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I once innocently watched as my neighbor’s pair of PWC were stolen right out of their driveway. I was working in my home office, with a window looking across the street toward their slightly obscured driveway. What I saw was a nice, new-model SUV pull into their house, followed by a few minutes of time out of sight. Next thing I noticed that nice SUV was towing their Sea-Doos down the street.
I didn’t think for a second it was a theft. Their craft had been for sale for months. It was also about 10:30 in the morning, in broad daylight as the expression goes. All I thought was ‘hey, good for them, they finally sold their boats.” Then I turned back to the keyboard…until I saw the police pull in about a half hour later.
PWC theft is a problem, even in so-called nice neighborhoods, and even in broad daylight. My neighbor’s pair of craft were on a trailer, in the driveway, in full view for months. Eventually someone took notice, acted so casually and brazenly that few people would be suspicious, and just hooked them up and towed them away.
How to keep your craft from falling victim to the same fate, whether in your driveway or on the beach? Here’s a few suggestions.
Remove your lanyard, magnetic key, or activate your electronic lock
Thefts don’t have to be trailer and all, they can happen unattended at the beach, dock, restaurant, etc. Thankfully modern craft have a built-in deterrent in the form of the digitally encoded lanyard (on a Sea-Doo), removable magnetic key (on a Kawasaki) and electronic lock or keyfob (Yamaha). If you’re leaving your craft for even the briefest moment, remove or activate them. This simple step will prevent that quick crime of opportunity. No one will be able to start your craft, so no one will be able to quickly steal it. Taking this step also ensures curious kids won’t accidentally start your craft. Have an older model with no such security measures? Well then you better keep it within sight. At least remove the lanyard; that simple step will prevent all but the most determined thief from riding away.
When towing, secure your trailer to your hitch
When towing your craft, don’t just hook the hitch to the trailer ball and secure the catch with the included cotter pin. Use a good padlock or trailer-specific lock instead. Yes, a savvy thief can still potentially unbolt your trailer ball, but again, the idea is to not make it quick and easy. Unlocked, a thief can simply unhook your trailer from your car, hook it to theirs, and drive away. Locked, it’s a hassle. If it’s going to take time, most thieves will move on to an easier target.
Secure your hitch to your car
Don’t secure your trailer to the hitch, but forget to secure your hitch to your car as well. If it’s not a receiver hitch you’re good to go, but if it’s a receiver, swap out the simple bar and cotter pin for a keyed receiver hitch lock. That way a thief can’t simply pull the pin, remove your hitch from your vehicle and quickly get away with your craft, trailer…and a free receiver.
And…secure your craft to your trailer
Don’t think thieves won’t pick your craft right up off the trailer bunks if they’re left unattended and the opportunity arises. When not in use, or unattended while towing, lock your craft to your trailer in any way possible, whether it’s through the bow eye or rear tie-down rings. Run a quality cable lock through one of these points and around the trailer frame, or even heavy-duty chain with a padlock. Not to beat this theme to death, but again, the key is to just make things a little more difficult. The more trouble it looks like it will be to grab your craft, the less likely a thief will be to make the attempt.
Secure the whole setup whenever your craft/trailer combo is left in your garage or driveway
When not in use, most of us – like my unfortunate neighbor – leave their craft on the trailer in the driveway. A garage is better, but let’s be honest, not many of us can spare the room. When you have to leave the trailer outside, use a trailer coupler lock. These locks prevent the trailer from being lowered onto a trailer ball, effectively rendering the trailer unusable. If you want more security (highly recommended), also lock the trailer to a stationary object – tree, basketball pole, etc – in your yard or driveway. Don’t have one? It’s not out of the question to pour a small concrete pad near your trailer, with an eye or U-bolt set into the concrete. This setup then becomes a solid and heavy attachment point to anchor your trailer.
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