theft prevention

theft prevention

With the summer cruising season well underway, River Canal Rescue (RCR) has put together some boat safety tips to help prevent theft: 

  • Fit a good quality alarm with warning signs and a GPS tracker  (the latter’s also included within our new platinum membership package) 
  • Consider a smart boat monitoring system. Connection permitting, you’ll be able to remotely monitor what’s happening and be alerted if your boat moves  
  • Fit security lighting and CCTV 
  • Leave a low-power LED internal light on, or set it up via a timer switch  
  • Fit window guards and bars across entrance doors  
  • Use high-quality door locks and heavy-duty internal hasps. If using padlocks, buy cylinder high-security van types – they’re harder to pick, but be mindful a padlock is a clear signal you’re not onboard 
  • Never leave your key in the ignition and carry your boat key separately 
  • Remove your battery isolator keys and keep them with you or put them somewhere safe (it’ll stop someone starting the engine and moving the boat)  
  • Store the serial number of your engine and gear box, and hull identification number. This will help the police and CRT track your vessel if it is moved, and don’t leave original registration documents onboard, it makes it easier to transfer ownership   
  • Transfer essential documents onto your phone, laptop or tablet and store the information on the cloud- so you can recover it if necessary  
  • Lock your valuables away/ move them out of sight and mark with a UV marker pen or the newer forensic dna marker pen – it makes it easier to return stolen goods to owners  
  • Buy a locking fuel cap - in addition to the financial loss, you’ll be stranded without fuel 
  • If you have a roof box, remove any valuables and leave nothing on show  
  • Chain up bikes 
  • Curtains - open or closed? There are differing opinions, so we suggest a compromise – pull them halfway so anyone peering in can’t tell if you’re there or not 
  • Chain your boat to moorings in urban areas, heavy-duty cable ties also work if you clamp ropes together close to bollards and t-stands 
  • If moored near other boaters, let them know you’re leaving the boat and give them your contact details so you can be reached. 

RCR managing director, Stephanie Horton, adds: “While marinas provide the safest moorings, it’s not always practical to be in one. When mooring away from marinas, check the surrounding area, does it look safe, how accessible is the towpath, is there lighting, are there buildings or houses nearby?   

“Know your location – find out from Google Maps or other apps whether there’s a pub, local landmark or named streets near to you, make a note of the postcode in case you have to make an emergency call.   

“If you’ve invested in deterrents such as alarms, trackers, commercial-grade security etc, thieves may consider the boat too difficult to break into. And your outlay could be off-set with cheaper premiums as insurers will recognise your efforts.

“If you do encounter a problem, our rapid response team can help minimise damage in some emergency scenarios, where the stability of your vessel is at risk, but in others, such as vandalism and theft, insurers require you to take steps first. 

“This means boarding up your craft, reporting the incident to the police (and getting a crime number), taking photos, recording what’s missing and contacting your insurance company as soon as possible.  This evidences a ‘duty of care’ and should help the claim progress more smoothly.

“Your insurer will also expect you to have taken reasonable precautions including locking your boat and removing any on-deck gear when the boat’s unattended. Claims are only paid if force is used to break into the boat.  

“Being part of our waterway community means there are tools and organisations to support you if your boat is stolen. Go online first, it can return some impressive results. When we were notified of a stolen boat in Nottingham, we shared it online and within an hour and a half, the boat was found, and we had a description of who took it and where it had been. Social media and online forums are great at spreading the word.

“The Canal & River Trust can also assist police with surveillance, via its UK-wide network of employees and volunteers.”

Stephanie concludes: “The boating community is a great deterrent to would-be thieves; we look out for each other and are keen to give a helping hand when needed. Although this can help with crime prevention, it may not be enough to stop opportunistic thieves helping themselves to your belongings and even your boat (it’s not only boaters who take to the water when the weather’s warmer and the evenings lighter). 

These tips make it harder to steal a boat, and the more time would-be thieves have to spend on the vessel, the more likely they’ll draw attention to themselves, and want to leave the mooring.”

This entry was posted in Editorials on by .

About River Canal Rescue

River Canal Rescue offers 24/7 marine breakdown assistance and recovery across the UK's inland waterway system. It also undertakes engine servicing and inspections, offers additional services (from plumbing and domestic electrical work to hull repairs, engine refits and insurance work), devised the world's first environmentally-friendly filter 'Bilgeaway' and has an online chandlery.