Thefts of boats in Connecticut rose slightly from 2012 to 2013, according to statistics from the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
Stolen boats can be big business.
Law enforcement tells Fox CT that some thieves are stealing boats, putting them in shipping containers and sending them to Europe.
Then, there are the small time crooks lifting gear from smaller boats.
Boater Mike Conklin says he’ll be spending the entire weekend on his boat – launched from Pier 76 Marina in Westbrook – and each night he’s sure to unload.
“I’m aware of it every time I leave. I bring everything out of my boat with me.”
Conklin is proactive, but many boaters will leave GPS devices, tackle boxes and even rods in their vessels.
“I’ve seen people that were hit by theft. So I don’t want to be a victim,” says Conklin.
In 2013, 37 Connecticut boats were reported stolen compared to just 31 in 2012.
Only 11 were recovered in 2012 and 15 in 2013.
Last fall, Jeff Thibodeau was witness to one of those thefts, after he put a deposit down on an $11,000 boat for sale in North Haven.
“They just came right in the middle of the night, took the trailer and the boat and police say they put them on containers and ship them overseas.”
Theft of boats is a serious issue but many boaters Fox CT talked to say another problem is items on the boats being taken, which is why they say that whenever they leave the boat for the day, they take everything with them.
“The possibility’s always there of being able to take smaller vessels that are usually easier to take – especially those that are on trailers,” says Sgt. Eric Lundin with DEEP Encon police.
He says that once a boat is gone, it’s usually gone for good.
“It’s probably going to be pretty tough to find the vessel,” Sgt. Lundin said.
Waking up without your boat can be quite a shock for owners, even Thibodeau, who had his future boat stolen before he even had the chance to pay.
“Everybody steals everything these days. But a whole boat on a trailer kind of surprised me.”
Some good news for boaters is that the state currently only requires a bill of sale to register a boat, but starting in 2016, an official title will be required, which could make things harder for would-be thieves.