Boats are a prime target for theft, and often for reasons people may not realize.
Things in the boat, the boat itself, even the large gas tanks on boats attract a lot of thieves. Even worse, boat manufacturers don’t seem to take security of the boat seriously, as the keys themselves are often alike or easy to bypass.
Let’s not forget boat trailers! Used boat trailers are always in demand and with many states do not require registration or plates for some trailers; it makes it easy for thieves.
The good news is that there are several things you can do to stop thieves, or at least make it harder for them and move on to someone else.
How To Protect Your Boat And Trailer From Theft
There are a few basic things you need to do when it comes to your boat and trailer. Everything else in this article is going the extra mile, so let’s get you to do the basic stuff first.
- Write down, take pictures, and pencil-rub the VIN of your boat and trailer. You’ll need this if your boat is lost or stolen, and a pencil-rub is often needed by insurance companies.
- Get insurance on your boat! Things happen, and that is why you have insurance.
- Take a picture of your bill of sale or keep the document safe. You may need this to prove you own the boat and trailer.
- Take pictures of how your boat is stored and locked down as proof that you’re trying.
Store the pictures, documents and other information somewhere safe like a file cabinet in your home. You could also get a password manager and store it in there along with all your other sensitive and private information, as it will be encrypted with a password you pick.
1. Keep Keys Out Of Boat
I’m often surprised by how many people keep the keys to their boats inside their boats. Or store in an unlocked dock box and often with spare cash for gas too!
I know many people think they live in a safe neighborhood and theft should be no problem, but thieves love to target people who think this way.
Either keep the keys inside your locked home or get a lock for the dock box.
2. Get Locks For Trailer
You can buy several types of locks for your boat trailer, some are better than others.
The first type of lock I would get is a trailer tongue lock (Amazon Link Ad), as it keeps someone from hooking up to a truck and driving off.
You can also get wheel locks, but they don’t seem to me to be the best way to do it.
What works the best to lock your trailer is a big chain with a good lock (Amazon Link Ad). The chain can go around the frame of the trailer, but you need to attach it to something secure. Using a large chain is often just enough to make a thief keep going as they can see it, but if they do try it, you get a lot of time to hear them trying to rip it off.
3. Use GPS Trackers
I love having trackers in my boat and trailer for several reasons.
- If the boat is stolen, I can locate it.
- If family or friends borrow the boat, I can find it.
- If I rent out my boat, I know where it’s at and can help them navigate back home.
Having a tracker for your boat just make sense, and it’s hard to go without one these days.
You can buy GPS Trackers like this one (Amazon Link Ad) that are made for this and will be the best option all around.
If you’re cheap, like me, and want something that works “okay” then you can use Apple AirTags. I do have to mention that Apple did not design AirTags for this purpose, and they’re not waterproof. The AirTag will alert others if it’s following them to cut down on stalking. But I still hide an AirTag in my boat’s glove compartment (owner’s manual because no one reads those) as it’s better than nothing.
4. Get Cameras
Security cameras have come a long way, it would have never been a thought of mine to have one 10 years ago because of cost and getting one set up.
Nowadays, you can get solar-powered security cameras (Amazon Link Ad) and place it anywhere there is sun and Wi-Fi.
With person detection, it keeps notifications down and alerts you to real threats. Some even have speakers, so you can warn that fisherman getting too close to the rocks at your docks.
The cameras will also help with recovering your boat as it can capture who did it and maybe even the truck they used. The camera will also reveal weak points of your security as you see how people react around your dock.
You can even be crazy like me and make a bird house for the camera to hide it. Just leave a spot on top for the solar panel and make the hole big enough for the camera and sensors.
5. Remove Trailer Parts
The harder you make it to steal your boat and trailer, the more likely they’ll skip over you and go to the next guy.
The most annoying, but beneficial to you, is to remove your trailer tires and put it on stands. Sure, it’s annoying, but it’s even more annoying to the thief. Where this helps you is that if you’re storing your boat for months, it gets the tires off the ground and keeps them from going flat or dry rotting away.
Just make sure to properly re-attach the parts you take off and torque them down to the correct specs when it’s time to use the trailer again.
6. Store Your Boat Gas Tank Near Empty
Not many people realize this, but boats are huge targets for gas theft, especially since boat owners tend to use better and care more for the gas due to the marine environment.
Boats also hold a lot of fuel, some can fuel a car 3 or 4 times over!
When gas prices start to get crazy, people tend to get more bold and will steal the gas out of your boat. Even if you put a lock on your boat gas cap, it’s not hard to figure out how to get the gas out.
I know it’s a hotly debated topic about how much gas you should leave in your boat when storing it, but gas theft is just one of the reasons I like to keep my boat’s gas tank near empty. Not completely empty, but one or two bars of gas.
Having one of those solar-powered security cameras will help, especially if you hide it like me, but overall, I like to keep the boat near empty for long periods of storage to stop thieves.
Get yourself some solar-powered motion lights (Amazon Link Ad) and put them around your boat. Thieves don’t like the attention, and motion activated lights make a lot of attention.
I also like these lights as I put them places where I need to see things, like the combination lock, as it makes it easier to see what I’m doing around my boat. I also line up the dock with these lights, as it makes it easy to get back from a night ride when getting off the boat.
8. Motion Sensors
I’ll admit, some of these things are overkill and really not needed, but I like trying new things like this and makes me feel better about my boat.
One thing I thought would not be worth it but turned out to be useful was putting a door sensor on my dock gate. Whenever someone opened the gate, I would get an alert on my phone. The gate is only opened when going to the boat, so it’s a good first clue something is not right.
I went with this door sensor because of its range (Amazon Link Ad), but you need the hub for it to work. With the hub, I can also add other things like a temp sensor to the inside of my boat engine compartment to warn me when it gets below 32F, so I can winterize my boat.