It seems as though kayak theft has been on the rise in recent years. I know of a handful of kayaks that have “walked away” from docks, disappeared from yards, and been lifted off of car tops. Not even the kayak shop is safe; we had two brand new kayaks (still in bubble wrap) stolen a few years back right out from under our noses. Something must be done to stop these heinous crimes!
This post is my attempt to empower the masses and help put an end to kayak theft! Here are some simple ways to keep your kayak safe:
1) Make Record of Your Hull Identification Number
Every kayak is given a unique, 12-digit Hull Identification Number (HIN) in the factory. The HIN is usually etched somewhere on or near the stern (Note: it may be very lightly etched so it may take a little investigating and feeling around to locate it). Make record of your HIN and store this in a safe place. It can come in super handy for law enforcement if your kayak comes up stolen. Also, it’s important to have record of the HIN should you decide to sell your kayak someday and include it on a bill of sale when it is transferred to the new owner.
2) Hide Your Hull Number Somewhere Else on Your Kayak
Let’s face it…crooks can be pretty smart! Often times the first thing that they will do with your kayak when they return to their lair is to remove the HIN in order to make your kayak less identifiable to law enforcement. This is our chance to be smarter than the kayak crooks! Take some time to etch the HIN into another, more inconspicuous place on your kayak. Some of the best places include under your seat, on the underside of the deck right in front of your cockpit, or inside of a hatch. This gives you another opportunity to identify your kayak should law enforcement develop some leads.
3) Store Your Kayak In a Safe Place
Kayak crooks are out to make a quick buck and prefer to go after easy targets. Storing your kayak unlocked and/or in the nether-reaches of your property makes it an easier target for these opportunistic thieves. The safest place to store your kayak is inside a basement, garage or a locked shed. If you must store your kayak outside then choose a location that is close to your dwelling and out of sight from the road. Make use of those built-in security cleats to lock the kayak to a tree or post with a cable lock. The worst place to store your kayak is down by the water which offers the perfect opportunity for a crook to make a quick escape it. You should absolutely consider locking your kayak to your dock if you insist on keeping it there for the season!
4) Lock Your Kayak to Your Car
The most troubling kayak theft that I’ve experienced happened to an instructor friend. A brazen crook lifted his kayak right off of his truck in broad daylight in downtown Plymouth while he was at lunch! If the thief is reading this then let it be known that you’re an a**hole. That kayak was his livelihood and it took the better part of his hard-earned summers wages to replace it…
Anyway…this terrible event can serve as an important teaching point to the rest of us. If your kayak is on your car top then you would be very smart throw a lock on it before leaving it unattended. One of the best car-top kayak locks that I’ve seen out there is the Lasso Security Cable which has two loops that act to snare your kayak and prevent someone from sliding it off of your roof.
5) Don’t Buy Stolen Kayaks!
Off-loading stolen merchandise is an issue of supply and demand. We’ve taken steps to address the issue of supply and now we must deal with the issue of demand…
It’s our responsibility as consumers to be attentive to “red flags” and avoid purchasing stolen kayaks. The first “red flag” is a deal that is too good to be true; it always is! If someone is trying to sell you a used kayak at a price point that is way off of market value then chances are that the kayak is either stolen or broken. The second “red flag” is a missing HIN. If the kayak in question doesn’t have an HIN then be skeptical of the seller. If it’s clear that the HIN has been removed with a sander or grinder then what you are looking at is a stolen kayak. Don’t buy it and do right by reporting it!
6) Invest in Kayak Insurance
Most people who currently have an active homeowner’s policy are already insured for up to $1,500 (some companies $1,000 limit) for certain types of watercraft and accessories. This includes canoes, kayaks, row boats, and small sailboats. Read more in this article exploring the essentials of Insuring Your Kayak.
Together, we can prevent Kayak Theft!!!