What can boat owners do to prevent theft? It’s hard to stop a determined thief, but you can reduce your chances of being targeted.

Take a look at your boat storage area. Is it lit at night? Does it have motion-operated lighting or audible alarms? How difficult is it to gain entry? Are there multiple points of entry? Does it have an effective, operational video-surveillance system? Does the storage facility signage advise that license plates are being recorded and the property is under 24-hour surveillance?

Slow thieves down. Are helm electronics locked behind a solid instrument cover? Use tamper-resistant fasteners for mounting electronics and outboard locking devices. Using a special nut with an engine-mounting bolt that requires a special key can help.

Make stealing expensive electronics less appealing. Engrave them and post a warning. (The same goes for the outboard.) Create an engine and electronics inventory list with manufacturer and serial number, take plenty of pictures of the boat and electronics, and store this documentation offsite.

Be wary of suspicious questions. In most boat dealership theft cases, a suspect posed as a boat shopper the day before the theft occurred. For boat owners, loose lips sink ships. Boaters should remain cautious to questions from strangers wanting to know more about access. Get to know your dockside neighbors so you can more readily recognize suspicious activity and people who don’t belong.

Consider adding a boat-tracking device. It can sound an early alarm if something’s amiss.

Help get the word out. If you are a victim of theft, ask your local law enforcement to share the information on the National Crime Information Center, a computerized database of documented criminal-justice information available to virtually every law-enforcement agency in the U.S. or add to state crime-tracking databases.