NICB: Watercraft theft down 6 percent in 2013, PWC still top targets

Publish Date: 
May 19, 2014
By Holly J. Wagner

DES PLAINES, Ill. – Personal watercraft remain the most-stolen marine vehicles in the country, despite a 6 percent decline in watercraft thefts overall for 2013, according to a report released today by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB).

While the report covers all types of consumer marine vehicles, the largest theft category is personal watercraft at 1,215 thefts. The top three slots were Yamaha WaveRunner (457 thefts), Bombardier/BRP Sea-Doo (442 thefts), Kawasaki Jet Ski (146 thefts) and Polaris, which stopped making watercraft in 2004 (72 thefts).

Overall, there were 5,537 watercraft thefts reported during 2013, a 6 percent decrease from the 5,870 thefts reported in 2012. On the up side, there was a 1 percent increase in watercraft recoveries.

Excluding 1,326 vehicles in the “all other” category, the top five stolen vehicle types comprised 49 percent (2,707) of all 2013 watercraft thefts, and personal watercraft were nearly half of those. PWC had the lowest recovery rate of 32 percent, with 394 out of 1,215 thefts recovered by April 3, 2014.

The report examines watercraft reported stolen between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2013, drawing from data contained in the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database for all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Of the 4,089 records with NCIC-recognized boat codes, 32 percent were identified as “all other.”

The top five states for watercraft thefts in descending order were: Florida (1,310), California (628), Texas (382), Washington (208) and Georgia (182). No watercraft thefts were reported from Hawaii and the District of Columbia.

Of the 2,195 recovered watercrafts, all but 33, or 98 percent, were recovered in the same state where they were stolen. Of the 33 watercrafts recovered in a different state, 28 were recovered in a state that shares a border with the theft state and 4 were recovered within 3 states of the theft state. The last recovered watercraft was found in a location that was more than 3 states away from the theft state.

On average, there were 15 watercraft thefts per day, 106 per week, or 461 per month in 2013. Most thefts occurred during the spring and summer months with July recording the highest number with 691.

February recorded the fewest with 260. Fridays saw the most thefts reported with 884, and the fewest were reported on Thursdays with 719.

The top five types of watercraft stolen in 2013 were in identical order to last year’s report. In first place was PWC category, followed by runabout (871), utility (363), cruiser (214) and sailboat (44).

Of the 3,593 stolen watercraft that identified a propulsion type, 53 percent had outboard propulsion, 34 percent had inboard propulsion. The remaining 13 percent with a known propulsion type were manual, sail only, sail only with auxiliary outboard power, or sail only with auxiliary inboard power.

Download the complete report HERE.