need, wireless battery powered ones like Mr Beams floodlights
- on a nearby wall so that the motion sensor observes the trailer and the surrounding area
A floodlight is often installed above the garage door or front door of a house. If your boat trailer is parked somewhere near, this can be very convenient as you kill two birds with one stone. In that case you can probably use a plug-in floodlight so that you don’t have to use batteries.
I personally think this is the best option, because you can set the floodlight higher up so that it can observe the whole circle around the trailer. Because if you place it only on the trailer instead, inevitably some sides will not be covered properly or you’ll need to install multiple floodlights to cover all sides, which can be more expensive than it has to be. Plus you’d have to change batteries on all of them.
That’s too much work in my opinion! So rather install a plug-in floodlight on your house if you can, and which will serve you well for a longer period of time.
I suggest getting these reliable motion floodlights for multiple reasons:
- 2 heads which you can set perfectly to illuminate a large area
- 30-40 feet motion sensor range
- really bright LED lights (energy efficient)
- weatherproof, can be used in harsh winter conditions, snow and rain
- easy installation – mount it on the wall and follow the wiring step-by-step process from the manual
- affordable price at under $40
I think this is a great option for regular homeowners, especially if you have a valuable vehicle or a boat trailer in your yard.
8. Home Security Camera
Similar to floodlights, you can install an outdoor home security camera to watch over your boat trailer if it’s parked near your house. The camera should have a motion sensor, night vision and WiFI connectivity so that it can send you an alert if the motion sensor gets triggered.
The most popular camera that fits the bill with close to 7000 user reviews on Amazon is the Zmodo Outdoor Security Camera. It has all of these features, it’s weather and pretty affordable. It can also record everything and you get 1 month free Cloud storage service for your recordings as well.
The motion sensor and night vision go hand-in-hand with a 65 ft range. But for the best results the trailer should be fairly close to the camera. This is another great way to keep your eyes and ears on the trailer, especially when you’re not at home since you will receive an alert in case any bad guys show up. Plus, it can protect your home from burglaries in general.
Installation involves: mounting the camera on the wall, adjusting the lens, drilling a small hole for the wire, plugging it into an electric outlet and installing the app so you can receive alerts.
9. Lock the gates
If the area in which you’ve parked has a lockable fence definitely lock it and secure it with a thick chain. This can be a great deterrent on its own, and will make it way harder to steal the trailer. But use a chain that can’t be undone with a bolt cutter, like the Vulcan Brands chain recommended in tip #4.
About Boat Trailer Security
There are MANY ways to secure a boat trailer or any other trailer for that matter. The methods revolve around 3 basic things: locking it in place, using alerts and deterring devices and in the worst case scenario having a GPS tracker to know its current location.
I hope this article has expanded your horizons in this regard. And that it will help you better decide which measures you’re willing to take to protect your boat trailer against the thieves who’ve set their eyes on it or will do so in the future.