Marine thieves more prevalent

Thousands of boat owners who use Essex’s extensive coastal and inland waterways are being urged to join a police scheme to reduce marine crime.

The Essex Police Marine Watch project helps to prevent and detect crime through close contact with the force’s marine unit and by collating details of boats and valuable marine equipment on a police database system.

With around 400 miles of coastline and with inland rivers, canals and lakes used for boating, Essex is one of Britain’s most popular areas for nautical sports, attracting many people from outside the county.

Now Essex Police is anxious to extend Marine Watch to include everyone who keeps a boat into the county or who brings one in for the summer season.

By getting more people involved in Marine Watch police believe that many thefts could be prevented or detected quicker.

One of the most important tools of Marine Watch is the database which stores contact details for owners, the names and descriptions of boats, their mooring or onshore storage details, engine numbers and information about their electronic and navigational equipment.

In the event of a boat being stolen or recovered police can quickly circulate details or find the rightful owner. The stored data can also be used to identify stolen items at boat jumbles or items recovered during house searches. Anyone who joins the scheme will be urged to ensure that changes of boats or equipment are notified so that the database remains fully up to date.

Marine Watch members also receive newsletters containing crime prevention advice or information about local crime trends. Members can also benefit from property marking initiatives and meetings with the police marine unit officers.
Marinas and yacht and boat clubs can also set up their own Marine Watch groups with local volunteer co-ordinators to ensure that boats and equipment are marked.

PCSO Susie Smith, who helms Marine Watch, from the marine unit’s base at Burnham-on-Crouch said: “The unit covers a huge area of coastline extending from Crayford Ness near Grays on the River Thames to Manningtree on the River Stour. We are also responsible for boat crimes on rivers and canals such as the Lea, Stort, Chelmer and Stour and also lakes and reservoirs.

“We are now extending Marine Watch to cover all boating areas to encourage people to be more security conscious about their boats and also develop the community spirit that exists between boating enthusiasts to encourage them to keep an eye on each other’s property.

“We are also working closely with the Neighbourhood Watches and neighbourhood policing teams around the county to make them aware of marine crime and boat security.

“With so many boats and dinghies afloat and ashore in Essex during the summer season we want to encourage people to take some simple crime prevention precautions and help us catch lawbreakers when crimes are committed.”

Contact the Essex Police Marine Unit on 0300 333 4444 for information about Marine Watch or visit the website