Stolen Dinghies and Equipment

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The summer has brought the usual spate of stolen dinghies and associated equipment.  Take care when buying on eBay or elsewhere, that you do not unwittingly buy stolen equipment as this could be returned to the legitimate owner, leaving you out of pocket.

What can I do to avoid buying a stolen boat? 

Certain popular classes of sailing dinghy, such as the Laser and Topper, are prone to theft, because each boat is so similar. but unfortunately thefts are not limited to the popular "one design" classes.  There are a number of things that you as a buyer can check to avoid a stolen boat.

  1. All boats will have a unique hull identification number, check this number with the seller.  If it has been removed, be suspicious.  Once you have the hull ID number, have a look at the Stolen Boats web site to see if the boat, or a similar one, has been reported stolen. If a boat is not listed on the site it doesn't mean that it is not stolen.
  2. In most cases the Hull ID number should match the number on the sail, if it doesn't find out why.
  3. Before bidding, you should also satisfy yourself that the vendor is knowledgeable about the boat and has a legitimate reason for the sale. Ask one or two technical questions about the boat or its history.  If the answers are vague or just wrong, do some further investigation.
  4. Ask whether you could arrange to view the boat at the seller's home address and never in a car park or other public location.

I've bought a boat, how do I prevent it from being stolen?

Once you have bought a boat, the last thing you want is for it to be stolen.  Working for a boat insurance company, has enabled me to put together a list of practical suggestions that may help.

  1. If your boat is on a trailer, lock the trailer with a hitch-lock, wheel clamp or strong chain.
  2. Visibly mark each piece of equipment, with your name or the boat's sail number.
  3. Keep your equipment hidden beneath a cover, or take it home with you after sailing.
  4. Outboard engines should be locked to the boat, using special clamping locks. Alternatively remove the engine and place in locked storage.
  5. Get to know the other owners at your marina or sailing club and look out for one another. If you see any suspicious activity - report it.

Ultimately if a thief is determined to steal you boat or items from the boat, they will, so make sure that you have adequate insurance, that will pay out in the event of a claim.  For further details on how to do this, see Noble Marine's eBay page.


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