Boats stored over the winter can be easy targets for thieves. Many boat owners don't find out they have been a victim of theft until long after, often when spring preparations are being made. To help boaters, anglers and sailors deal with this consistent problem, the folks at BoatUS Marine Insurance have these tips for storing your boat this winter.
The top three most common items stolen from boats over the winter are:
1. Electronics: To avoid a theft, it is worth your time and energy to remove electronics and store them at home. If they are permanently installed, record ownership information including model and serial numbers. Photos may also assist with a potential recovery or insurance claim.
2. Outboards: Small outboards should always be removed and stored in a secure location, such as your locked garage or basement. Larger outboards should have a lock installed.
3. Outdrives: Again, the best way to avoid this type of theft is to remove the unit and store in a safe location and ensure the serial number is recorded. If it will not be removed, install an outdrive lock.
The name of the game in preventing theft is deterrence — anything to make your boat or equipment less attractive to thieves is the goal. Here are some general tips:
1. If you are storing your boat away from home, ensure the yard or marina is secure with fencing and cameras.
2. If you are storing your trailerable boat at home, if possible don't leave the trailer tongue facing the street. Block the trailer and remove the tires, storing them inside, or add wheel locks. Put a lock on the hitch receiver.
3. Adding personalized markings to equipment can help identify and recover stolen items. By making them obvious, it also makes the items less "marketable."
4. Don't leave your dinghy on your club's or marina's rack unlocked or for long periods of time.
5. Make periodic visits to your boat over the winter. If you can't get to it, get a friend or yard worker to make a monthly visit.
6. Don't leave liquor out in the open where it can be seen.
7. Leaving a "for sale" sign posted all winter attracts the wrong kind of attention and gives someone an excuse to get aboard and look around.
8. BoatUS members can benefit from the BoatUS Theft Protection Program.
9. What's the most common type of boat stolen each year? Personal watercraft.
10. Don't forget that four-legged "bandits," such as raccoons and other critters, will enjoy your boat as much as spring breakers hitting the beach, so ensure winter covers are tight and remain securely attached. Don't store your boat in a place that makes it easier for animals to get aboard, such as near trees or building overhangs. Cover large exhaust ports. Don't leave a ladder affixed to the boat.
For more information on preventing a boat theft, review the BoatUS blog: "Love Your Boat? So Does Someone Else!" . For more information on boat insurance, call the BoatUS Marine Insurance Department at 800-283-2883. Or, to get a free quote online, go to www.BoatUS.com/insurance.