Narrow Boat Security – 10 Easy Improvements

Narrow boat security is no different to home security.

After all, you live on your narrowboat, so why wouldn’t you want it to be as secure as a house?

In this article I’ll look at narrow boat security, how you can improve the security of your narrow boat, and what products you will need to make your narrowboat as safe and secure as a traditional brick and mortar house.

Below is a handy table of contents, click on one of the headings to take you straight to the place on this page. I am an Amazon Associate, and make a commission on qualifying purchases.

Narrow Boat Security

First off, let’s say this about narrow boat security; if someone really wants to break in, they will break into your narrow boat.

We simply can’t make it 100% secure and say for sure that nobody will be able to break in – there’s nothing in this world that is 100% secure.

But what we can do is make things harder for criminals by using the layered approach to security, and adopting the simple tactics of deter, detect, and prevent.

The biggest and most useful tactic is without doubt the deterrent aspect – deter any would be thief from getting anywhere near your boat, and you’ve won.

Theft Of Narrow Boats

There’s good news here. When it comes to narrow boat security and theft of your boat, it’s very unlikely to be stolen.

Here’s a headline from 2020 from The Telegraph:

canal boat theft

If anything, the theft of a narrow boat will be more down to stupidity rather than any other nefarious reason. A criminal is unlikely to get anywhere very fast, and it would be quite difficult to sell on something like a canal boat quickly and easily. In fact, the above article was little more than a drunken joy ride.

But that being said, you don’t want it to happen to you, and neither do you want to be broken into either when your’re away from your boat – or worse – when you are on board.

Securing Your Narrow Boat

Below are 12 tips to improve the security of your narrow boat and make it more secure.

improve narrow boat security

Some are harder to implement than others, and some of the tips may not apply to your narrow boat.

Implement what you can, in your own timescales, and you’ll hopefully end up with a narrow boat that is safe and secure from criminals and thieves operating in whatever area you may find yourself in.


Just like living in a house, there’s good and bad areas.

It’s the same for mooring on a towpath. There’s good and bad areas.

When cruising the canals of the UK, be prudent and sensible about where you moor overnight.

Common sense says that if you are moored next to a bridge that is by a town centre, on a Saturday night for example, then you’re far more likely to have some drunken idiots spoiling your peace and tranquility than if you were moored in the middle of the countryside.

Thieves and criminals operate everywhere, but you are more likely to be the victim of crime near built up areas like towns and cities, especially if there are pockets of depravation and poverty.

Marinas are quite a safe place – you will most likely have a small community of people living in your vicinity, and marinas themselves are equipped with their own security measures like CCTV and gated areas.

So the key takaway here is to be prudent about where you are mooring for the night (and try to moor near to other boats – safety in numbers), and do some research online about the area you are in.

Your Garage/Garden (Your Roof In Other Words!)

If you store things on the roof of your canal boat, and they’re not secured, then expect them to go walkies at some point in the future.

An opportunist thief walking past will simply walk off with your possessions (or ride off if it’s a bike), and the likelihood is you’ll never see those possessions again.

So when storing things like: bikes, fishing rods and fishing gear, chairs, step ladders, tools etc, secure them. Lock them down and secure them with chains, bike locks and padlocks.

Of course, you could also invest in a roof box, but do remember this will affect centre of gravity and your ability to travel under low bridges.

So, a bike loop lock is recommended – simply loop it around anything that is near like rails or runners and secure with a padlock.

Burg-Wachter Sterling 129C 12mm x 9m Double Loop Vinyl Coated Multi-Stranded Braided Steel Cable with Self Coiling-Black
  • Braided steel cable for increased strength and flexibility
  • Weather resistant vinyl coating, avoids scratching

And then use this padlock to secure it:

BeskooHome Code Padlock, 4 Digit Outdoor Waterproof Resettable Combination Padlock for School Gym Locker, Shed, Cabinet, Tool Box, Garage, Gate, (1 Pack Black)
  • HIGH SECURITY: 4-digit offers 10, 000 combinations for added security compared with 3-digit padlock. Equipped with an advanced damper design for accurate setting of your code. No random code set.
  • EASY TO USE: Come with a clear instruction. Easy to set and reset your own four-digit code. Compact size, light weight, and convenient for you to store and carry. No more fiddly keys.

Improve Door Security

Narrow boat security really does hinge around entrance points, such as doors and windows.

Forcing open a door is the number one way to enter any dwelling, be it a house, van or boat.

The older your boat, the more likely it is that you won’t have up to date doors that will repel a forced opening.

If you do have an older boat with older doors and older locks, it’s worth sourcing out a reliable fitter that will be able to upgrade your doors and hatches to make them more secure.

If money doesn’t permit, and you are a dab hand at DIY, you could also custom fit some additional locks on exterior doors that will improve the security of your narrow boat.

Some simple idea’s are below, for both inside and outside of your external doors.

1 Set – Shed Locking Clasp with Weather Proof Padlock Set for Securing Garden Gates, Sheds & External Doors – Black Powder Coated – Hardware Solutions
  • Waterproof Security: This set includes a shed locking clasp with a waterproof padlock, ensuring your garden gates, shed doors, or external doors remain securely fastened in all weather conditions.
  • Durable Construction: Made from highly durable steel with a black powder-coated finish, this door lock hardware is designed to withstand harsh weather and provide many years of trouble-free operation.
2 Pcs Door Lock Bolt Barrel Sliding Latch Lock with Screws for Bathroom Toilet Shed Door Furniture Pet Gate (3-inch)
  • Package Includes: 2 pack stainless steel door bolt lock with screws. Main bolt body: 75*35mm; Receiver: 14*35mm and mount hole diameter is 4mm.
  • High Quality: Made of premium stainless steel, uses the latest electroplating and polishing technology to ensure a perfect longevity.

Improve Window Security

There’s only one way to really secure your windows, and that’s by installing window bars, reducing the gap that somebody could potentially climb in through.

This is a lot of work, especially if you have a lot of windows. Not to mention the aesthetics and the safety aspect in case you need to exit quickly in case of fire.

For this reason, we don’t recommend doing anything to your windows apart from making sure they are secure and in good shape, including any of the locking latches and mechanisms.

Motion Lighting – Hated By Criminals!

You’ll often be moored up next to a towpath that has no lighting at all.

Great for a good nights sleep, but also great for criminals! One of the weak spots when it comes to narrow boat security is the lack of lighting.

Installing some solar powered motion detection lights near stern and bow doors will deter anyone near these doors in darkness – the shock of being lit up suddenly will usually have the desired effect. It’ll also help you of course when you need to go out at night.

The following lights are easily attached and come with an easy to reach button that has three different modes. They come in 2 or 4 packs.

HETP Solar Lights Outdoor, 【4 Pack】 78 LED Solar Motion Sensor Security Lights – Solar Powered Lights Waterproof Wireless Wall Lights Solar Lamps with 3 Intelligent Modes for Outside
  • 【❤24 Months After Sales Service of Solar Lights❤】We 24 months After Sales Service and 24 hours professional customer service. In case of problems, do not hesitate to contact us, friendly regards. Important: For the first time, press and hold for 3 seconds to activate the solar lights.
  • 【Energy Efficient and Environmentally Friendly 78 LED Solar Lights】 Solar lamp meets the call of international organizations in terms of energy saving and environmental protection. Rechargeable lithium-ion battery, sunlight converting up to 19%, offer illumination up 10 hours a day, light up your night.

Stickers & Signage

Don’t underestimate the power of a few well placed stickers and signs can have on the security of your narrow boat.

Signs that warn of alarms, CCTV and GPS tracking all deter criminals. After all, they are looking for the easiest target, and don’t want to have to deal with the threat of alarms and cameras.

This selection of signs will do just the trick. Place them on windows and doors near to entrances and in prominent posistions on both sides of your canal boat to boost security and the threat of security measures against would be thieves.

2 x 10cm This Boat is Alarmed Warning Vinyl Sticker Bike Motorcycle Gift #9748 (10cm Wide x 10cm High)
  • A simple ‘Peel and Stick’ sticker, ideal for iPads, Laptops etc.
  • Size of the sticker: 10cm Wide x 10cm Tall

Hide Valuables

Such a simple thing to do when it comes to your narrow boat security.

The same as you wouldn’t have a laptop left in the front seat of an unattended car, don’t leave your valuables on show on your canal boat.

Which brings me nicely onto the next section…

Buy A Safe!

Safes are cheap and affordable these days, and although a more expensive safe will be harder to break into, a cheaper safe will slow down a criminal and make it harder for them to gain access to your most valuable possessions such as cameras, laptops, passports and other important possessions.

We recommend this Yale safe below, because it is small and lightwieght and can be affixed to either a wall or floor of your narrowboat. The one below also comes in different shapes and sizes.

Just remember to not only measure the size of the space you wish to install your safe, but measure the items that are going to go into it to make sure they fit. On the Amazon page, simply select different sizes to see what suits your space.

Yale Medium Value Safe, Digital Keypad, LED Light Indicators, 15mm Steel Locking Bolts, Emergency Override Key, Wall And Floor Fixings, Black Finish, YSV/250/DB1
  • STANDARD SECURITY SAFE: This Medium Electronic Value Safe provides you with a good level of security for items you need more regularly, such as laptop, keys, passports, cash and cards.
  • KEYPAD ENTRY: Easy to access with a three to eight digit PIN code, there are over 100,000 combinations to choose from.

Dummy Alarms

If you can’t afford an expensive alarm system to improve your narrow boat security (see below), consider the use of a dummy alarm.

Well, it’s not so much of an alarm, but a blinking light that may well fool the unsuspecting criminal that an alarm system is primed.

The following flashing light can be placed in prominent areas of your boat, and moved whenever neccesary (you don’t have to use the adhesive). It has an on and off button, and is an absolutely great detterent.

Car Alarm LED Light Solar Security Warning Dummy System Anti-theft Flash Blinking Lamp Red
  • Easy to install and immediately effective, potential thefts are deterred
  • Ideal for cars, motorcycles, caravan, boat, van, houses, shed etc.

Smart Alarms & CCTV

There are tonnes of alarm systems on the market, but we once again go with Yale – and this setup. This setup is DIY, and you can add components as you see fit.

It links to your phone and will alert you if the PIR sensor senses movement – very handy if you are away from your boat.

When it comes to alarms and CCTV, it really is a bespoke solution for you and your narrow boat. Everyone has a different setup, everyone has a different appetite for risk and for some people, it will require a professional to come in and install a truly bespoke CCTV and alarm system.

Safety On Your Canal Boat

It would be totally remiss of a site called ‘Safe Secure Homes’ not to touch on safety whilst aboard your narrowboat.

It goes without saying that you already have a life jacket on board.

But you should also have the following as an absolute minimum, including a smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector:

Kidde 10SCO Combination 10 Year Life Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Alarm (1)
  • Two alarms in one unit for space saving and convenience.
  • Different voice warnings for smoke and CO with loud 85dB alarm noise.
KING KARAN® 1m x 1m Soft Case Fire Blanket, Large, Quick Unfolding, with Loops
  • Manufactured by KING KARAN
  • This fire blanket is ideal for household kitchens, homes caravans, Garages, offices etc
Super Help SH2400 Fire Stop Small Fire Extinguisher, Extinguishes Minor Fires&Stops them from Expanding, Nontoxic, Environmentally Safe, Ideal for Car, Camper, Caravan, Boat, 400ML
  • The Super Help Fire Stop special flame retardant fluid can impregnate a minor fire to stop it from spreading and growing
  • Easy to operate;Unique nontoxic formulaextinguishes minor fires fast

Questions & Comments

Please give me your thoughts on Narrow Boat Security below in the comments. What is your preferred method of security for your narrow boat? What other narrow boat security measures do you have in place? What advice do you have?

Leave your comments below – I reply to every single comment.

Stay Safe. Stay Secure.


My name is Richard.

I'm 40 years old. And I have nearly 20 years experience in various safety and security industries.

I'm here for you, sharing all my knowledge and experience to help you create a safe and secure home for you and your family.

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3 thoughts on “Narrow Boat Security – 10 Easy Improvements”

  1. HI,

    I like the idea of the Yale sych alarm that you ahve above – however I dont think the hub can run off 12v so the boat invertor would always be switched on.

  2. Hi,

    We have developed a product that can assist with remote security.

    It is a wildlife camera with cellular as an option.

    It is a more advanced product that other camera out on the market. All the cameras we see can only offer a few images a minute with the batteries being drained the more often it is used. They also rely on PIR sensors to cut battery usage. But PIR sensors are unreliable when used outside. Also, these other cameras tie you in with expensive Cloud Plans. Ours do not.
    We intend to officially release on 18th May.
    We have already been nominated for a Start-up award.

    We would like to know can we advertise within your magazine and if so what would be the derived costs in doing so?

    Kind Regards

    Andrew D Simpson
    RealiseMotion Limited

    • Hi Andrew. I don’t offer paid advertising on the site as yet. However, a guest article of at least 1,000 words (provided by you) with an overview of your products and company will be accepted, simply submit it via the contact us page when you are ready. Thanks.


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