Watercraft Thefts Up in 2016

Reflecting a similar experience with vehicles, the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s (NICB) annual watercraft theft report shows a one percent increase in watercraft theft in 2016, reversing a multi-year downward trend. A total of 5,116 watercraft were reported stolen between January 1 and December 31, 2016. The report is based on theft data contained in the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database for all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The top five states for thefts in descending order were:

The top five cities for thefts in descending order were:

The top five types of watercraft stolen were:

The top five manufacturers for watercraft thefts were:

Most thefts in 2016 occurred during the spring and summer months with July recording the highest number with 671. February recorded the fewest with 223.

Download the complete watercraft report and an infographic.

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 in our boat theft brochure.

* 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 (PWC): 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 383 thefts would include pre-2003 models.