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Marine related thefts are on the rise; keep your property safe

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Posted: Monday, April 2, 2018 12:30 am

The Upper Keys have seen a recent increase in outboard boat engine thefts. Thieves are targeting all sizes and makes, but mostly Yamaha and in one case, a Mercury. Fenced-in lots have not been a deterrent in some cases as criminals are cutting their way onto private property. In each case, steering cables, fuel lines and wiring harnesses are cleanly severed.

The Sheriff’s Office and other local law enforcement agencies are working hard to catch the people who are committing these crimes. We are doing all we can to keep these crimes in check. We can’t do it alone. We need your help. Like most property crimes, marine related thefts are primarily crimes of opportunity. If you provide the opportunity, a thief will take advantage of it. If you take away the opportunity or at least make theft more difficult, the thief will generally move on and victimize someone else. We would much rather a crime be prevented, whether it be theft of an entire boat, an engine, a lower unit, electronics from on board, or diving and fishing equipment.

Here are a few tips for keeping your property safe:

• Remove the keys from the boat; if it is on a lift, turn the breaker off in the house to disable it.

• Install motion sensor lights. Make sure areas around the boat are well lighted.

• Install surveillance cameras and make sure they will capture the face of an intruder. Cameras are often installed too high and only capture the top of a suspect’s head or the brim of the hat he is wearing.

• Whether on a trailer or in a canal, make sure your boat can be seen by neighbors and/or deputies patrolling the neighborhood.

• Remove the steering wheel if the boat won’t be used for a long time.

• Install a GPS tracking device on your boat and/or engines.

• Install a boat alarm. Alarms are very effective at preventing equipment and boat thefts.

• Disconnect the batteries to disable the trim/tilt function. Keep the engine down, touching the ground so the lower unit can’t be removed.

• If the boat is on a trailer, chain the rims together or boot one of the wheels to prevent the entire boat and trailer from being stolen.

• Keep a trailer hitch lock on at all times.

• Install bolt locks on the engine or put extra-long engine bolts on and bend the ends.

• Destroy the threads on one bolt so the nut can’t be removed.

• Back the boat close to a house, wall, or other stationary object.

• Keep valuable electronics in a secure location. It might be a hassle, but it will save you thousands of dollars in the long run.

• Engrave your driver’s license number or make a distinctive marking on your valuable property for identification.

• Take pictures and record serial numbers if available.

• Don’t leave fishing and diving equipment unattended outside It only takes a thief a minute – literally – to take it.

• If you are gone for an extended period, call your local Sheriff’s Office substation. Our deputies will keep an eye on your property while you are away.

Important: If you see anything suspicious call the Sheriff’s Office immediately! It is our job to check out suspicious activity. Your call may be the one that helps us catch the bad guys! Call 911 if a crime is taking place; call 305-289-2351 if you see something you think may be suspicious. Call Crime Stoppers with any crime tips: 1-800-346-TIPS or text 274637 using the keyword TIP136. Submit tips online at

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