A boat on a trailer, or simply the trailer itself, is an easy grab for a thief. Numerous coupler locks are sold, but we question their effectiveness for theft prevention. After all, a crook doesn’t really need the hitch. She can simply chain the trailer to her tow vehicle and drive away with it. With that pleasant thought in mind, here are five ways to prevent boat-trailer theft.
1. A chain and padlock run through the vents of the wheel and around the trailer frame are relatively effective. Remember, even a healthy preteen can cut ¼-diameter chain with bolt cutters. We recommend using chain with links made from at least ½-diameter wire.
2. A wheel boot, like those used by parking-enforcement agencies, can be an effective way to deter trailer thieves. We like models that cover the wheel lugs, such as the Fat Boy (from $630; universalboot.com, preventing a thief from simply removing the booted wheel and replacing it with that conveniently mounted spare on your trailer’s tongue.
3. Preventative parking can be an effective theft deterrent. If the tow vehicle is secure, back the trailer tight up against a tree, fence or retaining wall if one is handy at your launch site. The downside to this technique is the availability of the right obstructions — and those obstructions not already being used by other boaters.
4. Lock the coupler to the tow vehicle. As previously mentioned, a thief might chain an unhitched trailer to his truck and tow it away even if a lock is fitted to the coupler. But if the trailer is hitched to the tow vehicle, a coupler lock that secures the trailer to the hitch can be effective — provided the thief doesn’t steal the truck.
5. Removing a wheel is certainly an effective theft deterrent for unattended boat trailers. As recommended above, make sure to remove the trailer’s spare tire and wheel as well so a thief can’t use it to make a getaway. For long-term storage, it is, in fact, a good idea to block up the trailer anyway, which will extend its useful life and the life of the tires.