New TX Parks and Wildlife Unit Fights Boat Theft and Registrat - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

New TX Parks and Wildlife Unit Fights Boat Theft and Registration Fraud

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POTTSBORO,TX---- The summer season starts at the end of this week. This most-likely means more people will be heading to the lake, but with Texas being ranked in the top three states with the biggest amount of boat theft, they need to be careful. This year, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has created the Marine Investigation Unit to help prevent boat and watercraft theft.

When it comes to boat theft in the state of Texas, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department reports that there is only a 10% chance that your boat will be recovered after it's stolen. This statistic can be frightening, especially when compared to the recovery rate of stolen vehicles, which is 70%.

"In the Texoma area we do get a fax when boat theft occurs," Highpoint Marina's Vice President of Operations Scott Hayward said. "There are insurance companies that track it and release the information to all marinas."

Hayward said he typically receives about seven to eight of these stolen boat notifications a month, but that thanks to several safety precautions, theft really isn't an issue at Highpoint Marina.

"We probably have 40 people out on the property and they're trained to ask questions to strangers and to look for anything shady," Hayward said.

The marina also uses gates with codes, allows boaters to set up cameras on their boat slips and works closely with the Texas game wardens. This year, nine game wardens are working in the Marine Investigation Unit that has been set up to help to fight boat and watercraft theft.  In this unit, the game wardens serve as the regional contacts for all marine theft.

Boater registration fraud will also be one of the main focuses of this unit and game wardens will be checking boat registration numbers with their paperwork to cut down on this type of fraud.

The unit has been working together for about one month, and so far, they said they've had great success.

"They've already seen an upswing in the recovery of stolen boats and they've made some pretty good cases already," Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Information Specialist Mike Cox said.