Marie-Claude Dulac

By Marie-Claude Dulac

July 22, 2016

Leisure

Protect Your Watercraft From Theft!

Article revised on 22 June 2017

Did you know that theft is one of the most frequently submitted insurance claims among recreational boaters in Quebec? Insurers make the majority of their payments for claims resulting from theft.

According to the Regroupement des plaisanciers du Québec, one out of every 200 watercraft will be stolen in the coming year. Theft is on the rise but what can you do to protect your watercraft so your season doesn’t end prematurely? Here are a few helpful answers.

Why is watercraft theft on the rise?

There are a number of reasons. First, unlike with cars, there is virtually no control over watercraft serial numbers by government agencies. For thieves, dealers and their clients, this means the odds of getting “busted” are much lower.

Another major factor is the high demand for used engine parts like motor shafts. Often damaged in collisions, these parts are very costly to replace and are not always covered by insurance, making it very popular among thieves and dealers…

Also remember that it’s easy for thieves to make off with smaller watercraft in isolated areas.

How can you safeguard against watercraft theft?

Theft will cause you grief, and entail many administrative procedures and expenses. Not to mention that watercraft insurance premiums are calculated in part to cover insurers’ financial losses resulting from theft. So it’s worth the trouble of taking all necessary precautions to reduce the risk of theft!

Secure it and hide it!

Many watercraft are stolen because they are poorly fastened to a trailer hitch or parked outside, in plain view.

You can certainly imagine how easy this makes it for thieves. They can make off with the watercraft in minutes!

Make it harder for them: equip your trailer hitch with a coupler lock designed specifically for that purpose. This lock should block the ball cavity on the trailer’s hitch, making it impossible to latch the watercraft to a vehicle.  You should ideally go with stainless steel or ductile cast iron locks.

However, there will always be professional thieves who will be able to detach the hand latch from the chassis and get around your lock. In order to improve security, we recommend you weld the hitch to the chassis, or install anti-theft screws (i.e. AMPBolt by AMPlock).

Did you know… 

Many watercraft insurance contracts stipulate that in order to be fully paid in the event of theft, the coupler lock must always be fastened with a lock specifically designed for that purpose.

Check your contract to make sure you have taken all the necessary measures to be fully paid in the event of theft!

When your watercraft is secured to your trailer, make sure you block the path to it. For example, you can:

  • Park it in a locked garage
  • Park it in a fenced area
  • Park another vehicle in front of it to prevent thieves from moving it

If your watercraft has an inboard/outboard motor, install an anti-theft locking ring on the motor shaft, like alloy wheels on cars. With this locking ring, the thief would need a special tool to unscrew the motor shaft. Once it’s installed, the owner doesn’t need to do anything else. So why go on without one?

Watercraft for sale… or to steal?

Are you selling your watercraft? Did you know that online classified ads attract more than just would-be buyers? Thieves also monitor these sites to locate items buyers would want, like watercraft and their parts.

Don’t make the mistake of including your home phone number! A simple reverse search online using your phone number is all a thief needs to do to find your watercraft. Provide a cell phone number or email address instead.

If, despite all these precautions, your watercraft is stolen.

It’s better to be proactive! Install a tracking device (like the TAG), that can track your watercraft by satellite if it’s stolen.

These types of systems were not reliable in the past, the tracking signal would be lost after the battery was removed for winter storage.

Now, they use high-performing lithium batteries which makes these devices a far more reliable option for tracking stolen watercraft.

Happy boating… and be proactive!

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