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Thieves are attracted to all kinds of things on boats. If it can be taken, it will be. They will steal your outboard motor, life raft and expensive equipment as well as anything else that takes their fancy - radios, tools, personal items and even the boat itself. 

Marine Crime

Theft from a boat is far more likely to happen than the boat being stolen. You can guarantee that property won’t be stolen from your boat by remembering to take it home.

Although it’s time consuming, unplug all your instruments, pack them up and transport everything to shore. It’s the only way to ensure your valuables are safe.

Consider displaying our poster (see download at the bottom of the page) in your boat, showing that no valuables are left inside.

When you leave your boat, consider how it looks to a potential thief. How would you get in if you were locked out? This is probably the way a thief would try.

Improve your security with effective locks that will last in the marine environment.

Make sure you:

  • keep valuable items out of sight and locked away
  • get a good-quality wheel clamp for the trailer if you use one
  • get a detachable hitching mechanism for the trailer
  • secure the trailer to a solid structure when storing the boat and trailer
  • secure your hatches with good-quality marine-specific locks
  • use locking fuel caps or locking bars to combat fuel theft
  • secure outboards, dinghies and anchors to the deck with good-quality hasps and marine-fit padlocks

There are lots of alarms available: speak to members of your club or other boat users to learn what might work well for you.

Audible alarms can be an effective deterrent, although relies on your boat being somewhere that people will hear it.

Consider using a covert GPS tracking device for expensive boats.

If your security system can tell you if somebody is on board, be sure you or somebody is in a position to respond.

Marking items can deter theft and make it easier for police to identify and return property, and to prosecute offenders.

Many items will already have a serial number, so make a note of these, along with any distinctive markings, somewhere safe away from your boat.

When you mark something:

  • use something identifiable, such as your home or club postcode and remember to keep this up-to-date
  • make it hard to remove
  • put some marks out of sight in addition to more obvious ones
  • take photographs of it as well


When you buy second-hand goods never assume the property is legitimate – check out as much as you can about the item and the seller.

Register your property for free on Immobilise – it helps the police identify the owners of recovered property. You can register anything that as a serial number with Immobilise.

Think about where you keep your boat – thefts more often occur from boats that are easy to reach from the shore. Few offenders will use a boat themselves as it increases the risks to them.

If you use a marina, know what areas the CCTV cameras cover and what the lighting is like. Ask what security is on site and if access is restricted to the pontoons.

Reporting Incidents to the Police

If you see anything suspicious around a boat or marina call 101 straight away. If you're deaf or hard of hearing, use our textphone service on 18001 or text us on 999 if you’ve pre-registered with the emergencySMS service.

If it’s an emergency call 999 now.

Check your boat once a week, if you can. When you leave it longer it’s more difficult to investigate and harder to find stolen proper

If you have any further questions about Marine Watch please contact 101 or e-mail marinewatch@cumbria.police.uk