You have cash on your car in the form of a standup paddle board and people need cash. I spoke to a police officer buddy of mine who told me that as unemployment gets higher, snag and grab crimes go up. Anything that is perceived to be easy to grab and sell: lawnmowers, bikes, surf boards, and Stand Up Paddle Boards.
If someone wants to rob you, and they are a professional, there's not much you can do. These tips are meant to prevent thefts from the amateurs, to make someone think twice about the effort it would take to steal your SUP. It's an attempt to eliminate the low-hanging fruit.
Take these steps immediately:
- Take photos of each of your boards and paddles. You can do a video and walk through all your gear if the quality is good.
Put your name and contact info on your board and paddle with a sharpie. (Silver or white for black paddles)
- The thief might never even look. And if the thief freaks out and dumps it somewhere, someone might find it and call you.
Record the following information:
- Production Number/Serial Number:
- Distinguishing designs:
- Construction/Polyester/Fiberglass or Epoxy:
- Traction Pad Y/N?
- Traction pad color:
- Fin Setup: Single fin/2+1/Quad/5-fin
- Fin Manufacturer:
- Has the board been repaired? (Describe)
- Were there any stickers?
Here are a few tips if you are traveling and your boards are on your car:
- Use locking straps. I'm a fan of the Yakima Straps. Nothing is bulletproof. And regular surf straps barely keep boards safe from the wind. We're going to conduct some tests on which ones work best.
- Do not let your boards and paddles our of your sight. This isn't always an option, but if you stop to eat, park near the front and sit by the window.
- Park in an area where there are people, where someone hacking through your cable straps would look conspicuous.
- Do not leave your boards on your car overnight.
- Vent your boards (this isn't for theft, just don't want your board to blow up in the sun)
- If you are at a hotel, ask to bring them inside.
- If you are at a hotel and you can't bring them in, park right up front. Ask about security
Here are a few general tips at home:
- Do not leave your board in the driveway. As tired as you may be, rinse off and stow your equipment as soon as you get home.
- Don't leave the boards unstrapped, and laying on the front lawn
- Shut the door: Do not leave your garage or shed open. There's no reason for people scouting potential burglary targets to know what you have.
- Bring you boards into the house
- Lock your doors and windows
- Get a big dog and raise him by giving them treats when on the board
- Lock your shed or garage.
- Install automatic motion sensor lights at the entrance of the garage/shed
The power of Community
Join a local meetup group. Get involved in your local paddle community. When we drive around, we know each other by the boards on our roofs, then our cars, then our drivers. We're tuned in to looking at roof-top gear. The more people you know, the more people you'll have to help you reclaim your board.
If you board gets stolen
- Report it to the police immediately. File a report. Use the information you gathered above. Get the report #.
- Get a list of surf shops and pawn shops in your area and send them a 1-sheeter with a photo and pertinent information plus the police report number
- Get the word out through social media, Facebook, Twitter. Let your friends know. SUPs are very visible. Someone who steals it will have to transport it eventually.
If you find your board or spot your board
- Call the police. Do not confront them. Take a photo of their license plate with your phone.
- Press charges. Everyone makes mistakes, but most likely, your board isn't the only thing they've stolen or will steal. Stop them in their tracks and get them on the Police's radar. Most likely, by arresting and prosecuting your thief, they will recover other things they've stolen and even more people will get their things back. There is a special place in hell for people who steal surfboards, SUPs, Kayaks and Canoes.
Note: I know by writing this article I'm doomed to having my board stolen. I'm taking that risk. Dang. I know I'll break one of my rules and get nailed.