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U.S. Watercraft Thefts Resume Downward Trend

5 percent drop in 2017 offsets 2016’s minor increase

DES PLAINES, Ill., May 16, 2018 — The National Insurance Crime Bureau’s (NICB) 2017 watercraft theft report shows a 5 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 Jan. 1 and Dec. 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:

  State Thefts Recovery Rate
1 Florida 1,163 34%
2 California 488 54%
3 Texas 410 36%
4 North Carolina 158 35%
5 Washington 156 39%

 

The top five cities for thefts in descending order were:

  City Thefts Recovery Rate
1 Miami 208 29%
2 Tampa, Fla. 81 25%
3 Fort Lauderdale, Fla. 77 30%
4 Sacramento, Calif. 51 45%
5 Largo, Fla. 46 35%

 

The top five types of watercraft stolen in descending order were:

  Watercraft Type* Thefts Recovery Rate
1 Personal Watercraft 1,180 27%
2 Runabout 618 43%
3 Utility 285 38%
4 Cruiser 185 56%
5 Sailboat 41 56%

 

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

  Manufactuer Thefts Recovery Rate
1 Yamaha Motor Corp., USA 620 24%
2 Bombardier Corp.** 425 37%
3 Kawasaki Motors Mfg. 150 25%
4 Bass Tracker Corp. 116 41%
5 Alumacraft Boat Co. 116 32%

 

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.

Media Contact

If you have a question, want further information on the NICB, or to discuss insurance fraud or vehicle crime, please contact:

Frank Scafidi
Director of Public Affairs
916.979.1510
fscafidi@nicb.org

Or, if you are a reporter and have a request or question, please complete the Media Request Form.

Anyone with information concerning insurance fraud or vehicle theft can report it anonymously by calling toll-free 800.TEL.NICB (800.835.6422), texting keyword “fraud” to TIP411 (847411) or submitting a form on our website. Or, download the NICB Fraud Tips app on your iPhone or Android device.

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 preventing, detecting and defeating insurance fraud and vehicle theft through data analytics, investigations, training, legislative advocacy and public awareness. The NICB is supported by more than 1,100 property and casualty insurance companies and self-insured organizations. NICB member companies wrote over $461 billion in insurance premiums in 2017, or more than 81 percent of the nation's property/casualty insurance. That includes more than 95 percent ($218 billion) of the nation's personal auto insurance. To learn more visit www.nicb.org.