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MARTIN COUNTY — It’s the season for boats, and the season for thefts from boats.
“We know that this is the summer, and people are buying boats … we traditionally become more alert to boat parts thefts and such throughout this time of year,” Sheriff William Snyder said.
He said he’s trying to prevent as many thefts from boats as possible.
Records from the Sheriff’s Office indicate detectives investigated 20 burglaries from boats in 2019 and 18 cases in 2020.
Three have been reported so far this year.
Thieves usually strip boats of equipment such as panels, motors and lower units, the sheriff said. In every reported theft since 2019, at least one boat motor was taken. Other items include sports and computer equipment, bicycles, wallets, generators, tools and wet suits
Boat owners said burglars usually target smaller parts of the boats because they are easier to carry.
“It’s really devastating, a lot of people don’t have insurance on their boats, especially if they’re older ones,” said J.J. Klarmann, of Stuart, who runs a fishing charter business. “Now-a-days everyone’s just buying new engines instead of fixing the old ones, so all these old boats have these new engines on them that are really easy to steal.”
People who specialize in boat insurance and theft prevention said many boat parts are often untraceable.
“Targets are often lower units,” said Peter Tyson, who owns a marine and aviation insurance company. “Yamahas and Suzuki don’t have serial numbers on those parts, so they go out the door pretty quick.
Boat owners can take many preventative measures.
Klarmann said owners can use locks, lights and Ring surveillance cameras to prevent theft.
“Ring doorbells … you can just hook one right up to your boat with a solar panel,” Klarmann said. “It alerts you right away when someone’s near it.”
Snyder said owners should keep serial numbers of their parts so they can report it.
Carolyn Stash, CEO of Atlas Trax, said her company develops satellite tracking devices boat-owners can install in their parts.
If thieves sound off an alarm while stealing something, the sheriff said his deputies can apprehend them in the act.
But the thefts must be reported. Snyder said he’s noticed a decline in reported thefts.
Mauricio La Plante is a breaking news reporter for TCPalm focusing on Martin County. Follow him on Twitter @mslaplantenews or email him at Mauricio.LaPlante@tcpalm.com.