GPS systems and boat electronics are among the items being targeted in recent thefts in the Middle and Upper Keys. CONTRIBUTED

    Reports of marine thefts at marinas are rampant in the Upper and Middle Keys. GPS systems and boat electronics are among the items being targeted. 

    Per the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, these incidents are similar to other property crimes — or what Sheriff Rick Ramsay refers to as crimes of opportunity. The sheriff’s office recently released a host of tips to prevent such snatchings, especially from boats stored at a marina. 

    Install lighting and surveillance 

    • Install motion sensors linked to lights. Make sure the property is well-lit.
    • Marinas should be conducting daily security checks. Check fencing for openings or damage where burglars can enter the property.
    • Ensure security cameras will capture the face of an intruder. Cameras are often installed too high and only capture the top of a suspect’s head or the brim of a hat.
    • Link cameras and motion sensors to your Bluetooth devices.
    • Cut back foliage burglars could use for cover. Remove natural hiding places.
    • Whether on a trailer or in a canal, make sure your boat can be seen by neighbors and/or deputies patrolling the neighborhood.

    Keeping items secured 

    • Remove the keys from the boat; if it is on a lift, turn the breaker off in the house to disable it.
    • Remove the steering wheel if the boat won’t be used for a long time.
    • Install a GPS tracking device on your boat and/or engines.
    • Install a boat alarm. Alarms are very effective at preventing equipment and boat thefts.
    • Disconnect the batteries to disable the trim/tilt function. Keep the engine down, touching the ground so the lower unit can’t be removed.

    If the boat’s on a trailer

    • Chain the rims together or boot one of the wheels to prevent the entire boat and trailer from being stolen.
    • Keep a trailer hitch lock on at all times.
    • Back the boat close to a house, wall, or other stationary objects
    • Engrave your driver’s license number or make a distinctive marking on your valuable property for identification purposes.
    • Take pictures of and record serial numbers.

    If you see anything suspicious, call the sheriff’s office immediately. Call 911 if a crime is taking place.