You’ve spent all that money on your pride and joy, only for some low life to come and steal it and drive off with your trailer and boat. Nothing could be more soul destroying, especially if you have spent time, money, blood, sweat and tears in making your boat just how you want it.
There are so many recorded instances where thieves have made off with pontoon boats, and other marine craft for that matter, by hooking the trailer up and driving off into the distance. But what can you do to prevent this from happening and are there any good ways to secure your trailer from being stolen?
Thankfully, yes there are, and I am going to take you through just a few of what I believe to be the best options for securing your pontoon boat trailer from theft (and you can apply these same methods no matter what type of boat or trailer you own).
I will start off with what I believe the best way to secure a boat trailer is, followed by some alternatives methods, and some cheap, some expensive, but all designed to stop your boat trailer from being stolen by scum bags.
Best Way to Secure a Boat Trailer from Being Stolen
Before I get into the anti-theft methods, there’s one thing that I want to be clear with. None of these methods are guaranteed to 100% secure you trailer and boat. Thieves are crafty, and they will always manage to find a way to take your possessions if they have the desire to work hard enough.
I am going to go into a whole load of preventative security measures in one moment, but there’s one thing that I also advise you do, just in case these methods fail, is add a GPS asset tracker to your boat and trailer. This is the one I use below.
ALWAYS DO THIS: GPS Asset Tracker
If your boat trailer still gets stolen, and your preventative measures I list below haven’t worked, then look for some additional back-up. GPS trackers are a great choice.
You can buy a tracking system for your trailer or boat, and I think it’s a great way to add an extra layer of security and peace of mind. GPS trackers have come down massively in price over the last few years, and work very well. It would be negligent not to use one.
They work very simply too. All you do is hide it somewhere inside of your pontoon boat or trailer, and then activate it. If your boat and trailer get stolen, you can see exactly where it is via an app on your smartphone or computer. It won’t take long for you to catch up with the thieves.
The one I have used on my boat and trailer as my personal insurance method for theft is the AmericaLoc Real Time GPS Tracker. It offers real-time tracking, and you can see see the location moving on the map as it is getting driven away (see the image below). You can sync it up with any computer, tablet, iPhone, or other phone as long as the device you install the app on can access the Internet.
What really sets this apart from other GPS asset trackers is that you can set up security zones (also known as geo-fences). So for example, if you aren’t going to be using your boat and trailer for a while, using the app, you set up a zone of your home, or wherever the trailer is parked up. If the tracker leaves that pre-defined zone, you will get an alert to your smartphone.
So as soon as the boat trailer leaves your driveway, you’re going to know about it.
Once the zone has been breached, you can view a map that looks like the image above, showing you exactly where it’s been taken, and where the thief is.
It’s truly an essential gadget that you should buy if you want to help recover your boat trailer from theft. Go buy one before it’s way too late. It’s the best rated GPS asset tracker on Amazon, with some of the best reviews I have ever seen in my life.
What is the Best Way to Secure a Boat Trailer from Theft?
And now for my recommended methods and ideas. If you have any other ideas on how you stop your pontoon boat and trailer from being stolen, I would love to hear them, but overall these ideas listed below should drastically reduce those chances of thieves being successful.
Ways on How to Lock a Trailer So it Can’t be Stolen
Hitch Lock / Tongue Lock to Secure the Trailer Coupler
No lock is fool proof. If a thief has enough time and the right tools, they will get it off so always think about where you are storing your trailer, regardless of how secure you believe the locks are.
But I have nothing but great things to say about tongue and hitch locks. The one that I use is the MegaHitch Lock Coupler Vault Pro.
It’s a heavy-duty box that come in two parts and then fit above and under the trailer coupler, coming together to create a securely locked box. That means it would need to be removed in order for the trailer to be coupled up to a vehicle.
There are plenty of other trailer couple locks on the market, but this is generally considered one of the best that money can buy, hence the higher price point than most of the others.
Trailer Wheel Lock (Boot or Clamp)
In addition to using a tongue lock, also buy a decent trailer wheel lock, as they are a seriously heavy-duty piece of kit, and will effectively clamp the wheels of your trailer hard and fast, so it can’t be moved away and stolen. Combining the two will give you double the security to help prevent and secure your boat trailer from theft.
The best ones on the market are the wheel locks that are anti-saw off, anti-prise open, and can’t have the locks picked by the majority of opportunistic thieves.
But, for a truly effective and secure method, don’t buy anything cheap. Buy a wheel boot like parking enforcement companies use, in other words the ones that cover your wheel lugs completely.
The best on the consumer market similar to these types of devices used by parking companies is this commercial wheel clamp on Amazon. They are very heavy duty and come with a price to match so it’s up to you whether or not you want to invest this much in security.
There are cheaper solutions available though, and the one that I recommend if you are on a budget is the Coocheer Anti-Theft Wheel Lock Clamp on Amazon. It’s nowhere near as good as the commercial types but will still tick a lot of the boxes in terms of security.
The Coocher Wheel Clamp also comes with a built-in anti-theft needle which pieces the trailer wheel if they do move it, preventing it from being driven away properly.
Chain & Lock Through the Trailer Wheel
A relatively effective method to preventing your boat trailer from being stolen by opportunistic thieves is to run a chain and padlock through the wheels, and then around the frame of the trailer.
The best type of chain to use would be something that is case hardened. This will be a little bit trickier to cut off with bolt cutters, so will make the thieves’ job take a little bit longer, and hopefully give you time to apprehend them.
You can buy a kit online that comes with the chain and padlock. You can see the latest prices on Amazon.
Most criminals who are out to steal a boat trailer, are probably going to have bolt cutters as part of their arsenal, so I would not recommend this one unless you really don’t want to spend much money protecting your boat from being stolen.
Pin Style Pull Cord Alarm
These are actually manufactured for medical reasons, and they are typically used to notify hospital staff if a vulnerable patient has moved or fallen from a bed. But they also work really well with boat trailers, and you won’t need access to an electrical point as they are battery powered.
You can pick one up on Amazon really cheaply. Here’s one that I found, it’s called the Drive Medical Pull Cord Alarm.
Go check it out, it’s a great little gadget. It’s so small, it’s unlikely that a thief would see it to remove it, or even figure out what it was if looking to steal your trailer.
All you do is mount this pull cord alarm somewhere on the bottom side of the trailer frame and in a place that is least obvious and very hard to get to. Then you can attach a pull cord to something stationary under the trailer.
When the boat trailer is moved the pin pulls out of the box and the alarm starts sounding. Obviously, it’s only going to go off as long as the batteries stay alive. So, keep fresh batteries in it, put your normal locks on, and you’re good to go.
Battery Motion Lights
One of the best deterrents against your boat trailer being stolen, is to use motion lights. Most thieves will soon change their mind if they are illuminated in light, and can be seen, and you can do that using a battery motion light.
I like these, because they don’t need to be wired up, so you can actually take them with you, depending on where your boat and trailer is. So, whilst in most cases, it’s going to be set-up on your driveway somewhere, if you did decide to transport your trailer somewhere else, then you could still use it.
One of the best reviewed battery motion lights on the market is the Mr Beams Wireless Motion-Sensing LED (you can buy a twin-pack on Amazon). It is sensitive enough to detect motion of up to 12 feet away and will flood your trailer and boat with light the second it sense anybody near it.
It’s waterproof too, so you don’t need to worry about having it attached to an external wall. Buy two and set them up either side of your boat trailer for added peace of mind and security.
Adopt Preventative Parking
Another effective theft prevention method can be just down to how you park the boat trailer. For example, always park if you can, in a well-lit area and near to your home or where you are staying.
That might not always be possible, so preventative parking is something I always make sure I do to secure my trailer from being stolen easily. It’s simple to do too and this is how it works: If your towing vehicle is secure, reverse your trailer back up against a tree, fence, or wall. It will make the process of getting your trailer un-hooked and attached to the thieves’ vehicle so much more difficult and can be a great anti-theft method.
The only negative to this approach is that it might not always be possible depending on where you are parked, as if near a launch site you won’t want to obstruct other boat owners.
Remove a Trailer Wheel
This one is a pain in the butt and is best adopted if you aren’t going to be using your boat trailer for a while, as it certainly isn’t ideal if you are going to be trailering up frequently.
But it is a very effective theft deterrent if your boat trailer is going to be unattended for long periods of time.
If you do this one, make sure that you store the removed wheel securely, for example inside of your vehicle or home. Also make sure to remove the spare tire from the trailer as well so that can’t be used by an ingenious criminal.
Handy Hint: If you are storing your boat trailer for a long period of time, it is actually a good idea to get it up on blocks with the wheels removed anyway, as this will extend the lifespan of your tires.
Comments from Other Boat Owners
And finally, here are just a few select comments from other boat owners with tips on how to secure your boat trailer. These are all comments from pontoon owners that I know and respect.
“I’ve got a buddy that recently caught someone on video trying to steal his trailer. The thief got the tongue lock off, hooked the trailer up and drove about 3 feet before the logging chain caught and snatched the back of his truck around. Then he got out and unhooked it and rode off in shame!”
“My method is similar to one of your security recommendations as I chain through the wheel, loop the chain around the frame, then lock it all up with a heavy lock, plus a hitch lock. I’d rather replace a bearing than a boat!”
“I’ve always used GPS trackers on all my boats, as nothing is completely secure and thief-proof. My tried and tested method has always been to chain the wheel to the trailer, but what I also have done is pour some concrete under the axle, put an eye bolt in it, and chain to the floor of my drive way too.”
“I’ve never had a boat stolen and have always secure my boat trailer. But here’s the thing, if someone wants it that badly, they will find a way. Locks only keep honest people honest. They can all be cut with a cordless grinder. Best way to do it is make it take them as long as possible to try. I put a ball lock on it, then a lock through the latch for the hitch and often a chain through the wheels. If they are going to spend the time to cut all that stuff than at least they will have had to have worked for it.”
“I use a heavy chain through hole in the trailer wheel, wrapped around axle and spring then around tire and back to itself.”
“We park our pontoon boat on a lighted, locked, and camera-covered lot with a ball lock. I guess if they want it that bad then they can have it! I know my insurance should cover it, but there’s not really much more I can do in the way of security precautions to prevent it being stolen.”
Despite your best efforts, if the thief really wants the trailer, then they will get it. There are professional thieves you will even steal boats and trailers to order and get them delivered to other parts of the country. Sad, but it’s true unfortunately.
Having said that, making your boat and trailer a little bit more difficult to steal is never a bad idea. But whatever you do, make sure that you have adequate insurance.
You might even find that your insurance payments are reduced depending on the type of security measures that you put in place. To find out typical costs for pontoon boat insurance, please click here. Make sure you have some.