Watercraft theft sinks 6 percent in 2014

DES PLAINES, Ill. – The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) reports that watercraft theft continues to drop. NICB has offers the watercraft report and an infographic to support this data.

NICB’s annual report looks at watercraft theft and recoveries in the United States, and examines watercraft* reported stolen between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2014. The report is based on data from the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database for all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Overall, there were 5,181 watercraft thefts reported during 2014, a six percent decrease from 2013 when 5,537 thefts were recorded.  This is the second year in a row that watercraft thefts have dropped six percent; the number of thefts in 2012 was 5,870.

The top five states for thefts in descending order were:

  State Thefts Recovery Rate
1 Florida 1,290 36%
2 California 507 52%
3 Texas 386 40%
4 Washington 201 53%
5 North Carolina 169 37%

No watercraft thefts were reported from Hawaii or the District of Columbia.

The top five types of watercraft stolen in 2014 were:

  Watercraft Type* Thefts Recovery Rate
1 Personal Watercraft 1,121 39%
2 Runabout 755 50%
3 Utility 325 45%
4 Cruiser 186 50%
5 Sailboat 49 53%

The top five manufacturers for watercraft thefts were:

  Manufacturer Thefts Recovery Rate
1 Yamaha 547 37%
2 Bombardier Corp.** 509 39%
3 Kawasaki Motor Mfg. 138 35%
4 Alumacraft Boat Co. 116 29%
5 Bass Tracker Corp. 100 37%

On average, there were approximately 14 watercraft thefts per day, 100 per week or 432 per month in 2014. Most thefts occurred during the spring and summer months with July recording the highest number with 667. February recorded the fewest with 223.

Boat owners are reminded to practice safe and smart boating. That includes personal safety while on the water, as well as theft prevention.

NICB recommends the following tips to protect your watercraft from theft:

  • When you “dock it, lock it” and secure it to the dock with a steel cable
  • Remove expensive equipment when not in use
  • Chain and lock detachable motors to the boat
  • Do not leave title or registration papers in the craft
  • Disable the craft by shutting fuel lines or removing batteries
  • Use a trailer hitch lock after parking a boat on its trailer
  • Install a kill switch in the ignition system
  • Ensure your marine insurance policy includes your equipment, boat and trailer
  • Take photos of the boat and mark it with a Hull Identification Number (HIN)

More anti-theft information can be found at nicb.org.

*Described below are the 13 watercraft types as found in the NCIC code manual, one of which is “Jet Ski” — NCIC’s universal name for all personal watercraft without regard to manufacturer. Jet Ski is also the registered trademark for Kawasaki Motor Corporation’s line of personal watercraft.

Airboat: not defined
Commercial: ferry, oyster boat, motor barge, towboat, tug, clam dredge, coaster, riverboat, smack boat, etc.
Cruiser: a boat with an inboard motor that is at least 25 feet long, but no longer than 50 feet
Houseboat: not defined
Hovercraft: not defined
Hydrofoil: not defined
Hydroplane: not defined
Jet-Ski: aqua bike
Runabout: launch, motorboat, outrider, speedboat, etc.
Sailboat: cat, catamaran, cutter, bark, ketch, lateen, lugger, pinnace, schooner, sloop, yawl, etc.
Utility: fisherman, sedan, etc.
Yacht: a boat with an inboard motor that is more than 50 feet long and is used mainly for pleasure or recreation
All other: canoe, dinghy, dory, johnboat, kayak, lifeboat, paddleboat, rowboat, skull, skiff, etc.

**In 2003, Bombardier Corp. sold off its recreational products division. The Sea-Doo personal watercraft is now produced by Bombardier Recreational Products, Inc. Thus, the 509 thefts would include pre-2003 models manufactured by Bombardier Corp. as well as 2003 and later models manufactured by Bombardier Recreational Products, Inc.

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