How to Keep Your Boat Safe from Theft

Written by | Updated November 15, 2013

If you’re a boat owner, you need to take precautions to keep your boat safe. According to a study of the BoatUS Marine Insurance Claims Files, 10 out of every 1,000 personal watercrafts are stolen and 2 out of every 1,000 runabouts are stolen.

To keep your boat safe, the first thing to remember is that a thief will look for an easy opportunity. Help prevent theft by remembering time, noise, and visibility. The more you can do to increase the time it takes to steal your boat, the better off you’ll be. Every measure you take toward theft prevention should make noise to keep the burglar away and your boat should be visible, making it difficult to steal. Here are some additional tips to help make sure your boat stays safe.

Get an alarm system.

Securing your boat with an alarm system is the number one thing you can do to prevent theft. It isn’t always easy to find the right security provider, so here are a few things to consider to make the task easier.

  • Reliability: Is the system designed to last? Is it designed to work in a water environment? Make sure you ask about the alarm sensibility too – will it be triggered by a bird landing on the deck?
  • Easy to use: If the system isn’t easy to use, chances are you won’t use it properly. Make sure you are comfortable operating the alarm system.
  • Coverage: Ask if the security system protects decks, hatches, and the gunwale. Find out if the alarm is triggered when an intruder first climbs on board or if the alarm waits to alert when someone reaches the cabin.
  • Environmentally protected: Your boat will be out in nature and on the water. Your alarm components need to be coated with sealant to protect against water, rain, sun, and wind.
  • Motion sensor lights: Well-lit boats and storage areas will help deter a thief. One way to ensure there is good lighting is with motion sensor lights. ADT, SimpliSafe, and FrontPoint all offer motion sensors as part of their security packages, as do Protect America and LifeShield, at their highest package levels.

Make sure the boat cannot move easily when it’s parked.

The harder it is to move the boat, the more difficult it is to steal. Approximately ninety percent of stolen boats are taken while on the trailer. If you must leave your boat on a trailer, you can chain the trailer frame to a tree or other sturdy object to keep the trailer from being moved easily, or put a boot on one of the tires. If you store your boat at home, park it on the side or behind the house. You will also want to park so the trailer tongue doesn’t face the street.

If you leave your boat on the water, make sure you don’t leave the keys in the jockey box or anywhere else on the boat. If your boat has a dinghy, store it on the primary boat, if possible. If the dinghy needs to stay in the water, be sure to use a locking cable to secure it to the primary boat.
keep your boat safe from theft

Remove personal property and valuable documents.

If you have personal property on your boat, like electronics, fishing equipment, or boating equipment, either move it out of site or off the boat entirely. If you aren’t using the boat, it’s best to remove the registration, document papers, and the boat title.

Choose a marina wisely.

If you are storing your boat in a marina, be sure to choose one with good lighting and full-time security. The marina employees should be aware of your boat and when you are using it. The sooner a marina employee is aware your boat is missing, the sooner you can be alerted and the better odds you’ll have of getting your property back.

Your boat is meant to be used and enjoyed. Practice some safety tips to keep your boat safe from theft so you can enjoy hours on the open water. Check out the infographic below to see some facts about boat theft and more safety tips.


Written by Hillary Johnston

A proud mother of four, Hillary is passionate about safety education. She holds a degree in Public Health and Disaster Management. Learn more

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