Preventing Boat Crime

With the cost of marine theft reaching 1 million pounds a year in Hampshire alone, boats have become a lucrative target for thieves. Outboard engines and powerboats with trailers are the most commonly stolen, and account for 60% of boat thefts.

Image of pirate
Simple tips for boat owners

By following these simple tips boat owners could deter the majority of thefts themselves.


Lock your tender to a pontoon cleat or another strong point using a wire strop and strong padlock. Then either remove or secure the engine, fuel tanks, oars and other equipment.

If the pontoon is busy, look elsewhere. An unlocked tender is a free ride for criminals.


Marine equipment can sometimes seem over priced, and it can be tempting to invest in a cheap luggage lock. But consider the strength and anti-erosion features you will benefit from in the long run.

A strong piece of wire in a plastic hose should keep your outboard and equipment safe, and will cost around £20 from your local rigger.

Trailable vessels

According to the police, if you see a car towing a boat on a trailer after 11pm, there is an 80% chance it's been stolen. But still boat owners do not take trailer security seriously, despite the fact that boats on trailers can be worth over £100,000.

Wheel locks will deter a casual thief, but if you're storing a trailer for any length of time, remove the trailers wheels and attach an eye bolt secured in concrete. You can then chain the trailer. Some insurers insist on boats more that 17ft and kept on a trailer, must be locked in a secure building.

Alarms and tracking systems are also available and often offered as extras with new boats.

Making life difficult for thieves

The more you make life difficult for criminals, the more likely they are to leave your boat alone. A good quality padlock securing all hatches and deck lockers is a simple and effective way to secure your boat and deter any potential thieves. The main hatch could also be fitted with an extra hasp and padlock. Also, ensure hatch handles cannot be turned and opened from the outside.

Remove as much loose equipment as possible, including sails and pulleys. Anything too big to be stored, anchors for example, should be secured to something secure with wire strops and padlocks.


Curtains, blinds, shades and covers all protect your boat by keeping it out of sight. Loose covers on boats in mooring will attract attention from the police and can be a useful long-distance check for the owner. However, large covers can also hide the evidence. If items have been stolen, large covers could hide this as well as the thief themself.

Keep your eyes peeled

Regularly go onboard and check your boat. Reporting an incident quickly with a good estimate of when the crime took place can really help police with their investigations. Record all serial numbers and identify valuable items with a post code. Take photographs and log unusual features.

Report everything

By failing to report a theft you are preventing the police from getting a clear idea of the level of crime in your area. Three of four low level crimes will show police that there is an active thief on that area. This information can then be used to justify extra patrols to keep boats in the area safe.

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