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Virginia Watercraft Owner's Guide

Boat Theft Prevention

When Buying a Boat

  • Be careful because it could be stolen.
  • Be certain that the boat's description on the title matches the boat you are buying. Check year, make, length, and hull identification number.
  • Be sure the model and serial number on an outboard motor have not been removed, tampered with or altered.
  • Be suspicious of a fresh paint job on a late model vessel.
  • When buying a used vessel, try to deal with a reputable marine dealer or a broker licensed by the state.
  • If the price seems too good to be true, there is a good chance that the boat is stolen.

Equipment Identification

  • Mark all equipment when purchased.
  • If your boat was built before 1972, it may not have a hull identification number.
  • It is a good idea to inscribe that registration number onto some unexposed location on the interior of your boat.
  • Document boat contents.
  • Store gear/electronics when not in use.

Trailerable Boats

Stealing a boat is much easier if a thief can hitch up to your boat on a trailer and drive away. These tips may help.

  • If possible, store the boat and trailer in a locked garage.
  • Store boats in the back or side yard out of sight.
  • Store the boat with the trailer tongue not easily accessible.
  • Park another vehicle or other large object in front of the trailer.
  • Remove one trailer wheel.
  • Purchase a good quality trailer hitch lock and use it—even if stored inside.

Vessel Security

There are several things that can be done to reduce the risk of vessel theft.

  • Lock Marine Hatch.
  • Lock the Forward Hatch.
  • Lock Windows

Report It

If your boat, trailer, or gear is missing, report it immediately to the following groups. Use your written and photographic marine record to give specific and complete information.

  • Local law enforcement agencies.
  • Your insurance company.
  • Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.
  • The dock or harbormaster.
  • Neighboring boaters.
  • Local newspapers.