Australia’s largest provider of recreational boat insurance, Club Marine, has teamed up with Police, Crime Stoppers and Australia’s leading theft deterrent system, DataDot Technology Australia, to create the National Marine Register (NMR) to combat boat theft across Australia.
The Register already contains almost 40,000 boat and marine-equipment profiles, including 900 stolen vessels. It was officially launched at a special Club Marine function at the recent Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show in Queensland.
The Register will be the ‘go to’ place for people looking to buy pleasure craft to check whether that vessel has been previously stolen and is being passed off as a genuine item. The Register will be free to use for consumers.
“It’s time to take more action to deter theft,” said Club Marine CEO Greg Fisher. “We find that the most commonly stolen boats are trailer boats used for fishing and waterskiing. We are determined to make it harder for thieves to profit from stealing boats from Club Marine members and boat dealers. That’s why we support the creation of the National Marine Register and were actively involved in getting it up and running.”
Fisher said he was hopeful that other marine insurance companies would come onboard with the initiative so that it would be as effective as possible in combating boat theft.
“We urge all other insurance companies to support this great initiative. Right now it is relatively easy to steal and rebirth vessels in Australia. If we all work together we can do our bit to stamp out this practice, which affects us all one way or another.”
When thieves change the identity of boats and personal water craft (PWCs) it is more difficult for investigators to confirm the true ownership and subsequently achieve a successful prosecution – so even when boats and PWCs are recovered, police are restricted in their ability to return the vessel to the true owner and proceed with prosecutions. Authorities say this hampers their ability to punish offenders and encourages continued criminal activity.
The National Marine Register will provide standardised information and communications for improved marine-based law enforcement.
Peter Price of Crime Stoppers said: “Re-birthing and surrogate registration operations make marine theft in Australia a simple, lower-risk, profitable criminal business. Criminal networks traffic in stolen boats and personal water craft between Australian states, where it is very difficult to identify the stolen vessels.
“The National Marine Register is an important tool and highlights the benefits of identification technology by providing a source of valuable information that will greatly assist law enforcement in their investigation and recovery of stolen marine assets,” he added.
Using the National Marine Register, boat and PWC owners can register and upload pictures and key data about their craft’s identifying features, including HIN, VIN and motor serial numbers. The data provides critical information for use during police investigations in the event that the boat is stolen, in which case the NMR will activate a theft alert strategy via text alerts, police communications and social media to increase the chance of solving the crime.
Marine dealers and boat buyers can use a Boat Check feature to identify stolen boats that are advertised for sale and avoid buying a stolen vessel.
Industry analysis reveals that there are more than $11m-worth of vessels stolen in Australia each year and the most targeted are recreational fishing and ski boats.
Police say professional thieves are active in the marine market and that the profits from stolen boats directly funds other criminal activities.
Police say they are frustrated by the lack of standardised marine information available between the states and territories. This makes it easy for organised crime gangs to steal boats, move them across borders and then sell them to unsuspecting buyers.
DataDot Technology’s involvement in the NMR has been crucial to its creation. DataDot works by applying thousands of microscopic discs (DataDots) about the size of a grain of sand. Each dot contains a unique code that is stored on a national register, which is accessible by police to identify an asset. Warning stickers alert thieves that an asset has been marked, which often prevents theft from occurring in the first place.
One car maker alone has seen reductions in theft of over 84 per cent in its vehicles since it began using DataDot to identify its products.
“We’d encourage all Club Marine members to view the new NMR website at: nationalmarineregister.com.au and familiarise themselves with the features of this great new service,” said Greg Fisher.
PHOTO CAPTION: Club Marine CEO Greg Fisher officially launches the National Marine Register at Sanctuary Cove.