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Reducing equipment theft

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What is the issue?
Equipment theft from seagoing vessels is thankfully rare, but it does happen and with some forethought and policy it can be an unnecessary risk.

Why address this?
A quick glance shows the vessel that has a show of strength of precautionary security steps may be enough to put a thief off.

How to address this?
General practices

Avoid hasp and padlock for the main hatch as they are completely vulnerable to the blow of a hammer or bolt cutters. Fit a rim lock instead, many can be inserted into the washboard itself to still allow flat storage. The best security is offered by domestic 'single cylinder jimmy-proof deadlock' (the type you see securing the doors of New York apartments). This type of lock makes it possible to also lock the companionway from the inside. It does however have the disadvantage that the top washboard will no longer stow flat.

Record all the serial numbers of your equipment as a matter of policy.

Etch boat name on to the windows and all equipment via an etching kit that is available from most car accessory outlets. If possible place your name and phone number so that it is clear everything is marked and subsequent disposing of the equipment will be difficult.

Protect your anchor by either riveting over the anchor shackle or having a locking arrangement when in port.

Use pre-drill bolts so split pins or split rings can be deployed or lock nuts to securely fasten down all expensive deck equipment

Life-raft, life rings, dinghy, engine and all moveable equipment should have the vessels name clearly stencilled on.

Have removable lights that can be detached and stored down below. This is especially the case with expensive LED lights and particularly so if you typically do not sail at night.

Perspex is easy to cut through to gain access, especially since the advent of portable grinders. If you have a Perspex hatch that is large enough for a thief to pass through glue and bolt a stainless steel bar across it and lock the latch handles in place.

Stick privacy window film on the inside of portholes so people cannot check out the vessel during the day. In hot climates privacy film has the added benefit of reducing the light and heat by a quarter and UV transmission by up to three quarters.

Locate the battery switch in an inconspicuous place on the vessel.

Arriving into a port:

Padlock all external lockers.

Remove the outboard motor and stow it in a locker. If it is not possible lock it to its mounting bracket pad lock the engine cover closed to prevent parts been removed.

Lock a chain or wire painter to the dinghy and all secondary equipment around the vessel such as anchors etc.

Fasten a chain or wire over the life-raft.

Take away and stow safety equipment such as life-rings and dan buoys etc.
Cover over the wheel house and draw across curtains so that equipment is not on show.

Remove and hide the battery key when leaving the vessel.

If you are in a suspect area and leaving the boat unattended for the evening. Draw the curtains and leave a light on plus the domestic radio up loud so the vessel appears to be occupied.

With thanks to:
Michael Harpur, Yacht Obsession.

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