Security devices

Marine crime generally ranges from theft of boats and equipment to vandalism. At any one time a would-be thief has a choice of several hundred thousand unattended crafts to choose from. In rivers and estuaries, harbours and marinas, the boats lie unoccupied for weeks or months on end, frequently with expensive and readily saleable equipment on board. With many only having a padlock or simple Yale-type lock to keep the intruder out.

Boat alarms

The most basic alarm consists of a sensor fitted to entry hatches and doors, and is connected to an audible onboard alarm. More sophisticated ones will also send a signal to a remote monitoring station, such as the marina office. There is even a system that allows you to log on to a website to see your boat on CCTV.

Hatch and door locks

Many boats have hatchways closed by drop-in boards and a sliding hatch, the whole contraption is kept in place by a hasp and staple secured with a padlock. Almost any such boat can be made more secure simply by beefing up the dimensions of the various components, or by replacing them with a rim lock fitted on the inside. Sliding doors on more modern craft with basic Yale-type cylinder locks can be made less vulnerable with a plunger lock through the track.

Window locks

Even boats with adequate door locks may have sliding windows fastened in place only by small clips that could be forced open in minutes. These should be upgraded.

Equipment alarms

The most vulnerable equipment on board is the gear that lives outside the accommodation because it’s too bulky, heavy, or dirty to stow below. It’s possible to buy an alarm that provides “perimeter protection”, with a closed-loop electric cable that you weave round anything a thief might target. Any attempt to remove the cable by cutting it or bridging it sets off the alarm.

Outboard motor lock

Smaller outboards aren’t through-bolted on to the transom of the boat, they’re fixed and held in position simply with a pair of screw clamps, making them easy for the owner to remove. Unfortunately, this also makes it easier for the thief.

An outboard motor lock is a stainless steel tube with a slot along most of its length and a barrel lock at the open end. The tube is slid in place over the clamps and the barrel lock secured, preventing the clamps from being turned or released.

Wheel clamp

This is still the most effective way of preventing a trailer from being moved.


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