12 Tips to Protect Your Motor Cruiser From Theft

As with anything of value, you should take the relevant precautions to protect your motor cruiser from theft. 

Unfortunately, marine enthusiasts have become a prime target for thieves, with the boat and, in particular, the high-value equipment onboard, seen as relatively easy to steal, transport and alter. Outboard motors, navigation equipment and tools are some of the most commonly stolen items. This is why it’s vital you consider all aspects of your boat's security and follow these top tips to save you both the heartache and financial loss of marine theft.

1. Don’t leave anything on display

It goes without saying that anything of value should be kept out of sight from windows or doors. If blackout windows aren’t an option, it’s always worth installing curtains and blinds as an additional measure, so that passersby can’t see what’s inside the motor cruiser. To help deter theft further, you can purchase stickers that say there are no valuables left on board.

Another option would be to install security cameras, whether they’re real or not, just the look of them is enough to put off any potential thieves. Alternatively, you could install VirCru’s SmartBoat system. Their easy-to-install sensors connect to any smart device that gives you a comprehensive view of your boat’s condition, from wherever you are - including sending alerts of intruders and moving equipment.

2. Check what items are loose or detachable on the outside of the vessel 

Anything that you can pull loose or detach from the boat is at risk of being stolen, as a thief could do the same. When not in use, always put loose items inside the boat when moored – oars or a dinghy, for example – or take them away completely.

  1. 3. Identify where entry could be forced 

    Only you, as the owner of the boat, can identify any potential weak spots that could be taken advantage of. Take the time to fully assess your vessel, as though you were the thief – are there any loose windows without locks, could the door easily be forced open? You can then take the necessary steps to reinforce these weak points.


  1. 4. Is where you leave your vessel safe?

    There are a number of things to consider when choosing where to leave your boat; the mooring could be too concealed and far from any watchful eyes, therefore an easy target, or it could be the opposite and too accessible. Ideally, you should leave your boat somewhere with security measures in place, such as regular patrols, which will massively help deter any potential thieves. You should also try to leave any removable equipment in a locked garage.


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  3. 5. Keep a record of all serial numbers for valuables

    For any marine equipment or valuables, be sure to keep a record of all their individual serial numbers and store them away from the vessel. Should anything ever be stolen, you’ll be able to provide copies to the police to help trace items back to you. The free digital boat organiser, MyBoat, is an ideal solution for storing this information.

    6. Engrave ID tags onto all valuables

    It’s also worth tagging every piece of equipment, to deter theft, with your name, home port, phone number and boat ID number. Everything from your radio to your navigation system – get into the habit of marking any new item as soon as you buy it. This would put people off from stealing, as the equipment would then be more easily traceable back to the owner. 

    7. Choose a comprehensive insurance policy

    Having a comprehensive insurance policy will help to protect your motor cruiser, with GJW Direct's  motor cruiser insurance policy your boat will be in safe hands. Offering specialist cover for your boat, whether it be on or offshore, there is a range of options to suit each boater's needs. 

    8. Invest in secure padlocks and bolts 

    Many insurance policies stipulate that for the policy to be valid, there must be evidence of a fitted lock that has been specifically designed for purpose. If you have a larger boat, it’s suggested you need an additional clamp lock and motor bolt lock.

    9. Always leave your boat engine out of commission when not in use for long periods of time 

    Whether it’s a case of installing a cut-off switch or draining the fuel, if you’re not planning on using your boat for an extended period of time, it’s worth taking this extra precaution to prevent anyone from being able to steal it.

white speedboats dock on harbour during daytime

  1. 10. Keep your boat keys separate from your engine keys

    This way, no one will be able to steal both at the same time, rendering the boat useless. And never leave them on board, even if it’s in a ‘secret’ spot. If someone manages to get on board, it's likely that they know the way around a boat and will have a good chance of finding them. 

    11. Don’t leave any personal information or boat documentation on board 

    Not only is theft of belongings an issue, but someone may be able to access personal documentation that could cause substantial damage. Never leave any boat ownership documents aboard your boat as this will make it easier to sell on for the criminal or reveal personal identification details. Again, MyBoat is an ideal solution to keep cruiser documentation in one safe and secure location - digitally.

    12. Be vigilant 

    Last but certainly not least, help both yourself and other boaters by always staying vigilant. If you think someone is being suspicious around your local docks, report it to the marine authority. If you notice a huge security flaw on a fellow boater's vessel, point it out to them; theft often occurs more than once in the same area, so it pays to make sure everyone is taking all the necessary security procedures.

    By following these simple tips you will have peace of mind knowing your motor cruiser is protected from theft.


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