It’s a nightmare scenario for any angler, but what are the best ways to deal with fishing tackle theft? From preventative measures to catching the criminals who cause misery to thousands each year, our latest blog post is a must read for everyone!
Having your fishing tackle stolen has to be the one of the worst experiences you can have as an angler. As any keen fisher will testify, the gear doesn’t come cheap. A single rod and reel could be well into the hundreds of pounds, as the thieves are only too well aware. Beyond the pound signs, however, there is also the emotional attachment we might have with items that have been cherished for decades. Typical impacts are stark:
“I had a break in to the lean-to cupboard next to my house. They took my entire fishing youth. Items that I treasured went forever. In several hundred fishery visits, I have never stopped looking.” –Adam Rayner
“My dad had his entire collection robbed, including top sea fishing and match tackle. He could never afford to buy it back and hasn’t fished a match since!” –Alex Clegg
Wherever you live and whichever style of fishing you enjoy, none of us is immune to the risk of tackle theft. But when it comes to stopping the thieves in the first place, or indeed going through law enforcement channels and insurance claims after the event, there are several simple ways all of us can protect ourselves better. Don’t wait until you are the victim!
This blog post aims to share some the best of these with you, with direct advice from Angling Trust experts and those who have learned through bitter experience. These are aimed at individual anglers, but many of the lessons also apply to clubs, fisheries and tackle shop (a checklist is included at the end of this blog post). So where do we start?
1. Get your tackle storage up to scratch
It might sound obvious, but the location of your tackle is the first priority. It could be a garage, an outdoor cupboard or lockable shed. Whichever it is though, make sure locks and maintenance are up to scratch! Two locks are better than one, for example, while areas such as windows and any potential weak spots should also be given consideration. For the sake of as little as £50 a garage defender is also a must.
TOP TIP: If you have especially valuable tackle, such as a very expensive rod or reel, consider keeping this separate from your main tackle storage. A concealed place in your home is going to be much safer than a corner of the garden shed- and if your tackle is stored in more than one place, you avoid the risk of losing the lot in one hit.
2. Take preventative measures
Thieves might be ruthless, but they are also cautious and tend to avoid risky targets. Your gear is sure to be safer if there is a deterrent or three. Anti-theft kit needn’t cost the earth these days, either. Motion sensor lights and CCTV cameras are both sensible if you have costly gear (and with the latter, a fake is better than nothing). For clubs, shops and any larger stores of tackle, an alarm system is also a must. Of course, not having valuable fishing kit on show in the first place is another way to reduce the risk of being targeted.
We would also strongly advise that you invest in security marking technology and indicate this on your property. A SmartWater pack costs only £10 to Angling Trust Members and includes deterrent stickers. For more on the subject of this excellent product Dilip Sarkar’s previous blog on tackle theft is also well worth a look.
3. Vehicle safety
Of course, one of the most vulnerable places for angling kit of the lot is your transport. With the best will in the world, there are times when we are on the road and have to leave some gear in the boot- and a high proportion of thefts are from car or van break ins.
For obvious reasons then, you should try and avoid storing kit in your vehicle where possible. If there’s no other option though, having a means to cover your gear is a real plus. Keeping an old blanket in the back of the car is a great way to conceal any valuables for short periods (above). Some even swear by having some litter on show, to give the message “not worth the bother” (if my wife asks, the state of the car is a deliberate ploy).
TOP TIP: “Avoid the temptation to cover your car in all the latest branded fishing and outdoor gear stickers. These can mark you out as an easy target in laybys and popular fishing spots!” (Thanks to Brian Bean)
4. Avoiding bankside thieves
Of course, tackle security is not just limited to your storage and transport, but can also be a risk on the bank. Sadly, an increasing number of overnight carp anglers in particular have had rods, alarms and other gear stolen. In fact, some companies are already developing anti-theft fishing products (such as New Direction Tackle’s TH9 bite alarm, which has a motion sensor light to deter the would be thief!).
Enterprising tackle companies are now making alarms with motion sensor lights! (Pictured, the TH9 Anti Theft Alarm from New Direction Tackle)
Once again, discretion is key. Try to keep any valuables under wraps where you can- and if you are fishing anywhere that’s a bit dicey or has a reputation for thefts, taking cheaper and smaller amounts of tackle is sensible. Fishing with a friend is good policy, too, especially on overnight missions. That way, one of you can always keep an eye out should the other need to disappear for food or supplies.
5. Get covered… and read the small print!
Fishing tackle insurance is of course the ultimate way to safeguard your kit. It’s perhaps surprising then, that perhaps a minority of us take out full cover as part of our home and contents insurance.
For peace of mind alone, this is well worth considering. Do read the small print and ask any tricky questions before the event, however, because some insurers can be almost as crafty as the crooks when it comes to paying out in full! Of course, it’s also vital that you fulfil your side of the deal, which brings us to our next point shortly…
TOP TIP: “I was broken into 10 years ago. Luckily I was insured- but I lost out on some of the smaller things I’d omitted. So it’s definitely important to specify the correct amount of cover for outhouses etc on your home insurance policy. Most keen anglers probably have between 5-10k of gear, so it soon adds up. None of us like to pay higher costs, but you’re better covered than not!” -Stephen Hall
6. Make an inventory
Do you have any records or listings of your fishing gear and what it cost you? Should you have the misfortune to suffer a break in, this could be vital to serve as evidence and will be among the first things insurers and the police are likely to ask for.
If it’s a no, why not go through your gear and make an inventory, with item names and rough values. Take pictures of the more valuable items too, especially those with distinctive marks! To many police officers who don’t fish, a rod is just a rod, so including brand names and photos could be very useful indeed for ID purposes. The perfect time to create your inventory is when you give your garage or shed a tidy up (you do occasionally clean your garage, right??).
7. Mark it as your own with SmartWater!
Of course, one of the best ways to protect your gear is to mark it with a security product. These days, thanks to technology, it can be cheap and highly effective to do so, leaving a forensic ID on your tackle- with a system such as SmartWater. This product has a 100% conviction rate in the courts– a statistic not to be sniffed at! In fact, the Angling Trust were so impressed with this product that we have negotiated a special deal for members, which provides fluid to mark several dozen tackle items along with deterrent stickers for just £10 (CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS).
The product works by putting a near-invisible patch of fluid on your kit, which renders it 100% traceable to you. Detectable by UV pen, police often check for this across second hand shops and boot sales, not to mention any suspect or stolen goods they come across. It stands up as evidence in court, too, and has led to numerous convictions.
In fact, many thieves are now aware of it and actively avoid property where they see the SmartWater logo, because they know full well how powerful it is as concrete evidence of theft. For just a tenner, surely it has to be worth marking your prized fishing gear? It could be the difference between losing the lot and having the last laugh when it is identified and a prosecution is secured.
8. Reporting and retrieving stolen goods
We are all aware that police are stretched these days, but is it still worth reporting tackle theft and are officers likely to act? Although sadly a lot of tackle is never retrieved, the answer has to be a definite “YES”! Every single time.
Of course, the response you get and the police officers’ ability to chase up a theft will depend largely on the information you can give them. Having CCTV on the property or nearby, along with accurate records of your possessions and a security marking system such as SmartWater will make a huge difference! This is where records and photos also come in- especially if some items of kit are personalised or unusual. Thieves are not always ultra careful, after all, and it might be possible to trace gear to pawn shops, boot sales, online auctions and other sources, too.
Above all, give the police and insurers as much detail and accuracy as you can, as promptly as possible. There is always hope that the gear will be retrieved- although obviously, clear records and forensic liquid on your gear will help massively in providing proof and aid any prosecution. Again, don’t despair because there is always hope, especially if you can provide lots of accurate information:
“I had the garage robbed when I moved house. Police had the thieves in custody within hours and found rods and reels hidden over the the next few days. All the tackle was then held as evidence, but I got it back about a year later. Stumbling around with a carrier bag full of reels, an arm load of rods and three frozen pizzas in the early hours sort of gave them away!” -Magnus Angus
Last but not least, you can play your part in helping other anglers by always staying vigilant with any dodgy tackle you come across. If you find personalised gear, or indeed items you see that are security marked, at a pawn shop, boot sale or via a private seller, you could always double check, take details or report this. Sometimes it takes months or years for stolen kit to emerge- and even if it is tough to prove theft, handling stolen goods is an offence in itself. Again, this is where a product such as SmartWater comes in- it is concrete proof and a direct link back to you, no matter how long it takes for the goods to be found.
We hope that this blog post has been of help to you and hope that you are never the victim of tackle theft. However, with a little more vigilance and deterrence, every one of us can minimise the risk of what could be a truly unpleasant experience. Please share this post widely with your fishing friends!
Further Crime Prevention Advice for Angling Clubs and Fisheries
Here are some further guidelines from the Angling Trust Enforcement Team, for the benefit of angling clubs and other groups to help keep fishing kit and other equipment safe.
Lock away power tools or valuable small items in suitable secure boxes ideally
secured to a suitable location with bolts or chains.
Suggested security items are available via: www.soldsecure.com
Cover items such as mowers or generators with a cover that will prevent view of the
item. Never leave the doors of sheds or outbuildings open for people to see inside.
Paint the club name and or postcode onto tools such as spades and shovels
Consider the use of UV pens to mark items.
Consider the use of specialist marking such as SmartWater.
- Record on a spreadsheet or in a notebook the make/model/serial number (and include where it is marked and what it is marked with) of all valuable items such as chainsaws and strimmers. Keep the receipt and or invoice in a safe place.
- Consider registering items with an ID number or serial number with Immobilise
(Find out more)
- Put up stickers or signs to show property is marked on outbuildings
Consider the installation of suitable CCTV or cameras at your fishery and the erection
of signs explaining‘CCTV is in operation’. If you see suspicious people on the site, report it! Don’t share it!
Be careful about who you discuss the location and description of fishery equipment with. Don’t tell people who don’t need to know! Don’t share keys or codes with people
who don’t need to know. Change codes regularly.
Check that the insurance you have in place covers the contents of sheds or
out buildings on your fishery from theft. If club members store valuable equipment at
their own houses or businesses, check that the item is covered by insurance.
Perimeter & other security measures checklist
Ensure the perimeter fencing and any gates to the storage areas you have in place are as secure as possible.
Check padlocks on gates and car parks are secure and change the key and or codes frequently. Check storage areas or outbuildings. Is the padlock secure? How many people know the code or have access to the key? Does this need reviewing?
Are the locks secure? Check if any screw heads are visible if so cover them to
prevent removal of the lock.
Do hinges have exposed screws? Can you remove the hinges easily? If so, replace them.
Are the windows secured with locks? Consider covering any windows with grills
or wire mesh and screen the view inside the window to prevent people seeing
into the building.
Consider the installation of a door stop.
Consider the installation of an appropriate alarm. The installation of an alarm may
help with insurance costs and future claims.
Join Neighbourhood Watch
Become part of the solution in your area.
Join Angling Alert
Share suspicious sightings and information (see www.anglingtrustalert.co.uk)
Contact the police
Make contact with your local Police and request Crime Prevention advice. Record the
name and details of your local Neighbourhood Police Officer or PCSO and develop a
If you need further advice the Angling Trust Fisheries Enforcement Support Service
may be able to help. Contact the Regional Enforcement Manager for your area
Midlands: Kevin Pearson – firstname.lastname@example.org
South West: Nevin Hunter – email@example.com
South East: Dave Wilkins – firstname.lastname@example.org
North East: Giles Evans – email@example.com
North West: Dave Lees – firstname.lastname@example.org
Eastern England: Paul Thomas – email@example.com
Remember, if you see anything suspicious report it!
Call the Police on 101 or in an emergency call 999.
(Issued by the Angling Trust Fisheries Enforcement Support Service)