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.
Table of Contents
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:
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.
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 it 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.
And then use this padlock to secure it:
Improve Door Security
Narrow boat security really does hinge around entrance points, such as doors and windows.
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.
YOUR SECURITY PRODUCT RECOMMENDATIONS
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.
MOTION DETECTION LIGHTING RECOMMENDATIONS
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.
WINDOW STICKER RECOMMENDATIONS
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.
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.
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.
YOUR SAFETY/SECURITY PRODUCT RECOMMENDATIONS
Questions & Comments
Please give me your thoughts on Narrow Boat Security below in the comments. What is your preferred method of security? What 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.