Boat Safety / June 29, 2023

8 tips to prevent boat theft

Boat theft does occur in Canada, depending on a few factors, such as the location of the boat, the type of boat, and the security measures in place to protect it. In recent news, reported by the Vancouver Sun on June 28, 2023, 14 boats were stolen from a secure business in Kelowna, BC.  Thieves are brazen and it is important to learn the 8 tips to prevent boat theft.

According to statistics from the Insurance Bureau of Canada, boat thefts account for a small percentage of overall thefts in the country. In 2019, there were approximately 1,000 reported cases of boat theft across Canada, representing a decrease from the previous year.

It’s important to note that not all boat thefts are reported to authorities or insurance companies, so the actual number of incidents may be higher. Boats can be a valuable target for thieves, especially if they are not properly secured or if they are left unattended in areas with high crime rates.

Boat owners can take the following steps to reduce the risk of theft, such as:

  • Install security systems.
  • Lock up the boats when not in use.
  • Keep a record of the boat’s identification information.
  • Registering the boat with Transport Canada can help deter theft, as it makes it more difficult for thieves to sell or transfer ownership of the stolen vessel.

Crowdsourcing to track stolen boats

boat lock

It’s unfortunate that websites like still need to exist, but the reality is that boat theft remains a persistent problem. Two law enforcement officers who specialized in marine theft from British Columbia created This website serves as a crowdsourcing resource, leveraging the boating community and industry to help solve marine theft cases across Canada. Victims of boat theft can post detailed information about their missing boats, engines, and trailers on free of charge. It also features a “recovered boats” page, which unfortunately tends to be quite lengthy. Additionally, the Government of Canada maintains a Canadian Police Information webpage where visitors can search for stolen boats, boat motors, and other types of vehicles.

Crowdsourcing to track stolen boats has proven to be effective in many cases. Sometimes, it only takes an alert and observant member of the public to provide valuable information to the police. For example, at the Vancouver Quayside Marina, a person witnessed someone peeling off identifying decals from a kayak and promptly alerted the authorities. At the Oak Bay Marina, a witness noticed a 54-foot yacht leaving its slip at 3:30 am, which seemed unusual considering the boat was up for sale. These instances highlight the importance of community involvement in combating boat theft.

Thieves target a wide range of vessels, from small kayaks and personal watercraft to large yachts. Even boats intended for rescuing people in danger are not exempt from theft. For instance, Nanaimo BC’s Harbour Air, discovered one morning that their safety boat had been stolen from its dedicated dock in the harbour. Similarly, the eight-metre Spirit of Harrison search and rescue boat was taken from a locked compound in Agassiz, BC. Thanks to the power of social media and the sharing of the story, tips poured in and eventually led to the recovery of the boat in Chilliwack, BC.

In another case, a couple from Orillia, Ontario used social media to track down their stolen boat, which had ended up in Florida. The couple’s $500,000 Nor-Tech 390 Sport boat was stolen while it was in the shop for repairs. They posted a Facebook ad offering a reward, and soon enough, someone in Ft. Lauderdale reached out because they had seen the distinct-looking boat.


While it’s fortunate to have witnesses who are willing to come forward and provide valuable information, we can’t solely rely on them to protect our boats from theft. Winter poses a higher risk for boat theft as vessels are often moored in marinas far away from the owners’ vigilant eyes or stored on trailers in outdoor compounds located in low-traffic areas.

Protect your boat from theft

To safeguard your boat from theft or vandalism, it’s essential to make it harder and more time-consuming for thieves to steal. Here are some updated tips on how you can protect your boat:

1. Keep your boat’s keys or spare keys at home or with you when not on the boat or storing it.

2. Remove all personal belongings and removable equipment from the boat and store them in a secure location.

3. Equip your boat, motor, and trailer with anti-theft devices such as motion sensor burglar alarms, motion sensor lighting, and tracking devices.

4. When storing your boat on land, choose a closed, locked facility with 24-hour surveillance and security measures.

5. For boats on trailers, use secure locking mechanisms like wheel clamps, hitch couplers, or padlocks to secure the vessel and motor.

6. If storing your boat at home or in an open space, park it within view and chain it to an immovable object like a tree or building.

7. Another option for home storage is to jack the trailer up on blocks and remove the wheels, storing them elsewhere. This deters thieves from attempting to move the boat.

8. Cover your boat with a heavy-duty, waterproof cover to protect it from vandalism or partial theft.

Allicia Campbell, VP of Operations Pacific Marine Underwriting Managers, recommends that all boats on trailers be locked to the trailer at all times, even when in winter storage, at a dealership or in the marina.

When shopping for a boat, it’s important to take precautions to avoid purchasing a stolen vessel:

  • Examine the hull numbers carefully. If they appear obscured, tampered with, or freshly altered, it could be a red flag.
  • Review all original documents provided by the seller, ensuring they are not photocopies, and look for any discrepancies before making a deposit.
  • Be cautious if the seller has owned the boat for less than a year or if the boat has recently arrived in the province.
  • If the boat lists multiple owners, it’s wise to speak with the other party to avoid getting caught in a potential familial dispute.

If you suspect someone is attempting to sell a stolen boat, contact the police immediately. Preventing stolen boats benefits every boat owner by helping to keep insurance costs down and protecting the boating community. Stay vigilant and implement security measures to safeguard your vessel.

Resources for: Tips to prevent boat theft
Avoid buying a stolen boat
Two boats stolen in Rideau lakes
Canadian indicted for boat theft
Safety boat stolen in Nanaimo
Oak Bay police recover stolen yacht
Rescue vessel goes missing
$500,000 stolen Ontario boat found in Florida


Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

Get on board.

Let us take care of your pleasure craft insurance.

Contact Us

Get started