5 simple steps to make your boat theft proof

By acting nonchalant, a thief can make off with your boat with alarming ease. Learn how to make your boat theft proof .... photo by CC user Suedelbien on pixabay

Your mooring of choice may seem idyllic, but here’s a story showing that nowhere is immune to marine crime. Between 27 and 31 May in Brundall, seven outboard engines were stolen from a single marina.

Fast forward a few days to the bank holiday weekend and thieves managed to bag a further six motors from nearby Ranworth.

That’s 13 pieces of expensive kit snatched within the space of a week in the heart of the Norfolk Broads at peak season…

Local constabularies, specialist marine insurance brokers such as Bishop Skinner and most importantly of all, individual boat owners: they each have a vital role to play in the fight against boat crime.

If you’re looking to buy second-hand, it all begins before you even take charge of your new boat or equipment, by checking the joint police and insurance anti-theft register www.stolenboats.org.uk to check it’s not on the ‘missing’ list.

Once the boat is yours, it’s a matter of keeping your guard up and a taking a few smart steps to stay safe. Here’s what should be on your to-do list to make your boat theft proof…

1) Double up on locks

Although there will always be a hard-core element of professional criminals with the wherewithal to get around standard security measures, most crimes involve a strong element of opportunism.

Locks are a case in point. Essentially, if a lock looks like it could be breached with the minimum of effort, allowing a quick in-and-out grab, then this makes the boat a tasty target.

Forget surface mounted barrel locks and easy-to-force padlocks and instead opt for a padlock that hides the shackle from cutters and crow-bars.

Look also at hasp and staples secured by stainless steel, corrosion-resistant nuts and bolts. These should be applied to all hatches and deck locks.

Use wire rope or a combination of chain and locks to secure loose equipment such as anchors and oars.

2) Mark up your equipment

As well as providing a deterrent, engraving, etching or dyeing your postcode onto items of marine equipment also makes it much more likely that stolen items will be returned to you if they are recovered by the police.

Use a permanent visible marker to mark on-board dinghies and inflatables.

3) Get a police badge on your engine cover

The idea is that the very sight of a police badge emblazoned on an engine cover may be enough to persuade a would-be thief to move on.

Several police forces such as Devon and Cornwall and Dorset promote the use of police-branded outboard engine covers. These do exactly the same job as a manufacturer-supplied cowling in shielding the engine from the elements.

4) Invest in an alarm

Basic surveillance tech is getting cheaper all the time. Comprehensive wireless alarm systems suitable for boats can be bought for less than £200.

These tend to be very easy to install and alert you via your mobile in the event that the alarm is activated. Step up your investment and you can get on-board cameras, real-time remote view via 3 or 4G and automatic intruder notifications to a monitoring station.

Use stickers and notices to advertise the fact that you have anti-intruder devices in place.

5) Get friendly…

If you’re a newcomer to a particular marina or mooring, it’s impossible to tell friend from foe unless and until you make an effort to get to know your neighbours.

It’s the norm in many locations for a ‘Boat Watch’ scheme to be in place – but for this to work effectively, you need to be able to spot strangers.

Common sense comes into play too: such as remembering to close the marina gate behind you, keeping your marina access code to yourself and not letting anyone in behind you unless you know who they are.

New to boating? Visit the marine insurance specialists, Bishop Skinner and get tailored insurance advice including hassle-free claims handling in the event of theft.