Sheriff’s Office sees uptick in marine thefts

The Sheriff’s Office is urging anglers, divers and boaters to stow their gear and lock up their valuables as we’re seeing an uptick in marine-related thefts in the Upper Keys.

This is the time of year we generally see an increase in such incidents. Note: This year thieves appear to be targeting YETI® coolers. Owners are urged to place identifying marks on coolers and removing them from boats.

We are doing all we can to keep these crimes in check, but 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. We would much rather crime be prevented.

Tips for keeping your property safe:

  • 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 purposes.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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. Callers who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers at 1-866-471-8477. Tipsters can remain anonymous and if a tip leads to an arrest in the case, the caller may be eligible for a cash reward. Tips may also be submitted online at www.floridakeyscrimestoppers.com or via a text message using the smartphone app called P3 Phone. Tips can also be submitted via social media such as Facebook, Instagram or Twitter using the @CrimeStoppers305 hashtag.