Boat Security and Preventing Tailgate Thefts

Boat Theft Prevention

When Buying a Boat:

  • Be careful, 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
  • 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 broker licensed by the state
  • If the price seems too good to be true, there is a good chance the boat is stolen

Equipment Identification:

  • Mark all equipment when purchased
  • If your boat was built before 1971, 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

Trailer-able 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 a trailer tongue not easily accessible
  • Park another vehicle or large object in front of the trailer
  • Remove one trailer wheel
  • Purchase a good quality trailer hitch lock and use it even 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:

  • Local law enforcement agencies
  • Your insurance company
  • FWC
  • The dock or harbormaster
  • Neighboring boaters
  • Local newspapers

Preventing Tailgate Thefts:

Tailgates can be easily damaged and dented from collisions, as well as from hauling heavy loads. Replacement tailgates are in high demand and can be purchased from dealers and auto part stores. A tailgate that is outfitted with a backup camera and other electronics can cost thousands of dollars to replace. The high cost of replacing tailgates has fueled a black-market demand. Stolen tailgates can end up on sites such as Ebay and Craigslist for resale. Other tailgates end up at scrap dealers as the rising cost of metal has made it lucrative to sell these parts.

Pickup truck tailgate thefts are on the rise in South Florida, and criminals are making a pretty good living stealing tailgates. A standard unlocked tailgate takes less than 30 seconds to remove without the use of complicated tools.

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), Florida ranks 4th in the nation for tailgate thefts. All makes and models of pickup trucks can be targeted for this type of theft. The NICB advised that the Ford F150 and 250's experienced the most thefts, however all pickup trucks are targets.

To help deter thieves, there are numerous anti-theft tailgate locking devices available. These devices lock the hinge mechanism and can either have a manual or electronic locking component. Electronic locks secure the tailgate when the rest of the doors are locked. Manual locks require the vehicle owner use a key to manually lock the component. These precautions may help deter thieves from stealing pickup truck tailgates. What can you do to prevent your tailgate from being stolen?

  • Use the integrated tailgate lock that your vehicle is equipped with. If the trucks tailgate can't be opened, it can't be stolen.
  • Park the truck in a well-lit area or under a motion activated light, thieves like to operate in the dark for concealment.
  • Back the truck up against a fence, building or vehicle, this prevents room for the tailgate to open and space for the thief to work.
  • Etch the trucks vehicle I.D. number (V.I.N.) some place on the tailgate, this could help identify the tailgate if it is stolen and recovered.

There are also some products that can be installed to help prevent thefts. A quick search on the internet shows several different products for sale that could help deter a theft. The most common products look like hose clamps and are attached to the lift gate cables or where the tailgate hinges to the truck body.

Remember, most vehicle alarms will not be triggered by removing a tailgate. If your truck's alarm has a shock sensor turn it to the most sensitive setting. This may cause the alarm to activate if the tailgate is opened.

If you see any suspicious vehicles or persons in your neighborhood, please do not hesitate to contact the Palm Springs Police Department at (561) 584-8300 ext. 8540.

Tailgate Lock
Lock placed around hinge

Tailgate Lock
Lock placed around hinge

Hose Clamp Tailgate Lock
Hose clamp placed around hinge

Electric tailgate lock
Electric lock with view of internal component