Purchasing a state-of-the-art center console fishing boat is a sizeable investment. Not only is the boat itself an investment, but so are the marine electronics and all other equipment and gear included on the boat. It is no wonder, then, that a thief would have interest in stealing not only the entire boat but also the motors and electronics on the boat.
According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s 2018 watercraft theft report, 4,499 vessels were reported stolen in 2018 in the United States. In many cases, the boat is taken for the purpose of ripping the electronics and motors out. The hull, and everything left, is then discarded. A thief with knowledge of marine electronics and outboard motors can gut a center console in a matter of minutes, so it is important to take steps to safeguard your investment.
Your typical boat thief is on the lookout for a high-value target that requires minimal time to steal. Marine electronics fit this profile well – they are an easy target with very little anti-theft protection on most vessels. To make them that much more attractive to would-be thieves once parted from the vessel, marine electronics are easy to hide and have an established market. Unfortunately, the marine electronics industry has not done much to discourage the theft of their products.
For these reasons, a boat owner should take personal preventative measures to discourage would-be thieves from targeting their vessel and electronics. Any preventative measure that would make stealing the boat more difficult or time-consuming is a step that could cause the thief to move on to a softer target. As a thief needs access to the inside of the console to disassemble most dash-mounted electronics, making sure the console door/access is locked is a simple preventative measure that may cause a burglar to move on to an easier target. If the boat is kept trailered, a hitch lock is a cost-effective and simple way to increase the difficulty for a potential thief.
Sometimes even the best security measures and deterrents are not enough to prevent the theft of a boat. Fortunately, systems that aid in the recovery and tracking of stolen vessels are available at a variety of price points. GOST makes some of the most comprehensive and complete marine tracking, monitoring, and surveillance systems available. With a seemingly endless array of options for tracking, sensors, and deterrents, GOST is the top of the line in vessel security. However, at a price point of thousands of dollars, GOST is not necessarily practical for many center console owners.
One of the most affordable and easy to install systems is the SPOT Trace. This system requires a small beacon that is wired into the boat’s battery. The beacon sends an alert via a smartphone app anytime motion is detected while the system is activated. The user can then track the vessel in real-time using the app, allowing the owner and law enforcement to quickly locate and recover the vessel. A device such as this could be the difference between recovering a vessel intact or finding a bare hull with no motors or electronics. There are several companies that offer vessel monitoring and tracking. I recommend researching the various products and finding a product that suits the needs of your boat and budget.
A security camera system is not only a great deterrent but also a good resource to help law enforcement identify and apprehend boat and electronic thieves. If stored at home on a trailer, most home security systems have cameras available that allow both real-time access and motion-activated recording. Marinas have security cameras, but this won’t allow real-time viewing of your vessel and may not catch a would-be thief attempting to access a vessel.
A simple and inexpensive battery-powered camera such as the Ring Spotlight Cam can be used as either a visible deterrent or a concealed security camera. This camera allows motion-activated recording, live streaming, and two-way voice communication. It is also available in a battery-powered model, so there is no need for wiring or mounting near a power source. The camera pairs up with a smartphone via an app that allows access to all recent video clips as well as the ability to pull up a live feed of the camera. The Ring Spotlight camera is easy to set-up and a reasonable option to increase the security of your trailered or slipped boat. (Cameras that are activated by motion or movement should be reserved for boats that are trailered – as rocking of the waves or boat movement with the tide can trigger the cameras to record lots of footage of pylons, eating up battery and storage).
With a multitude of security options for center console fishing boats, it makes sense to protect your investment with a security solution that is right for your vessel and your budget. Many boat insurance policies now require some sort of anti-theft protection before they will cover any boat theft claims, so make sure you understand your policy and the anti-theft requirements within. At the very least, a good boat security system can deliver peace of mind knowing that your boat is not an easy target for criminals.
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