How to Secure Your Boat Trailer from Theft

How to Secure Your Boat Trailer from Theft

There is nothing more devastating than investing a lot of money on your dreamboat and trailer only for some crook to come and steal it. 

It will ruin your soul even more when you have spent lots of time, money and sweat customizing the boat to make it exactly what you want. 

And while there are thousands of cases of stolen boats cases in the US, many boat owners still don’t take the necessary precautions. 

When thieves steal your boat and the trailer, they are likely to repaint and sell them at a decent amount of money, especially if the vessels are still in great condition. 

So, what can you do to protect your boat trailer? Are there any effective ways to prevent boat theft? 

Well, you may not have much control over whether your vessels become the opportunists’ next target, but you can make it harder for them to steal it. 

In this article, we’ll talk about some of the most effective ways to secure your boat trailer from theft. 

10 Effective Strategies Boat Owners Can Use to Secure Their Boats from Theft

10 Effective Strategies Boat Owners Can Use to Secure Their Boats from Theft

Before I get started on these strategies, I’d love to give a quick clarification. These methods aren’t a 100% guarantee of your boat’s safety as some thieves can be very shrewd. 

Crafty thieves can work really hard and bring all sorts of tools when determined to get away with a particular vessel, no matter how protected it seems.

However, these anti-theft strategies are indeed effective in reducing the chances of a thief succeeding in stealing your boat trailer. 

So, let’s get on it!

Secure the Trailer Coupler with a Hitch or Tongue Lock

Your trailer’s coupler is one of the weakest points that the bad guys target when trying to get away with a boat. 

So, you need to secure it well with the right type of lock, and there is no better way to do it than to use a heavy-duty hitch or tongue lock. 

I have been using the Megahitch Lock Coupler Vault Pro for the past few years, and there is nothing to complain about it so far. 

It’s a strong lock that comes in two parts to fit above and under your trailers’ coupler, creating a stout locked box for your boat trailer security. 

With this type of lock, the thief would have a difficult job and bring some intense machinery in trying to unlock the trailer and attach it to their vehicle. 

While the sturdy lock is a little bit expensive, it’s absolutely worth the money when a scandalous thief can steal your precious boat and trailer.

Another heavy-duty lock is the AMPLOCK U-BRU2 Boat Trailer Lock, specifically designed to fit a 2-inches coupler. 

It’s built with durable materials such as ducted cast iron and stainless steel, which make it resistant to rust and corrosion in all climates. 

This coupler lock will certainly ease your anxiety and fear that someone might steal your boat trailer. 

Nonetheless, there are many other trailer coupler locks out there. If you are working on a low budget, you can try the Reese Towpower72783 Coupler Lock

This lock features a simple design that makes it difficult for a vehicle to hitch to your boat trailer. Thieves eying your trailer will see the conspicuous lock and walk away without a second thought.

The bright lock also features an adjustable ratchet design with more than 10 locking positions. This makes it an ideal deterrent lock for a wide variety of boat trailers. 

Use a Trailer Wheel Lock 

If you want your hitch or tongue lock to be even more effective, you can pair it with a trailer wheel lock. 

A wheel lock will clump the wheels perfectly, making it hard for a thief to move a trailer forward or drive away with it. 

Just like the tongue locks, trailer wheel locks come in different designs, and there is a wide range of options out there. 

If you want something effective and secure, I’d recommend that you go for high-end options that can cover the wheel lugs fully. 

For those looking for cheaper solutions, a low budget option like the Coocheer Anti-Theft Wheel Lock Clamp will still do the job. 

This wheel lock is designed with an in-built anti-theft needle that pierces the wheel if anyone tries to move it, making it extremely difficult for the thief to drive the trailer away. 

While the wheel boot may not be anywhere near the commercial types used by parking companies, it still suffices when paired with a hitch or tongue lock. 

Invest in a Chain and Lock for the Trailer Wheel 

Invest in a Chain and Lock for the Trailer Wheel

This is yet another relatively effective method you can use to secure your boat trailer and deter theft.

You just need to invest in a heavy-duty chain and run it through the wheels and the round of the trailer frame before locking it with a padlock. 

Once you lock your boat trailer this way, an opportunistic thief will have to think twice before attempting to unlock the trailer and driving off. 

However, you should keep in mind that this method isn’t entirely safe and cannot be used alone since even a bolt cutter can easily beat this strategy. 

To remediate the risk, try to look for a case hardened chain as it would make it quite hard to cut off with mere bolt cutters. 

Chain and locks kits are available online, and one of the best ones is the Vulcan Security Chain and Lock Kit, which is nearly impossible to cut with burglary tools.

Many people who buy this case hardened chain and lock kit usually give positive feedback after using it. 

Although I would not recommend that you use this method alone as a way to secure your assets from boat trailer theft, it would still help if you don’t want to spend lots of money trying to protect your trailer. 

Remove the Trailer Wheel

If you don’t plan to use your boat trailer anytime soon, this method is perfect for deterring opportunistic thieves. 

This is a very effective strategy for someone leaving their boat unattended for an extended period of time, and it won’t cost you any money. 

So, if you don’t have the money to buy locks, clamps, or chains, you might just want to stow away the wheels, and that will be all. 

The only downside of this method is that you will have to remove both trailer wheels to avoid overloading them on one side. 

One thing to bear in mind when removing the trailer wheels, don’t throw them into the boat no matter how well covered it is. 

Any burglar can easily pop the wheels back on and drive off with your trailer. Instead, you can keep them inside your house or any other concealed place. 

Install an Alarm

Pull cord alarm systems are incredibly cheap and available online. You can get a pin style or magnetic pull cord alarm to secure your boat trailer from theft. 

And while they are built for medical reasons, they also provide adequate boat trailer security. 

The good thing about pull cord alarms is that they are battery-powered, so it won’t be a problem if your boat store doesn’t have an electrical point. 

However, it’s one thing to power the pull cord alarm and another to keep it alive. Keep in mind that the battery can die, and it only works when the battery has a charge. 

So, you’ll need to keep the batteries alive to ensure that the pin pulls out and triggers the ring soon as the trailer starts moving. 

Otherwise, it won’t start sounding when the trailer moves. In other words, a thief will easily walk away with the boat without you noticing. 

If you have your regular locks on and want to improve your boat trailer’s security, you can install the Drive Pull Cord Alarm under the trailer to deter dedicated thieves. 

Other types of alarms that can let you know when someone tampers with your boat trailer include motion sensor alarms and braid cables. 

They are also very affordable and will let you know when someone tampers with your boat trailer. 

Set Battery Motion Lights 

Set Battery Motion Lights 

Are you looking for an effective way to deter thieves? You cannot go wrong with motion lights. 

Anyone trying to do something scandalous will change their mind when suddenly illuminated in light. 

What’s more exciting about motion lights is that they do not require any wiring. So, depending on where you store your boat trailer, you can easily take them with you. 

One of the best motion-sensing lights that many boat owners use to deter thieves is the Mr Beams Wireless Motion Lights

These lights are available in twin packs and are designed to detect movement up to 12 –feet away from the trailer. 

One more intriguing thing about motion-sensing lights is that they are weather-resistant, so you don’t have to worry about installing them on an external wall. 

Preventative Parking

The best way to prevent boat theft is by bringing your boat trailer to a safe parking place, such as your home or a well-lit area near where you stay. 

However, sometimes it may not be possible to bring your boat home, especially when using the boat often. 

This is where defensive parking comes into play. If your tow vehicle is safe, you can reverse the boat trailer up against a fence, wall, or tree.

Defensive parking will make the boat harder to move or attach to the thieves’ towing vehicle. 

Nonetheless, there is usually a problem when using this boat security method. It’s not always possible to park preventatively, depending on where the tow vehicle is. 

And if you parked near a launch site, it may be hard to achieve defensive parking as you don’t want to block other boat owners. 

Connect the Trailer to a Land Anchor 

While connecting your boat trailer to a land anchor is not fool-proof, it does a great job when it comes to keeping thieves off your boat trailer. 

If you park your boat in your backyard or near a green garden, it should be easy to bolt a ground anchor deep into the ground. 

Then tether your boat trailer with a chain or a solid braided cable onto the screw. This strategy is super easy and will definitely deter thieves who attempt to steal your boat. 

If you want to be more confident when securing your boat with this method, you can install a few anchor hooks. 

But you might need a professional to help with the installation process. 

Overall, land anchors are great solutions for securing a boat trailer from theft, but it may not be the best standalone solution.

You can pair it with other security methods like those explained above to make it more effective. 

Install a CCTV System 

Security cameras are super affordable and accessible these days. You can get a pair for about a hundred dollars or so and install it yourself. 

You can set up two cameras in the boat storage area to have a full view of the boat all the time. 

While having a CCTV camera will not deter thieves from targeting your trailer, it may help in the retrieval process if a robber gets away with it. 

And if a burglar tries to unlock your boat and fails, you have enough evidence to help detect the criminal and make him pay for it. 

I love the Hiseeu Wireless Battery Powered Camera as it features two-way audio and PIR motion detection. 

It makes a nice set for boat and trailer security as you can talk to a robber who attempts to steal your vessel to deter them from continuing. 

It can also be wise to set up a warning and let the opportunistic thieves know that your boat is under surveillance round the clock. 

Robbers who want an easy target won’t risk stealing your boat and trailer as they might be identified, caught, and put behind bars. 

Install a Live GPS Tracker 

Install a Live GPS Tracker 

This is a final measure that can help you get your boat and trailer back if your preventive strategies do not work and the boat still gets stolen. 

It’s simply an additional backup for your boat’s security but will definitely reduce your anxiety and give you peace of mind. 

Live GPS tracking devices have also been significantly reduced in price today, and they are available in many online stores like Amazon. 

They are easy to install and work very well. All you need to do is set it in a clever hiding place inside your boat or trailer and activate it. 

Some advanced GPS tracking devices will even allow you to set up security zones. So, when your boat is in a storage facility, and you don’t plan to use it soon, you can set up a zone in your home. 

When someone tries to steal your boat, the GPS asset tracker will notify you through the app and show precisely where the boat is being taken. 

Overall, a live GPS tracker is an essential device for every boat owner. If you don’t have a tracking device on your watercraft yet, consider getting it soon before it’s too late. 

One of the best-rated live GPS trackers to buy on Amazon is the AMERICALOC 300 Real-Time GPS Tracker, which has the longest battery life. 

If you want a smaller and cheaper option, the Tracki 4G LTE Mini GPS Tracker has all the good things you might want in a tracking device. 



Q: How Do I Stop Someone Stealing My Boat?

A: There are several effective ways to prevent boat theft, including storing your boat in a locked garage or keeping it in a secure storage facility. 

If you store your boat outside, you can use a hitch lock or wheel lock and install other safety devices like motion detecting alarms and an outdoor security camera. 

Motion sensing lights are also an effective theft deterrent as they abruptly scare away burglars. 

As previously mentioned, Live GPS trackers are vital devices for protecting boats and trailers as they let the owner know the location of their boats. 

Generally, the key to the boat’s safety is using more locks made with hardened steel or cast iron to make it difficult for thieves to unlock it. 

In a worst-case scenario, you can add an extra layer of security by removing the outboard motor and license plates before locking the boat. 

Having photos of the various parts of your boat and trailer will also come in handy when proving ownership. 

You may also want to document various details, including the boat’s hull identification number, serial numbers, and decal numbers, as your insurance company might ask for evidence. 

Q: How Do You Lock Up a Trailer?

A: To lock up a trailer, you can use a removable tongue or hitch lock. Be sure to choose hardened locks made with sturdy materials, so they are not easily picked. 

To prevent theft, you can also add more security devices to the hitch assembly like wheel locks, spare tire locks, GPS trackers, alarms, and motion-sensing lights. 

Q: What Do Thieves Do with Stolen Boat Trailers?

A: Most thieves will turn a stolen boat and trailer into cash as soon as possible. Once they strip the boat’s serial numbers and repaint the boat, it becomes hard to recognize your vessel anymore.

In most cases, stolen boats are hard to retrieve, especially those left without a tracking device. 

They usually sell them in states or parts of the country that do not call for trailer titling or registration. 

Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

As science and technology advance, the tricks and strategies of scandalous thieves are getting more and more sophisticated. 

So, it’s up to you as the boat owner to protect your valuable assets and make it hard or even impossible for scumbags to steal your watercraft and trailer. 

You can combine some of the methods discussed above to tighten your boat’s security. It may cost you hundreds of dollars, but it’s definitely cheaper than replacing your pontoon boat and trailer. 

Most of the approaches discussed above will work well, but it’s never a bad idea to have more than one security method for your precious assets. 

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Lisa Hayden-Matthews

Lisa Hayden-Matthews

An avid Skier, bike rider, triathlon enthusiast, amateurish beach volleyball player and nature lover who has never lost a dare! I manage the overall Editorial section for the magazine here and occasionally chip in with my own nature photographs, when required.

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