Washingtonians love their boats.
So do thieves.
The state is fifth in the nation for boat thefts, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau. Florida had the most, followed by California, Texas and North Carolina.
Victims have only a 50 percent of chance of seeing their stolen vessels again.
The top five types of stolen craft lead off with personal watercraft (the “jet ski” category), followed by runabout, utility, cruiser and sailboat.
Many stolen boats are resold to unsuspecting consumers.
Before buying a boat, inspect it and review its paperwork. Make sure the Hull Identification Numbers all match.
And watch for these potential fraud indicators:
• The boat has been rebuilt, previously reported stolen, sunk or recovered.
• The title or proof of ownership is a duplicate or from another state.
• Registration numbers appear altered or are not uniform in appearance.
• The asking price is too good to be true.
Insurance, similar to that bought for cars and trucks, can protect from theft, loss and liability.
According to the Crime Bureau, homeowners and renters insurance protection typically extends to small vessels: canoes, kayaks and power boats with less than 25 horsepower.
It offers limited coverage — typically between $1,000 and $2,000 — for damage to the watercraft.
Protecting your boat from theft
• Mark your boat and equipment with the vessel’s Hull Identification Number (HIN), a 12-character serial number that identifies your boat.
• Engrave your driver’s license number in a hidden location on the boat as well as on its engine, ship-to-shore radio, depth sounder, compass stereo, trailer and other expensive components.
• Take photos or videotape your boat, its HIN and equipment for documentation and identification.
• When docking your watercraft, lock and secure it to the dock with a steel cable.
• Remove expensive equipment when your boat is not in use.
• Chain and lock detachable motors to the boat.
• Keep title or registration papers somewhere safe — not in your boat — when docked.
• Disable your boat by shutting off 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.
Source: National Insurance Crime Bureau and NW Insurance Council.