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Boat Theft - A High-Profit/Low-Risk Business

NCJ Number
FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin Volume: 51 Issue: 5 Dated: (May 1982) Pages: 1-5
G J Lyford
Date Published
5 pages
This article discusses the increase in the rate of theft of boats and marine equipment and suggests appropriate police responses.
The theft of boats and marine equipment results in an estimated loss of $60 million annually. Two of the factors contributing to this increase in marine thefts are the jurisdictional problems among law enforcement agencies which deal with marine theft and the absence of State titling and licensing laws. Numerous persons have an interest in boat thefts, including manufacturers, their associations, and owners. Federal jurisdiction may be claimed in thefts involving the taking and carrying away of a vessel, breaking or entering a vessel with intent to commit a felony, theft of a vessel by its captain, transportation of stolen goods, or operation of a vessel without a valid certificate. In the absence of a theft which comes under these applicable Federal statutes, the primary jurisdiction rests with the State or local law enforcement agency. The adoption of a uniform boat titling law would make States more effective in determining valid ownership. In addition, the method of affixation of the hull identification number should be specified by law. Finally, it is suggested that the National Crime Information Boat File be used by law enforcement agencies in combatting the marine theft problem. Three footnotes and three figures are provided.