Thefts and burglaries are on the increase in marinas and ports across Europe and North America. While most boat owners will reply on the protection offered by an insurance policy, there are several different steps that can be taken to help secure a vessel.
A boat by nature is left unattended for extended periods of time; in a marine or home-port, whilst on day trips touring or cruising, or for months throughout the winter lay-up period. These extensive breaks give the would-be thief a tempting target. In a lot of cases, a boat might well be easier prey than a top of the range motor vehicle.
Thieves often aim for the easiest target and are attracted by high-end electronics and communication systems. They are quite easy to remove and as these items are manufactured in high numbers, it is often easy to sell them on without too much risk. Ask at a particular yacht club or harbor to evaluate the potential risks in the local area. You might also be able to get information from an insurance company as they often hold data on problem areas.
Here are nine tips to safeguard the boat:
- Start by checking the insurance documents to establish the degree of coverage for theft of equipment onboard whilst laid up. If enough coverage isn’t in place, contact the insurance company to see what can be done. Read the policy carefully to understand what needs to be done to guarantee coverage is in place. If the insurance requirements aren’t met, the policy could effectively be worthless.
- Maintain a record of the serial numbers or identification codes to help identify a specific piece of equipment if unfortunate to suffer a loss. This record keeping applies mostly to the electronic equipment, outboard motor, and hull identification number (HIN).
- Along with the recorded serial numbers, it is also best to hold on to receipts for the items of equipment purchased and left on-board. These receipts might well be required by an insurance company if planning to make a theft claim.
- Use invisible pens to mark the expensive or portable items of equipment – these pens are great to put a specific mark or name and address on high-cost pieces of equipment. The writing would be invisible to the naked eye, but will show up under a UV light. Maintain a record of what’s marked and where. Marker pens of this nature can be found through police departments, security stores or insurance companies.
- A simple precaution to take is to ensure valuable items are kept out-of-sight from anyone outside the vessel. Make sure a boat is kept locked, use a padlock and chain if necessary.
- If possible remove the high-value or portable items of equipment from the vessel if left unattended for a period of time – for instance throughout the winter lay-up period. Hire a locker inside the club house or marina.
- Take photographs of the boat, parts, and equipment, such as the hull, interiors, rigging, deck, and valuable or easily removable pieces. All this information helps in the event of a loss.
- Install a high-quality alarm system, especially for the high-value vessel. Cameras, alarm systems, and lights can be great deterrents to thieves. Use stickers to indicate the presence of a security system. Fake cameras can be used as a cost-effective alternative to the real thing.
- If equipment is discovered to have gone missing, a first step should be to contact the police and then to contact the insurance company with all relevant details, including serial numbers and photo’s where applicable.