Seventh commandment: you shall not steal (the outboard motor…)

outboard motor

The theft of outboard motors, as well as that of small boats, dinghies and water motors, isn’t a recent phenomenon but in the last years it has become more frequent and organized.

Ports and marinas, yacht clubs and associations, retailers’ sites and stores are increasingly “visited” by thieves.

The outboard motor it’s an object easy to remove and transport, with a high intrinsic value and easy to sell.

It is not only an Italian problem, which in recent times has assumed alarming proportions.
In France, in a year, there were more than 1000 outboard motors stolen, most of them in Brittany alone, area where boats using outboard motors are particularly high and concentrated due to geographical reasons such as the conformation of the coasts and the tidal range.

The techniques implemented by thieves are the most disparate, in some cases, such as in Brittany exactly, thieves cut the mooring lines of the interesting boats and wait until the flow and low tide will push the boats aground in a comfortable place to finish the “work”.

More and more often they aren’t single swindlers, but organized gangs, who don’t hesitate also to force dealers’ warehouse to steal new engines.

Almost all European countries, Britain in the lead, denounce a continuous growth of thefts and the presence of these kind of specialized gangs, mostly coming from the “Eastern Europe”, where it seems to be a very active market for receiving stolen goods.


The phenomenon creates extensive damages not only to owners but also to dealers and boat storage and this fact is made more serious by the fact that an insurance compensation is more and more difficult to obtain.

Insurance companies, in fact, reluctantly insure outboard motors, with restrictive clauses and very high premiums.

A set of factors that, added to the economic crisis, conditions also the sale of new outboard with obvious damage even at manufacturers.

For some time institutions, trade associations and insurance companies have moved with measures to limit it.

In the Anglo-Saxon countries there are special database, available on line, which gives the information on stolen boats and motors, complete with a serial number, characteristics, place and date on which the theft occurred.
On one of the English websites, few days ago, it appeared to be over 3000 the number of engines stolen and not recovered.

Even in Italy, the UCINA (Italian marine industry association) recently has uploaded a section on its website where you can report number and characteristics of the outboard stolen.


For their part, some manufacturers, such as Yamaha and Suzuki, have equipped their engines with devices like “immobilizer” (an electronic key with a proximity sensor) that make it more difficult and complicated to reuse the stolen engine.

The worry of theft is also a matter for commercial purposes: some companies have launched promotional initiatives that ensure to the unlucky customer the replacement of the stolen outboard (i.e. Suzuki: “motor stolen motor replaced”).

Furthermore traditional remedies or DIY (do it yourself) are always very used, as the locking nut – the marine version of the anti-theft bar for the car – or the classic chain.

But there is also people – and they are much more than you think – who repaint the engine in different colour to make it look older and of little value!

Translated by Federica Izzo

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