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Old 26-10-2020, 11:37   #1
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Will I be a target for theft?

I'm headed to the Caribbean, and I don't think I'll be a target for theft, but I wanted to hear some people's two cents on it. I won't be in a big or fancy boat - rather, she's 30 feet of steel from the 70s. I will have a tiny (6, maybe 8 foot) dinghy with probably 4 hp outboard. I will, however, be outfitted for cruising - I'll have a radar, a nice chart plotter, stuff like that which could potentially give away that I may have some valuables inside (or maybe not?) Anyway, what kinds of boats are usually targeted for theft, what is usually stolen, and how do people usually prevent it (besides locking the cabin)? I'm also a young woman who will probably be solo - does that compound my risk? Any tips for being safe in that arena?
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Old 26-10-2020, 11:49   #2
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Re: Will I be a target for theft?

Always pull the dingy out of the water at night. Chain outboard to mother ship as well.
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Old 26-10-2020, 13:38   #3
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Re: Will I be a target for theft?

I don't see an issue with your boat or dinghy. 4hp is not a hot item in the Caribbean.

Being a single woman... I can't comment on that much, as I'm a man. I think you'll attract more interest as a single woman, Which means it'll be a little harder to stay under the radar, I'd think.

Cheers, and good luck.
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Old 26-10-2020, 13:50   #4
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Re: Will I be a target for theft?

if your outboard is relatively low horse power it will have no value for the local fishermen though doubt that your biggest threat is them. Dinghies, engines, oars and other hardware are typically stolen by your fellow cruisers of limited means.
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Old 26-10-2020, 16:24   #5
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Re: Will I be a target for theft?

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Originally Posted by roverhi View Post
if your outboard is relatively low horse power it will have no value for the local fishermen though doubt that your biggest threat is them. Dinghies, engines, oars and other hardware are typically stolen by your fellow cruisers of limited means.
I don't quite agree with that. While it's true that the fishermen themselves can't use them they know their value. Locals will often steal small outboards with a view to selling them a little later to someone else. There have even been numerous reports of people stealing dinghies and then turning up at the boat the next day to demand a 'finders fee' for it's return.

The Caribbean can be a nice place but dinghy and engine theft is rife.
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Old 26-10-2020, 16:31   #6
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Re: Will I be a target for theft?

Another thing - my boat is bright blue, my dinghy is fire engine red. Both are quite recognizable and will stand out at an anchorage. Would you say that increases my vulnerability, or decreases it? On the one hand, the lack of the bright red dinghy at the boat (or seeing the bright red dinghy on the beach) is a pretty obvious sign that I'm away, but on the other, I feel like it might be more difficult to get away with a bright red dinghy, if that is what you're after and not the outboard, because it doesn't look like all the gray ones. Thoughts?

And in terms of boats that are more likely to be targeted, would you say its the bigger, newer boats, like a big Leopard cat, or do the smaller, more modest ones get hit, too? I feel like my boat will definitely say "not super rich" just by looking at it, but on the other hand all boats have valuables on them so I don't know
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Old 26-10-2020, 16:34   #7
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Re: Will I be a target for theft?

Another thing is, if I am able to detach my chart plotter, do you think it's important that I bring it inside at night? It's obviously very expensive, probably the only expensive thing on deck that's really steal-able, but is it a hot item? I feel like they would be hard to sell. Anything else important that sometimes gets left on deck and isn't there the next morning?
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Old 26-10-2020, 16:38   #8
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Re: Will I be a target for theft?

My advice is to always think that you are likely to be a target.
It all depends on where and what time and who is about.
I have never been a victim but I have likely been a target. I put the difference down to my first sentence.
I have seen plenty of victims about me, had boats broken into 100 yards from me while I was aboard my boat.
Go party and drinking and come back to your boat after dark most definately raises the odds.
Theres a lot of things you can do to reduce the likelyhood...but once again that involves being pro active.
One example is haviing an alarm on your boat. I did not find one that met my requirements so I built one. Super easy, cheap and really no need to be an electrical engineer. You can hook it up to a siren, spreader lights...both...whatever your heart desires.
I cannot stress my first sentence enough. That thought process in any part of the world at all times will considerably raise the odds of not becoming a victim. Scum does not like hard aware victims.

This is answering the OP, I do not care to argue or deal with the trolls
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Old 26-10-2020, 16:48   #9
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Re: Will I be a target for theft?

More dinghies and outboards are stolen by other cruisers than by locals... except for 15hp outboards.

I donít think the colors or being a single female matters. For the local population in the Caribbean, what matters is more about how you dress (immigration will refuse to help you when not appropriately dressed etc.) and how you act. They are sensitive to bragging, arrogance etc. We see such people getting into trouble often.

Also, participating in local night scene, drugs scene etc. very often puts sailors in trouble.

Kelsey, I think you are Dutch, like us? Youíll be fine
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Old 26-10-2020, 16:53   #10
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Re: Will I be a target for theft?

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More dinghies and outboards are stolen by other cruisers than by locals... except for 15hp outboards.

I donít think the colors or being a single female matters. For the local population in the Caribbean, what matters is more about how you dress (immigration will refuse to help you when not appropriately dressed etc.) and how you act. They are sensitive to bragging, arrogance etc. We see such people getting into trouble often.

Also, participating in local night scene, drugs scene etc. very often puts sailors in trouble.

Kelsey, I think you are Dutch, like us? Youíll be fine
Ah I can see how the arrogance can play a role. I've always disliked the arrogance of some cruisers, it does not make sense to me. And for fellow cruisers, I'd hope that the appearance of my boat might garner at least some respect (I'm keeping up varnish and I've got antique nav lights, and the like) that might deter theft, perhaps.

And unfortunately I am not Dutch, but my boat is!
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Old 26-10-2020, 17:01   #11
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Re: Will I be a target for theft?

It is random. It is common.


Dinghy chained. Boat bolted up when nobody onboard.


Fellow cruisers as often thieves as shore people.


Mind your stuff and you are likely to be perfectly fine.



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Old 26-10-2020, 17:07   #12
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Re: Will I be a target for theft?

Yes to some degree ... you are not a target, but you will rarely go unnoticed. But you are not the first, so proceed with situational awareness and caution until you get your bs meter calibrated to your new surroundings.
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Old 27-10-2020, 03:05   #13
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Re: Will I be a target for theft?

Understanding and managing risk is part of cruising. Good "security hygiene" will go a long ways. Remove electronics from the cockpit when not in use. Get a secure bar type protected lock for your outboard (not just a simple padlock thru the turnbuckles) , use a stainless chain and lock for the dinghy, lift it and lock it at night. An intrusion alarm with lights/loud sound will deter the roque opportunists and keep you safe while sleeping. As a lone female you will attract attention, you should "lock in" at night, have companionway bars made so you will sleep easy. Make it obvious that you are serious about your safety and security. Some places have more crime than others .... there is a website with great info and some good tools for understanding and staying up to date on this for the Caribbean. I get the free email alerts and use the interactive maps . here is a link https://safetyandsecuritynet.org/. Read some of the reports they have from victims and it will help you understand. Then prepare and be sensible. The worst events (not theft) seem to happen in isolated situations.
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Old 27-10-2020, 03:13   #14
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Re: Will I be a target for theft?

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Originally Posted by KelseyB View Post
Another thing - my boat is bright blue, my dinghy is fire engine red. Both are quite recognizable and will stand out at an anchorage. Would you say that increases my vulnerability, or decreases it? On the one hand, the lack of the bright red dinghy at the boat (or seeing the bright red dinghy on the beach) is a pretty obvious sign that I'm away, but on the other, I feel like it might be more difficult to get away with a bright red dinghy, if that is what you're after and not the outboard, because it doesn't look like all the gray ones. Thoughts?

And in terms of boats that are more likely to be targeted, would you say its the bigger, newer boats, like a big Leopard cat, or do the smaller, more modest ones get hit, too? I feel like my boat will definitely say "not super rich" just by looking at it, but on the other hand all boats have valuables on them so I don't know

Absolutely.

I have a very recognizable boat. Itís been broken into and stolen from half a dozen times now. Only while unattended, but still.

The color puts you in the mind of the thieves as opposed to just being one of the mass of white boats that fade into a background.

Itís fun to have a cool boat but itís also a chore to stand out.
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Old 27-10-2020, 08:38   #15
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Re: Will I be a target for theft?

Thieves are opportunists. Make it hard for them to just jump aboard and grab a handful of stuff. It is doubtful you would be targeted specifically unless it is known that you have something aboard that is worth the risk of a planned theft. When my brother cruised sometimes he would put tacks on the deck at night. Not sure of your pet affiliation, put a small dog may be good to make noise if someone tries to board. Or even a recording of a medium sized dog you could play if you think you hear something.

As the saying goes: 'Locks exist to keep honest people that way'. No lock will keep someone out who REALLY wants in.
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