Boat thefts

Published: Friday, 29 July 2016

THE recent theft of a boat from Mercia Marina has many features in common with another boat theft a month or so earlier from Kings Bromley Marina, writes David Hymers.

In the latter case the boat's owners only discovered that their boat had been taken when they were telephoned by CaRT's licensing department enquiring why their boat was moored at Penkridge without either a number or licence being displayed.

Eventually found

Details of the boat were then posted online and it was eventually found at Milford and recovered. Apparently the thief is known to the police, but has not yet been caught, so the second theft could possibly be the same person.

In the past boats have been stolen when unattended on the towpath or by non-return at the end of a period of hire but I cannot recall a previous case of a boat being stolen from a marina, let alone two in a month. Thinking about it, it could happen very easily.

Monitor boats

I don't think it is regular practice amongst marina managements to monitor the comings and going of the boats they accommodate—certainly ours does not—and I am not sure that it would be either practicable or desirable for them to do so, especially the very large marinas. It would be a lot more work (and thus cost) for them and inconvenient to boaters who would have to notify their marina of their movements.

I think the best defence against this sort of theft is to make sure you have a comprehensive file of digital pictures of your boat, especially those features that cannot easily be altered, such as the window arrangements and the shape of bow and stern. The internet has proved to be an efficient way of tracing stolen boats in the past, even when they have been repainted, through the widespread publicity that can be quickly given.

Preventing theft in the first place is more difficult. External locks and bars simply advertise that the boat is unoccupied and, so I'm told, diesel engines are easy to start without a key. I suspect that the best idea would be some sort of smartphone connected monitoring device which would alert an owner when his boat is moving—I don't know if such a thing already exists, if not it probably soon will.