Secure your boat, belongings before heading out

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Secure your boat when unattended.

The first boating trip of the season is exciting for a boat lover. The sun is shining, the sky is blue and every inch of the watercraft has been cleaned and detailed. To keep your voyage pleasant, pay attention to security details all year long.

Many boaters don’t think twice about leaving valuable items in a docked watercraft in plain sight while they park their truck. Others leave their trucks in the parking lot with trailers attached but not secured with a lock. Some even leave the watercraft unattended to grab a quick bite to eat at a restaurant, stop at a marina or go sightseeing. The thrill of the season makes it easy to overlook simple precautions to prevent theft. However, there are people who will take notice, and take advantage of the opportunity to make a quick buck.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) reported 6,070 watercraft thefts in 2011. While this number was down 9 percent from 2010, the risk remains, as does the risk of smaller thefts of items from a watercraft.

So what can you do to prevent being a victim?

  • When leaving your boat at a dock, lock the cabin and remove the keys from the ignition. Take them with you, or secure them in a locked compartment.
  • Remove or store expensive and easily detachable equipment and personal items, even if only leaving the boat for a short time.
  • Lock outboard motors to the boat using the highest quality locks available; good locks deter thieves.
  • On larger boats, consider an alarm for the cabin. Adding a sticker to warn that an alarm is present gives added protection against would-be thieves.
  • Whether stored in the water or on land, consider the marina or storage facility’s security features and procedures when choosing where to store your boat long term. Remove all valuable items for safekeeping at home.
  • Use a trailer hitch lock when leaving a boat on its trailer. Avoid cheap locks that can be easily broken. For small boats, park the trailer so it cannot simply be driven away.
  • Keep your hull ID, trailer ID, registration and engine serial numbers in a secure location. In the event your watercraft is stolen, you will need to provide this information to law enforcement. It is also a good idea to put a hidden, discreet marking on the watercraft so it can be easily identified if found. Never leave registration papers or titles in an unattended watercraft.

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