Weird question: How do most boats get stolen?

kmagnusskmagnuss Posts: 3,111 Captain
After reading about the Contender that got stolen a couple weeks back I've become a little worried about my boat being stolen. And it got me wondering... how does it usually happen? From storage yards I hear quite often... especially big, nice boats. Now I just have a little flats boat that's not really worth all that much (maybe $5k ?) and it's parked in my yard sort of hidden from the street (no traffic hardly at all on my street), and there's a motion light on it, and the hitch has one of those ball lock deals. Would somebody just back up and chain it to their truck and drive away and mess with the lock later? Would it even be worth the hassle to anybody?

Thanks for the tips... just wanting to make sure my stuff is secure.
Tarpon... everything else is just bait.
Captain Keith Magnussen - Crooked Rod Charters


  • Kevinwwings2Kevinwwings2 Posts: 1,268 Officer
    From what I have seen and know of they usually pre-scout out the boat. Then one guy comes in and removes locks with bolt cutters or what ever tools they decided they needed in the scout. Once that guy has removed locks and cleared the area the other guy backs the truck in and the rest is rolling history. Most tongue locks are pretty easily cut off with bolt cutters or similar tools. You can't stop them you can only hope the next boat down the road is more interesting than yours. Keeping the boat hidden is great but at the same time visibility is good too. On a flats boat I would not be hugely worried but unless it has a Yamaha 4 stroke or is really appealing. With that being said locks and as many of them as you can make feasible is always a great deterrent.
    I would probably be more worried about easily removable items like lower units, props, fishing tackle, and electronics, if you keep the boat reasonable locked down.
    Another great option is pass your neighbors some filets from time to time, that way they keep an eye on your boat for you when you can't.
  • CaptTaterCaptTater Posts: 20,096 AG
    There are 3 types.
    Stealing for resale or use or taking out of state.
    Stealing to take to Hialeah and part out. Motors ship out of Miami
    Human Smuggling.

    #1 is recoverable like the Contender
    Most reports are they steal them from lots or yards by simply cutting the fence lock, hooking up and go. I've not seen reports of a tongue lock being removed but I don't expect the news to go to that details.. I wish they did.

    #2 they don't care. Lots of stolen trucks used in those meaning the security cameras of the vehicles are worthless too. They put people in the boat with saws and wrenches and have everything ready to remove when they hit miami. Those are trashed and they've gotten them anyway possible.

    the above 2 will be trailer boats.

    #3 they get them trailered or driven to Maimi or the keys intact and are sometimes spotted at gas stations. They need them functional for as many runs as possible before the boat is trashed. At $10k a head and then the cubans getting $8k plus from the government to pay for more those again are gone boats. You wouldn't want it back if recovered anyway.

    One thing in common with most seems to be no tracking devices but surely not because the thieves know they have them or not. I can't see not having one on a high theft, high cost item when the devices are a couple hundred dollars.

    you can guess how our Guests in the country are most of the problem and we keep paying them to steal more.
    I did not read the story but if you take tax payers money maybe you should be held to some standards.-Cyclist
    when we say the same thing about welfare recipients, you cry like a wounded buffalo Sopchoppy
    It's their money, they spend it how they like. Truth and honesty have nothing to do with it. - Mr Jr
    "“A radical is one who advocates sweeping changes in the existing laws and methods of government.” "
  • The Cat's EyeThe Cat's Eye Posts: 1,271 Officer
    Boat thieves come in several categories. I'll start with the least experienced and move up to the professionals.

    1,) First there is the type of thief who just wants to steal a boat for personal use. This type might steal any kind of boat but probably will go for a small boat that would not arose suspicion with parents, neighbors and/or friends. The boat will usually be small enough so that it can be stored out of sight. He probably would be thwarted by a lock or two and a chain. He will look for a unguarded boat in a yard. He will apply for a homemade boat title after he steals your boat and re paint it. This thief is most likely your local teenager punk who breaks into cars and might even be a part time house burglar. They might wind up as career criminals like the rest on this list. They usually "work" in neighborhoods that they are familiar with.

    2.) Second on my list are the type of thieves that are only interested in the engine(s) and equipment. They might be able to cut some locks or chains. They will strip the boat and dump it as soon as they can. This type of thief makes a living at re-selling the engines and equipment that is stripped from your hull. They will steal a boat from anywhere they can, but mainly concentrates on boats with wheels, so it can be towed quickly with a stolen truck to a secluded yard or warehouse for stripping. This type of thief is mainly interested in brand new or slightly used large engines with low hours on them. This type of thief can sometimes be thwarted with multiple locks, chains and wheel boots since he doesn't want to spent a lot of time at the scene while stealing it. These type of thief is a career criminal and will usually have a criminal history of auto and boat theft. They will usually be in their mid twenties to early forties and usually work in rings.

    3) Third on my list is the thieves who need a offshore boat to transport drugs or illegal immigrants. They look for fast boats with multiple engines in residential yards and/or docks. The are mainly interested in newer fast offshore boats over 26 feet for their offshore reliability. These thieves often have the capacity to quickly cut through any chains, locks, fences and/or wheel boots. They often employ two or three teams to accomplish this. The first team cuts the locks and/or fences and then the second team moves in later to take the boat and trailer with a stolen truck. While they are towing the boat away from your house they often have another vehicle following them at a distance in case they get pulled over by a LEO. Then they will bail out and run. Once they get away from the cop who stopped them, they will phone for the backup car to pick them up. They might only use the stolen boat only for a few trips and then dump it or move it to Mexico when it finally is trashed, since keeping it at their house in S. Florida would be a liability. These thieves are the hardest to thwart. Hidden GPS tracking devices are your best investment for this type of theft. They will steal boats from anywhere in Florida and even further north. They are not interested in the boat itself but in the big money this type of criminal activity offers. They can be best be described as people with dark tans, little or no education, and driving fancy cars and owning expensive boats. They usually stand out by living way above their educational level and legal employment if they even work at all.

    4.) Forth is the thief who is interested in large and very expensive yachts. These thieves will pilot the stolen yacht to the Bahamas or further down in the Caribbean and South America. They will hit marinas and/or water front docks. This type of theft fortunately is not that common. The owners of these yachts will sometimes employ people to "steal" it back if they can locate their stolen boat, since any legal method to get the boat returned could take years. Once a very expensive boat was found in the possession of a high level state official in the Bahamas after being stolen from an upscale marina in Ft. Lauderdale. That boat was successfully "stolen" back.

    I have purposely left out crimes that can occur on the high seas like pirating etc. and have focused mainly on the type of boat theft that occurs with regularity in South Florida. Florida leads the entire USA in boat thefts with the bulk of them occurring in Dade and Monroe County.

    Over the years I have had two attempts to steal a boat from my yard. Both attempts were thwarted by very heavy locks and forged chains, but those attempts happened years ago and those same locks and chains are not enough for today's determined thieves.
  • Fish HaidFish Haid Posts: 8,259 Admiral
    A fellow forum member had an interesting story- His canoe got stolen from his friend's cow pasture. Sometime later, he found a wallet on the ground near where the canoe had been. He went to the address and spoke with the kid's mother who said that her son had recently purchased a used canoe. Junior had some splainin' to do when he got home!
  • HejzabayboatworksHejzabayboatworks Posts: 114 Officer
    Even here in brevard county boat disappear quiet regularly from back yards and side yards. My friend in the back of cocoa had both neighbors on both sides of her boats stolen in one night. And hers left alone. I prefer the out of sight out of mind approach. Behind a 7ft tall privacy fence that's basically only open to get my 2 boats or fourwheeler out. Plus I have padlocks on the inside of the gates. So you have to jump them to even cut em. Add in my light sleeping dog and last but not least line of theft deterrence, my 9mm that's half a arm reach away if I'm around to hear it happen.
  • bebrownbebrown Posts: 338 Deckhand
    Remeber seeing this a few years ago, and thought that if I had a big high powered go fast boat, I would have a tracking system. As i recall, the owner was in Vegas when he got a text message saying that his boat was moving. He had to call FHP in Jacksonville and get them to initiate the search along I-95. Finally caught in Brevard County.
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