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Theft of Outboard Engines Rise - How One Area Effectively Tackled This Problem

For many years the theft of outboard engines from boats moored along the North Norfolk coast had been an ongoing problem and accounted for a significant proportion of crimes in the area. Unfortunately, the majority of these crimes went undetected. This is, however a nationwide, even global problem that has recently been described in the media as an epidemic.

Between 2006 and 2008 such thefts in North Norfolk came to a total financial value of £53,706. During late summer 2008, in order to resolve this problem, consultation took place with key partners including local Police, Town Council and the Harbour users, these meetings reinforced the need for action and all agreed to work together to repair community confidence issues, to detect such crimes and more importantly, to prevent them occurring.

In view of the considerable geographic area concerned it was decided, early on, to concentrate in the first instance on the Wells Harbour area in order to design a bespoke solution to this problem. Wells Harbour has moorings for approximately 400 boats.

Boat owners in the area had repeatedly been given advice about removing or locking their outboards but engines continued to be stolen on a regular basis from the area.

The Search For A Solution Begins

Early attempts to address the thefts included the permanent defacement of engine cowlings by their owners. This was partly successful with no reports of thefts of outboards that had been defaced but it had limited take up and was unpopular with owners of newer or more valuable engines due to the appearance and depreciation in value.

The provision of secure premises to leave the outboard engines in was also tried but failed due to the need to remove the engine from the boat and then carry it sometimes a considerable distance. Additionally this actually created a threat in so far as engines would be gathered together in one place providing a potential opportunity to steal a number of engines from a place with vehicular access.

Restricting vehicular access to areas by the use of bollards was also tried. This was unsuccessful due to the impossibility to completely block huge and isolated areas and it was clearly impossible to block access by water. The difficulty associated with keys or numerical access codes were also negative points in this trial.

Attempts to persuade owners to remove outboards when the boat was left also had only limited success due to the difficulties of removing bigger engines and the pure 'hassle' of carrying the engine and then transporting it in a car.

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