Keep Your Boat Under Lock And Key

More than 50 percent of all boats stolen are on trailers. Make sure yours isn't an easy "get".

Photo of combination lock sitting in a bowl of vingar and water.

Restore That Lock

When the padlock you use to lock your trailer's receiver gets stiff from too much exposure to salt and water, soak it for 30 minutes in a solution of one part vinegar to four parts water. Allow it to dry and spray it inside and out with WD-40 or similar. The lock will work like new.

Take The Legs Off

There is a wide variety of locks and security plates for trailers. Nothing is totally theft-proof, and many thefts occur when the thief simply removes the coupler latch bolt and tows the trailer away without a latch attached. If you're putting your boat away for any length of time, consider removing one or all of the wheels from your trailer. This will make it hard to steal, and it will extend the life of your trailer tires because they won't be exposed to the elements.

Protect Your Prop

Expensive propellers attract thieves; prop locks can discourage them. Some prop locks, such as those made by McGard, work on the same principle as locking nuts, and replace the prop nut. Others, such as those made by SecureProp and BSafe, secure and cover the prop nut to prevent tampering. The nuts on through-bolted outboard motors and sterndrive lower units can be removed and replaced with locking nuts similar to the locking lug nuts used on expensive automotive wheels. With items that are relatively easy to remove like props, putting up any barrier is likely to cause the thief to move on to an easier mark.

Special-Purpose Locks

Trailer tongue locks, like those offered by Master Lock, Reese, and Steal Shield, will keep a thief from attaching a vehicle to the trailer. Some work by preventing the coupler mechanism from opening or closing, some lock the coupler over a ball and secure a flat surface to the bottom of the tongue, and some completely enclose over the tongue and coupler. If you have a removable tongue, you can remove it, but some thieves carry trailer tongues with them! One alternative is to find a way to lock the tongue to the trailer; another is a wheel lock like those made by Trimax or The Club.

Lights Off

Make up a removable set of lights that hang on your transom for towing (see "How To Build A Light Bar"). If you can hang your trailer's license plate there, even better. When storing your boat, remove the lights and plate. Thieves know that towing a trailer at night — when it's most likely to get stolen — without lights or license plates is a sure way to attract law enforcement.

— Published: Fall 2013


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