Nearly 1,400 PWCs reported stolen in 2012, Crime Bureau reports

Publish Date: 
Aug 5, 2013

DES PLAINES, Ill. – Personal watercraft (PWC) units again led the field in watercraft thefts for 2012, although watercraft thefts of all types were down from 2011, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB).

NICB released its latest report on boat theft and recoveries in the United States. The report examines watercraft reported stolen between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2012, and draws from data contained in the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database for all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Overall, there were 5,870 watercraft thefts reported during the period, a 3 percent decrease from the 6,070 thefts reported in 2011.

Most thefts were reported on Fridays (932) with the fewest being reported on Thursdays (764).

NICB provides the following recommendations to help customers protect their 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 watercraft ignition system

The top five states for thefts were identical in rank order to the previous report. Florida led with 1,408 thefts followed by, in descending order, California (605), Texas (403), Washington (214) and North Carolina (184). Hawaii and Wyoming each reported one theft while the District of Columbia had none.

Also repeating in identical order were the top-five boat types for theft. In first place was PWC with 1,373 thefts. It was followed by runabout (937), utility (360), cruiser (251) and sailboat (42).

Of the brands stolen most often, BRC topped the list at 355, followed by Kawasaki (226), Tracker Marine LP (211) and Alumacraft Boat Co. (133). Tracker Marine is new to the list for 2012, replacing Bayliner Marine.

On average, there were 16 watercraft thefts per day, 112 per week, or 489 per month in 2012. But the most theft activity occurs, as expected, during the spring and summer months. July saw the highest number of reported thefts (739) and February had the fewest (273). 

Download the complete report and watch a video on boat thefts.

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.