Grand Theft Scuba



If you are a regular reader of this blog, you will appreciate I like to keep my posts fairly light hearted; some may say slightly comical. It’s not that I am particularly amusing, least of all in real life; it is simply that I don’t know how to be completely serious for prolonged periods of time.


Why are you telling me this you ask?


serious face
It is more of a disclaimer than a reason to be honest. Today’s post is a pretty serious matter, and I don’t want to demean it any way; it’s just highly likely I will lose the ability to remain sombre. Never the less; I shall attempt it.





This post is about Scuba Gear Theft.



SCUBA GEAR STOLEN



Stuff get’s stolen. Unfortunately it is a fact of life that cannot be avoided, and undoubtedly everyone will be robbed of something at some stage of their life.

Besides my virginity, I have been subject to a greater proportion of theft than I feel is fair; namely car theft - having lost 2 cars and experienced several break-ins and various auto vandalisms.


Needless to say I have moved house since then and the problems have abated.


Scuba divers are also a target for thieves. The first time I heard about a diver being robbed of their equipment I was completely shocked; in my mind scuba gear is very unique, and I couldn’t comprehend some local moron flogging regulators or wet suits at the local car boot sale.


It does happen.


Due to significant thefts of late in Ireland I have become more aware of the problem; and after a little research online, it became immediately apparent it is a global occurrence. A sad state of affairs.







WHERE DOES IT HAPPEN?


When I read a post on a scuba forum about gear being stolen, I imagined it was some evil diver who simply lifted a mask, an smb, or set of fins, lying abandoned at a dive site.


Again I was wrong.




Gear has been stolen from:

  • Car
  • Caravan
  • Trailer
  • House
  • Shed
  • Garage
  • Dive site
  • Boat
  • Dive Schools
  • Hotel/Holiday 

The list is endless, and after reading various renditions of robbery I realised I have been very lucky.



HOW TO AVOID SCUBA GEAR THEFT



Ultimately, as with everything in this world, if someone REALLY wants to steal your stuff; they will. However, there are always things we can do to stop the opportunistic thief:

VEHICLE: I often have gear in the car, post or pre-dive. It can be difficult to hide, but throwing the bags on top of tanks can hide the obvious fact there is scuba gear inside.

Remove any “divers go down for longer” bumper stickers; they just draw attention to the possible contents of a car boot. Plus; they are crap.

The same applies for "compressed air" stickers etc.


HOME: I don’t leave my gear near big windows, patios doors etc, and the room with our kit has the blind, pretty much, closed all the time. An alarm is an obvious addition to, even a fake one.


GARAGE/SHED: Cover any windows, or throw something over gear like an old tarpaulin; make it look like it’s been there for years.


DIVE SITE: Inland sites are an easy target, as they are so busy. Most of us dive with a buddy, so it’s prudent to never leave kit unattended. Send your buddy to get the air fills and teas – you “guard the gear.”


BOAT: This is pretty difficult as stuff usually ends up all over the place on a rolling boat. I do my best to keep my gear together in one spot, reducing the chance of something going astray.


DIVE SCHOOL: Alarms are obvious, but if someone is robbing a commercial building these are usually bypassed somehow. Security guards would be nice, but not too many dive schools make that much money.


HOTEL/HOLIDAY: I become hyper vigilant when on holiday; Wifebuddy often accuses me of becoming overly paranoid in a foreign country. I can’t help it, after our bus driver got mugged in Barcelona; I decided paranoia was my friend.

If I have to leave my gear in a hotel room, I kinda hide it in the wardrobe, in cupboards, under the bed etc.

At the dive centre it’s a bit out of divers’ hands. I hate leaving my regs and stuff in crates, but there isn’t a lot you can do about it; it’s the way most resorts work. I just leave the bare minimum. I empty all my pockets and ensure I take computers, torches, smbs, spools back to the room with me.



INSURANCE

House insurance should cover theft from home, but it may be advisable to check with your broker to make sure it is definitely covered. I have found certain expensive items need to be listed separately; items over £1000 for example. We all know insurance companies aren’t the most accommodating when it comes to pay outs.

Gear stored at home may not be insured?

Specialist insurance can be purchased, but be wary of “restrictions.” Google will throw up plenty of insurers; Scubasure, H20 insurance etc.



ITEMISE YOUR GEAR

Our tanks


INVENTORY: One thing that I have done lately is take an inventory of my kit; a big ass list of stuff.


SERIAL NUMBERS: Nearly every piece of scuba gear, certainly the predominantly expensive items, are stamped with serial numbers. You can simply make a list of every piece of equipment and note of any serial numbers.


PHOTOGRAPHS: I think this is the best way to keep track of your kit. I’m fortunate as this blog is littered with photos of my gear; I even have a post dedicated to my scuba bag!

The advantage of a photograph is that it captures distinguishing marks on gear; scuff marks, blemishes and so forth.

Ensure and take pictures of ALL your gear; even the old boots that are hanging together by a thread; an easily identifiable piece of kit could lead to the recovery of an entire set.

Hydro test date

Make, weight, serial number

first stage serial number

Wing serial number

suit inflate reg serial number

SPG numbers


Photographs don’t protect your gear per se, but in the unfortunate instance of theft, it can be crucial in proving they are yours.



WHAT TO DO IF SCUBA GEAR IS STOLEN


  • Contact police and provide as many details of what was stolen.

  • Post list on scuba internet forums.

  • Place a “Stolen Gear” advertisement on local ‘buy and sell’ websites.

  • Social networking sites can be invaluable for spreading the word.

  • Speak to other divers, in case they have been offered kit for sale at stupid prices.

  • Visit local pawn shops / second hand stores, and leave information of equipment, in case someone attempts to pass it on. 


CONCLUSION


I sincerely hope none of you have had kit stolen, and deepest sympathies to those that have.

I have spent a absolute fortune of my hard earned money on scuba gear, and the thought of some scum bag stealing it frightens the life out of me.

The points above are the best I can come up with for protecting gear and giving a diver half a chance of recovering it, if the worst happens.




Do you have any extra tips or advice? Please post in the comments section below, it would be much appreciated.

6 comments:

  1. Thanks James, glad you liked the post!

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  2. AS always thanks for the post ... I should get down to taking a proper inventory of my kit with serial numbers and photos ...

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  3. Good read especially right before Scuba T and I go to Florida for some diving. Thanks.

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  4. Thanks April; have a GREAT time in Florida!

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  5. Good read. Extra word of caution - check out conditions on your insurance. My car was stolen with dive kit inside as I returned home from a dive one night. Big argument with insurance companies - car vs house. As kit was in car the house insurance wouldn't pay out, car insurance had a limit to the value of goods inside it which was no where near the full cost to replace all the kit, needless to say I lost out.

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Thanks for commenting, I appreciate it!

Safe diving buddy.