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National Insurance Crime Bureau

Boat Thefts Continue to Sink

The National Insurance Crime Bureau's (NICB) 2017 watercraft theft report shows a five percent decrease and resumes the downward trend in thefts that was broken by 2016's slight increase. A total of 4,864 watercraft were reported stolen between January 1 and December 31, 2017. 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 in descending order were:

The top five manufacturers for watercraft thefts in descending order were:

Most thefts in 2017 occurred during the months of May, June, July, August and September with June recording the highest number with 628. December saw the fewest with 222.

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 425 thefts would include pre-2003 models.

Anyone with information concerning insurance fraud or vehicle theft can report it anonymously by calling toll-free 800.TEL.NICB (800.835.6422) or submitting a form on our website.

About the National Insurance Crime Bureau: Headquartered in Des Plaines, Ill., the NICB is the nation's leading not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to combatting and preventing insurance crime through Intelligence, Analytics, and Operations; Education and Crime Prevention; and Strategy, Policy, and Advocacy. The NICB is supported by more than 1,200 property and casualty insurance companies and self-insured organizations. NICB member companies wrote over $530 billion in insurance premiums in 2020, or more than 82% of the nation's property-casualty insurance. That includes more than 95% ($236 billion) of the nation's personal auto insurance. To learn more, visit www.nicb.org.