Theft-Proofing Your Paddling Gear

No one wants to have an expensive kayak or paddleboard stolen. Learn how to secure your gear properly and help prevent thefts while camping or other activities.

Paddle sports have become increasingly more popular over the last decade as evidenced by the growing sales figures of canoes, kayaks, and paddle boards, some of which sell for thousands of dollars for some higher-end models. To complicate matters most watercraft such as these don’t come with serial numbers or other permanent identification markers making them virtually impossible to recover in the event of theft.

Locks, Lassos and Permanent Identification

Fortunately there are anti-theft devices available for securing kayaks and paddle boards such as cable locks and lassos. While locks alone may not be enough to deter a determined criminal, it will definitely make things more difficult for them. When securing gear never store smaller items, such as paddles or life jackets, inside of a kayak or leave them lying in the bed of a truck as these items may be stolen as well.

In addition to adding locks, many paddlers have gone a step further by adding engraved identifiers to their vessels. This can be done easily with a jewelers engraving tool or dremel, or even riveting a metal i.d. tag to the vessel. Most owners will add the marking somewhere within the cockpit or storage areas so that it’s not easily seen by criminals, but the information can be provided to law enforcement to aide in recovery.

Protecting Your Kayak on Trips

Many paddlers take their kayaks and paddle boards with them on extended vacation. When parking at a hotel, restaurant or other public place be sure to park in a highly visible location. Don’t pull around back or park away from the roadway because thieves tend to target those areas more. Check all cables and locks before leaving the vehicle and, if equipped, set the alarm on the vehicle.

What to do if Your Kayak or Paddle Board is Stolen

Once an owner discovers their equipment stolen, they should contact the police immediately and give them a full description of what was taken including identifying marks. Next, contact local paddle shops to spread the word. Connect with the local paddle community through social media such as Facebook or Twitter and spread the message. In situations such as these, the paddling community can be very helpful by getting eyes on the water to help locate stolen property.

In addition to spreading the word, check out local pawn shops, classified ads and craigslist for the local and surrounding areas. If the property is located, don’t try to retrieve it personally, but notify local law enforcement immediately and let them handle it. Ultimately, when it comes to protecting items such as kayaks, canoes, paddle boards and surfboards, prevention is the most successful strategy.