Florida is Number One On National List For Watercraft Theft

 In Maritime Law

Jet SkiesFlorida leads the nation in boats with more than 900,000 registered vessels. It should come as no surprise then that Florida also leads the nation with the most watercraft thefts. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), a non-profit organization that analyzes date on insurance claims, the top five states for thefts in 2013 were the following:

  1. Florida – 1,310 thefts
  2. California – 628 thefts
  3. Texas – 382 thefts
  4. Washington – 208 thefts
  5. Georgia – 182 thefts

The NICB also reported that the following types of vessels were stolen most frequently:

  1. Jet Skis – 1,215 thefts
  2. Runabouts – 871 thefts
  3. Utility – 363 thefts
  4. Cruisers – 214 thefts
  5. Sailboats – 44 thefts

The report further explained that 63% of all watercraft thefts occurred between April and September.  The most common day of the week for theft is Friday, and the peak month is July.  A Yamaha Jet Ski is the most likely watercraft to be stolen.  Fewer than 1 in 3 Jet Skis are recovered, while sailboat recovery is at about 64%.  With nearly 300 vessels stolen, Miami-Dade County had the most thefts in Florida.  Palm Beach County was listed in the top six counties in Florida with 46 thefts. 

How to keep your vessel safe from theft:

  • Disable the boat when it is not in use by shutting off fuel lines.
  • Remove registration or title papers from the vessel.
  • Mark your boat and equipment with the vessel’s Hull Identification Number (HIN).
  • Use a trailer-hitch lock after parking the boat on a trailer.
  • Park the boat and trailer in a locked garage, well-lit fenced area or reputable storage facility.
  • Chain and lock outboard motors to the boat.
  • Do not leave keys in the vessel.
  • Always carry marine insurance, including equipment, trailer and vessel insurance.

What to do if your boat is stolen:

If you find out your boat is stolen, immediately call your insurance company. If for some reason the insurance company denies or disclaims coverage, or if you have stored your boat in a facility that was negligent in their security, you should call a maritime attorney who has experience with insurance transactions.

Protecting your vessel is important.  Using simple and inexpensive theft-prevention devices or common sense can make the difference between spending the day on the water verses spending the day talking to your boat insurance claims department.

Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net by samuiblue

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