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 Spring Theft Prevention Series: Boats

 Spring Theft Prevention Series: Boats

Not only does spring bring blooming flowers and warmer weather but also an uptick in property theft. One valuable item that’s often targeted by thieves in the warmer months is boats, which can be worth thousands of dollars or more. The lure of high-value items combined with the ease of transportation on water makes boats an attractive target for thieves. Even worse, theft is on the rise in major U.S. cities around the country. 

So, let's take a closer look at GPS and boat theft and what you can do to batten down the hatches and ensure your boat is protected.

Why Do Boats Get Stolen?

Did you know that the latest figures available from the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB show that more than 4,000 boats were stolen in 2019?

Boats are often stolen and stripped of their valuable parts, leaving only empty hulls that are sometimes burned to make them harder to identify. Thieves typically target removable items in boats, like engines, electronics, anchors, and Bimini tops. The thieves then take to online marketplaces like eBay and Craigslist to sell these parts to unsuspecting buyers.

In some cases, criminals alter paperwork and identification numbers on stolen boats so they can be sold to new owners. This is particularly prevalent in states without strict titling laws, making it easier for thieves to obtain new paperwork.

Some thieves may simply want to take the boat out for a spin without any intention of keeping it. In these cases, the thieves might abandon the boat after use or strip it of any valuable equipment before leaving it behind.

What Kind of Boats Get Stolen?

BoatUS recently spent five years analyzing boat thefts. The analysis found that:

  • 75% of stolen boats measure less than 26 feet
  • Over 25% of thefts are boats under 20 feet
  • Only 10% of thefts are boats 30 feet or longer
  • Sailboats and trawlers are the least stolen boats (3%)
  • 46% of stolen boats are runabouts
  • 28% of stolen boats are cruisers
  • 13% of stolen boats are personal watercraft (PWC)

The prime target for boat thieves is trailered boats parked in driveways or backyards, which obstructs them from public view. Because these boats are already on wheels, criminals just have to hook and go, enabling a fast and easy getaway. 

GPS and Boat Theft: Protect Your Boat

According to the NICB, only about 41% of stolen boats are ever found. BoatUS's study has that figure at only around 10%. Boat GPS trackers could help in this fight against boat thieves.

GPS tracking devices can be a game-changer in preventing boat theft and ensuring your vessel is safely returned to you if it is stolen. A boat GPS tracker can provide real-time updates on your boat’s location, monitor its movements, and alert you if it leaves a designated area.

Choose the Right Boat GPS Tracker

In the event of theft, GPS trackers can help authorities quickly find your boat before further damage is done. Our top LAS GPS and boat trackers include:

Protecting your boat with GPS technology is not only a smart move but also a cost-effective one. The investment in a tracking device for boats is a small price to pay compared to the cost of replacing a stolen boat. Take steps to secure your boat, and you can enjoy peace of mind knowing that your vessel is protected.

*The 54 and Overdrive GPS trackers pair with ShareSpot, a location sharing and tracking system.

Hide jTracker on Boat

To effectively use a GPS tracking device to protect your boat, it’s important to hide the tracker on the boat so thieves can’t easily discover and remove it. To effectively hide a GPS boat tracker:

  1. Choose a small and discreet GPS tracking device that can be easily hidden on your boat. 

  2. Identify a location on your boat where you can hide the tracker. This could be under a seat, behind a panel, or in a storage compartment.

  3. Once you’ve chosen a location, secure the tracker in place using adhesive tape, zip ties, or other secure fasteners. It’s important to make sure it’s secure enough so it won’t come loose during rough water conditions. Note: Placing a boat GPS tracking device below deck could cause impaired signal strength.

  4. Activate the GPS tracking device.

  5. Test the GPS tracking device to ensure that it’s working properly and that you’re able to receive location updates.

More GPS and Boat Theft Protection Ideas

Other ways to protect your boat from being stolen include:

  1. Never leave your boat unattended or unsecured.

  2. Use a sturdy lock or chain to secure your boat to a dock or mooring post when it’s not in use. 

  3. Consider installing an alarm system that can alert you and the authorities in case of unauthorized access to your boat. Sometimes just seeing a sign for an alarm system is enough to deter thieves from stealing your boat.

  4. Install motion sensors to help ward off thieves. Mount one on your boat or trailer.

  5. Keep your boat out of sight by parking it in a garage, behind a fence, or in a storage unit.

  6. Remove valuable items, like electronics, fishing gear, and personal belongings from your boat after each use.

  7. Never leave your boat keys on the boat when you’re not there.

  8. Make sure the boat can’t be moved easily from where it’s parked.

  9. Be vigilant. Report any suspicious activity to authorities.

Shockingly, BoatUS found that only about 15% of boat owners whose boats were stolen said their boat had any kind of lock installed. High-quality locks are well worth the investment because they are a super simple way to protect your boat.

We suggest using strong and sturdy locks to secure your boat’s engine and all doors. If your boat is on a trailer, it’s a good idea to lock and chain the wheels as an extra precaution. By using multiple locks, you can make it more difficult for thieves to gain access to your boat and its components.

Tips for Storing Your Boat on a Trailer

According to BoatUS, approximately 73% of stolen boats are taken while on the trailer. Follow these tips to avoid becoming part of that statistic:

  • Park your trailer on the side or behind your home where you can easily see it but it's not visible from the road. Never park it on the street.

  • Chain the trailer frame to a sturdy object such as a tree or post. This adds an extra layer of security and makes it more difficult for thieves to steal your boat when it's trailered.

  • Use a wheel clamp lock to immobilize one of the wheels.

  • Take off one of the wheels.

  • Hide a GPS tracker on the boat.

Tips for Storing Your Boat on the Water

Storing your boat on the water can also increase the risk of boat theft. Take these steps to reduce your risk:

  • Never leave the keys in the jockey box or anywhere else on the boat.

  • Store the dinghy on the boat if possible.

  • If the dinghy has to stay in the water, use a locking cable to ensure it is secured to the boat.

  • Store it in a well-lit area that’s easily visible from the shore.

  • Check on your boat regularly to ensure it's secure and hasn’t been tampered with.

  • Hide a GPS tracker on the boat.

Tips for Storing Your Boat in a Marina

If you choose to store your boat in a marina, make sure you follow these tips:

  • Choose a marina that has good security measures in place, such as video surveillance, gated access, and security personnel.

  • Remove all valuable items before storing your boat in the marina.

  • Cover your boat.

  • Get to know your marina neighbors and encourage them to watch out for any suspicious activity around your boat. 

  • If you live far away from the marina you store your boat in, see if marina staff can check on it for you or find someone you can pay to check on it.

How LAS Can Help

LAS specializes in GPS tracking technology. Our range of products can help you protect your boat from being stolen and recover it quickly if it is. Our tracking devices allow you to set up customized alerts based on specific criteria, such as if your boat moves outside of a certain area or if it’s been stationary for an extended period of time. We are also proud to offer exceptional customer support and technical assistance to help you get the most out of your LAS GPS tracking devices. Browse our boat GPS tracking solutions or contact to learn more about GPS and boat theft.

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