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Boat Theft Often Occurs in the Off-Season


If you’re about to store your boat for the off-season, be sure it’s in a secure location. Many theft cases happen when the boat is ashore.

“There are an unbelievable number of cases in which the storage facility says they never received the boat and the insured says that they left the boat in front of the building,” says Gene Robertson, supervisor in ERIE’s Corporate Security. “Many boat owners don’t discover that the boat is missing until they attempt to retrieve it at the start of the new season.”

Marine theft is a problem nationwide. From January to May, nearly 2,000 boats were stolen, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB). In 2010, there were more than 6,660 boat theft cases. Less than half of those stolen were recovered.

Navigating Safety and Security:

Whenever you’re storing your boat, the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) recommends obtaining a contract from the storage facility that includes an employee’s signature. Other proactive steps to follow:

1. Mark it: Mark your boat and equipment with the vessel’s Hull Identification Number (HIN). A 12-character serial number helps law enforcement agencies to recover stolen boats and equipment quickly. All motorboats, with very few exceptions, must display the registration number on the forward part of the boat.

2. Keep records: Place registration and title papers in a safe location other than your boat.

3. Take video or photographs: Take photos or videotape your boat, equipment and HIN.

4. Secure the ship: Disable the boat and remove expensive equipment when not in use. When parking a boat on its trailer, use a trailer hitch lock.

5. Buy insurance: Talk to your insurance agent about purchasing coverage for your boat and personal needs.

You should also be cautious when buying a boat. Carefully review the vessel and its ownership paperwork. To avoid problems, be sure to match the HIN listed on the title and registration to the one attached to the boat.

For more information about NICB or other fraud prevention tips, visit www.nicb.org. The site includes a Boat Theft Prevention Checklist.

Contact our agency to learn more about boat insurance coverage. Our coverage options help protect your boat, boating equipment and accessories.  We also protect you with liability and medical payments coverage.