top of page

How to keep your Hornbeck Safe

Kayak, paddleboard and canoe theft is a far-too-common problem. Most people don’t realize it’s one of the fastest-growing crimes at campgrounds and parks.Take these simple steps to reduce the likelihood of your boat being stolen, and to help you identify it if that ever does happen. The goal is to make your boat easily identifiable, and a harder target to steal. Nothing is foolproof, but thieves will usually go for the easier target.

Coast guard number on a Hornbeck boat

Keep A Copy of Your HIN(SerialNumber)

Keep a copy of your serial number in a safe place. Take a photo and tag it so you can find it on your phone or cloud storage. On a Hornbeck, you’ll  find this number engraved into the right (starboard) side on the back (stern) of the boat on the outside of the hull, just under the gunwale. This serial number is called the Hull Identification Number (HIN) in the boating world. A HIN is similar to a car’s VIN number. It’s used by law enforcement to trace stolen boats, by manufacturers for warranty purposes, and insurance companies for claims. The HIN gives the Manufacturer (first three characters), the Hull Serial Number from that manufacturer (characters four though eight), the Date Of Certification and Model Year (last four characters).

Make Your Boat or Board Easily Identifiable

add a Vessel ID Sticker

A Vessel ID Sticker is a small, orange, waterproof sticker with the owner’s name and contact information to help identify the owner of the boat if it’s ever found empty. We recommend putting a second, backup phone number along with the owner’s number. These stickers are important because:


They save lives.  If you’re ever separated from your boat (in the water or on shore) the person who finds your kayak can use the sticker to provide important info to help others locate you and expedite your rescue if needed.


They prevent unnecessary searches. A search and rescue effort is required by law for any boat that is reported as found empty to authorities. This Vessel ID sticker helps track owners down in cases where the boat just slipped off but owners are fine. Unnecessary searches waste a lot of money, divert critical resources away from needed activities, and put rescuers at risk for no reason.


They can aid in returning a boat to its owner. It’s a good idea to place a second Vessel ID Sticker in an inconspicuous place within your boat (Under the seat works great in a Hornbeck) This can offer you another opportunity beyond the HIN to identify your boat in the case that it was stolen.

ACA If Found Boat Decal


Add stickers and install accessories like mounts, extra deck riggings, D-rings, or other options that make your boat look different than others of the same model and color.

Label Your Gear

Write your name on EVERY piece of gear so others can contact you to return it if found, and so thieves may be a little less likely to take it. Use a permanent marker or paint pen to add your name and phone number. Check occasionally to make sure it’s still readable.

Label your PFD, paddles, hats, water bottles, drybags, tie-down straps, splash jacket, paddling gloves, etc. This also helps avoid confusion when many on a trip have the same gear like identical dry bags.

Keep An Updated Photo

Take a good photo of your boat, tag it so you can easily find it, and keep that photo on your phone or your cloud storage for easy access if ever needed. Update your it after adding stickers or accessories so you always have a current recognizable version.

Hornbeck boat sitting on floor

Use a Locking Cable or Strap

Use a locking kayak cable or a heavy chain to make it noisy and even more difficult to steal. As mentioned earlier, your goal is to make stealing your boat as hard as possible so thieves will move on or choose other targets. Deter theft by storing inside if possible. If you must store your boat outside, keep it hidden, covered, and secured with a sturdy cable lock. Don't store paddles or gear with the boat. The thief will likely take them as well, or if near the water, may use them in his get-away. Remove anything you can and store those items inside away from the boat (for example; hatch covers, foot braces, removable seats etc.)  in order to make your boat harder to sell and therefore less desirable.

The Suspenz TieYak® Universal Kayak & Canoe Locking Cables
are available online in our store as well as at the shop.


Insure your boat

Most standard homeowners insurance covers watercraft and accessories valued under $1,500 and under 26 feet. To make sure your boat is covered under ‘contents coverage’, make sure you list your boat on your home inventory and discuss that you require this coverage with your insurance agent. If you want coverage for a boat that costs more than $1,500, your insurer usually requires a rider for supplemental coverage. You need to itemize the boat on a supplemental policy and pay a small additional premium on top of your ‘contents’ coverage.

A warning story

The thief calls someone who has advertised a boat for sale. The thief then  makes arrangements to see the boat in the morning at the sellers location. The boat then disappeared that night. If you are selling a boat get a phone number and call the prospect back before revealing the location of your boat, especially if it might be easy to steal where you have it stored.

If your kayak is stolen

It is important to report a kayak that has been stolen to the police as soon as you find it is stolen. The police could have the thief and your boat together but can't arrest them for possession of stolen property because you haven't reported it stolen yet.

bottom of page