Security System for Canoe on Top

Thanks so much, again, for all the previous advice on choosing a canoe.

If you can share your wisdom about securing it from theft so I can get a good night’s sleep while on the road to some wonderful lake, I’d appreciate it.

Thanks, again.

Well, nothing will stop a motivated thief, so it’s best to just make it hard to steal.

I take one of those bolt cutter proof bike cable locks, and wrap it around a thwart and the crossbar on the car. Just measure how long a cable it will take for your boat and car, and go to a bike shop to find the right length.

Two or more points on the boat
are even better, such as seat and thwart, as it just would take more time for a thief to get through them.

Also, it helps to park in more visible areas. If I need to stay at a hotel on the road, parking near building entrances/exits generally have better illumination, and frequently security cameras. They tend to deter thieves.

Also, stay out of truck stops. There was a ring in Wisconsin a few years back that were heisting boats and throwing them in semi trailers; about 3 minutes to cut the boat off the car and be off.

Chained up
I use two different things to lock it. One is a bicycle cable lock and the other is a hunk of log chain and a good padlock. Both only go on when I’ve stopped for the night so it won’t damage my SUV.

My system is to make it look ugly,
distinctively ugly.

Get some Krylon Fusion spray paint in contrasting colors, and paint random swatches of color, inside and outside the boat.

Not cable
Cable is the worst choice as it can be easily cut. Hardened chain is best. Cables have the lowest security rating of all. As far as lock go take a look at youtube and see just about every lock be picked in seconds with an ordinary lock pick. Best lock is an Abus Granit series lock. It cant be picked with ordinary lock pick BUT it can be picked but with very special tool that most wont have. Look on youtube again. BUT the lock is pricey retails around 95 bucks but I found one on sale a few weeks ago for 56.

So for a canoe I would get a few feet of Abus hardened 3/8 covered chain and the Abus Granit lock the smallest one they sell which is rather big even though its the smallest one they sell. If you want uncutable chain you need to go to 15mm thick, huge chain. But 3/8 will stop all but the biggest of bolt cutters.

Oh as cable goes a small pair of side cutters can naw away at cable and they fit in a persons back pocket. I tried it to see if it was possible, it is. Oh I recently made my own kayak lock setup and did a bit of research on the subject. Of course it comes down to the weakest link and that might be what ever you wrap the chain around.

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Well, one needs to weigh the options

– Last Updated: Apr-24-14 9:50 PM EST –

You say a cable is easy to cut with bolt cutters (not necessarily true, some will tend to mash up rather than cut), and locks can be picked, but what's a casual low-life thief more likely to have, bolt cutters or a hacksaw? How about the likelihood that he's equipped and able to pick locks compared to his ability to use a hacksaw? Anyone with a hacksaw and two good hands can cut slots for your locking chain/cable to slip through in one minute, and most likely less (a weakling like me would need about 30 seconds to make one cut through a Yakima or Thule cross bar, and a minute to make two cuts, while a strong person with a new, sharp blade could make the two cuts in half that amount of time), and a hacksaw can take all four towers off your roof in a couple minutes, much less if they are mounted to a factory rack. Pick your poison - nothing is foolproof - but I'm betting a "good" cable and decent lock will be enough in most cases, especially since those parts aren't even the weak link, not when there are other things that can be cut quickly and without skill or special tools. For that matter, the locks which "prevent" disassembly of Yakima racks can be popped with a screwdriver in the blink of an eye, meaning the cross bars can be slipped out of the towers without doing any cutting at all, and of course a lot of racks don't have locks at all. In either case, the whole idea of using bulky chains to attach the boat to the rack is pointless, though if you've got about 60 or 80 pounds of that super-tough chain, you can loop it around one of the vehicle's suspension members or around the frame (if your vehicle has one), but that's only if you've forgotten how easy it is to unbolt the thwarts and seat of the canoe! Realistically, all you can really do is try to make it tough for someone who's acting on impulse.

I would avoid cable
If you look into Bike forums, everyone says cables are the worst option and not to get a cable type lock. By far the easiest to cut through. A small pair of side cutters can do it, no need for big bolt cutters were 4 foot long bolt cutters would be needed to cut 3/8 hardened Abus chain. Oh don’t by regular Home Depot chain, even grade 80 cuts like butter.

Oh I tried cutting the chain I got with a hacksaw as I bought an extra foot to test it. Dulled my hacksaw blade right up plus I had the chain in a vise to hold it while TRYING to cut with brand new hacksaw blade.

I agree there is only so much you can do but I don’t think 3 or 4 feet of chain and a good lock is out of the question. Much harder to lock a kayak but canoes have things you can loop a chain around easy enough. I would go for cheap Home Depot chain over even 10mm cable.

Kinda overkill…

– Last Updated: Apr-24-14 11:45 PM EST –

Even the cheapest lock and chain will probably not be the weakest link. If you're chaining it around the thwarts or bench seats, all a thief needs is a screwdriver and pair of pliers on the average plastic or glass/Kevlar canoe, because one phillips head bolt per side is all that attaches the thwarts and seats to the canoe hull. On both my solo Wenonah and Old Town Penobscot, my only choices are the thwarts and seats with that one bolt connection, or through the handle on the end cap, which is plastic that you can cut in about 15 seconds with a hacksaw, though it would slightly lessen the value of the canoe, I suppose.

Bicycle lock and cable is good enough to discourage the casual spur of the moment thief, and not much of anything is good enough to stop the calculating and determined thief.

Kinda missing the point
I can’t see why you keep focusing on things such as how difficult it is to cut a good chain with a hacksaw. You really CAN cut a slot in the rack itself just as easily as I described, or even simply slide the crossbars right out of the rack after popping the rack lock with a screwdriver. Or, if you have a two or three minutes (which is still a pretty short time), you can just unfasten the thwarts and seats. That’s what I meant by other points in the system always being the weakest link. I can’t imagine that therre are very many people who would actually be stupid enough to try cutting the chain or cable when the things it attaches to can be cut or disassembled in much less time and with much less effort.

No need to overthink it.
Locks and such merely keep honest people honest. Throw a Lasso or something up there, making sure to run it over the boat so it’s highly visible, and park in a well lit high traffic area. Beyond that if you’re really concerned about it, sketchy looking area, etc., take the boat in the room with you. I know that would be a PITB, but not as big a PITB as finding an empty rack after breakfast.

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If you are really that concerned
about someone taking it while you sleep in a room nearby, I think I would be questioning where I was staying. When all else fails, sleep in the car or put some sort of motion alarm on the boat. There are bicycle theft alarms out there that emit an ear-piercing audible if the bike is moved, just google “bicycle theft alarm”. There are even “smart alarms” that send you a message on your smartphone. Looks like about $100 for an alarm. What’s your boat worth? a good quality, well thought out lock/chain-or-cable and an alarm should pretty well cover the long-shot person targeting canoes/kayaks.

Wow. Thanks.

So, I’ll prepare for the casual thief, get an alarm, park in a well lit area and sleep in the car with the dog.

:wink: Great ideas, as usual. Thanks, everyone.

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I have Tugeyes in a couple of my boats, and a bicycle cable lock that will fit thru the tugeye - getting double use out of them that way (the tugeye fittings that is, used fo rthe painters and locks)

even parked in my own driveway, I will lock the boat to the truck - on my Dakota pickup, I have a Yakima Drydock hitch rack - I run a cable thru that, thru the welded loops on the hitch ( for a trailer safety chain)and lock it that to akryptonite U lock, then run the cable from the tugey to the one attached to the rack

than run a second cable around a thwart and back to the rack, so that I have two cables that a thief would need to cut - at least one of the bike cable locks has some kevlar fibers, so it is harder to cut that ordinary plastic coated cable.

on my F150, I run a cable down thru a slot in the bumber, then to the boat

granted that the cables can be cut relatively easily, or the cross bars or whatever, I still think what I do would prevent a “casual” theft.

you can get custom cables made at home depot fairly cheaply - they will swage the ends into a loop for you as well, then just add your own padlock

there are some kevlar or steel whatever lasso type straps on the market as well - you run the lasso end over the bow, a second over the stern of the boat, “clip” the two cables together and then attach that to something solid on your vehicle

it only takes me a couple of minutes to lock the boats up, so if it helps to avoid a theft in any way, I think its worth doing - even in my driveway, which is not a high crime area - I keep my boats in the garage if not on my truck, but if I stored any outdoors, I’d have them locked to a tree

Get some good insurance coverage for your canoe.

If they want your boat, they will get it
If there is a determined thief, there is no foolproof way of thwarting him. It’s the casual, or opportunistic thief who I want to discourage.

I have a cable lock that I wrap around a thwart and the bar on my roof rack. It’s hard enough for me to get my hand in there to unlock it when the boat is tied down, so cutting the cable would take some doing. Of course a hacksaw cut in the roof rack bar would be a quick and easy way to get around that, but hopefully someone hacksawing through a roof rack would make some noise and draw attention.

I have a second lock. It’s a long cable that came with a Bic ski rack many years ago. The cable has a ball on each end and is meant to be run through whatever item you are locking and inside your vehicle or engine compartment. Then then the door, hatch or trunk is closed on it. Someone would either need to break into your car, or cut the cable to get the canoe. Again not foolproof.

If I’m driving around with the canoe on the roof and running into stores or stopping someplace to eat, I think the smaller cable lock will discourage 90 percent of potential thieves.

If I’m parked in a motel or hotel lot, or someplace else overnight where I will be away from the boat, I use both locks. The long cable is run through the handle in the bow of the canoe and I put the ball ends in the engine compartment and close the hood on them.

Again, not foolproof, but hopefully most thieves will pass my canoe by because it’s too much trouble and look for one that isn’t as secure.

I’m new to this - just got a great condition Old Town Penebscot 17 - and about to take a trip. I may be overlooking something, but why not: 1) put a Tile Sport or SPOT Trace (to locate if stolen) in a concealed part of the canoe/kayak 2) Buy a cable lock that has an alarm if the cable is cut?

Obviously they could cut whatever you’re looping it through - but if you really want to be safe you could buy an extra long alarm cable lock and loop it through the handle, thwart, seat, roof rails, and crossbar/rack. If they go through all of that trouble, there is still a decent chance you can track down the location. Ultimately, I agree with the others - you’re trying to prevent spur of the moment thieves, and you’ll never prevent a talented thief - insurance and/or bringing it inside are the best options.