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Keeping your Car and Valuables Safe at the Marina

Security concerns have been brought to the McBoat Board after the unfortunate car theft from one of the Marina lots earlier in the year. We reached out to the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office who was gracious enough to provide us with these tips. The entire McBoat Board would like to thank Capt. Briggs for all the hard work he has done putting this information together for us.



Don’t leave anything in plain view (in other words, anything that a person can observe by just looking through the window glass of your car). This includes anything new or old. An old coat on the back seat is a temptation for someone to “smash and grab” (Break the glass of your vehicle and take what they want). Thieves steal first and think about value later. Thieves will smash a car window just to look inside a bag or box to see if it contains anything of value. Even if it contains nothing, you will be left with a broken window or door lock. Take all your belongings with you when you leave the car. If you can’t, lock them in the trunk, preferably before you start your journey. Always plan ahead of thieves, as they can be standing by watching you place items in your car. Leave unnecessary valuables at home.

Never leave the following items in plain view while stored in your car. The alternative and best solution is take these items with you, or leave them at home if not needed for your trip.

  1. Cell phones, GPS receivers, laptops and iPods (or any other type of easy to sell electronics)

  2. Checkbooks, credit cards and debit cards

  3. Cash (including loose change in the ashtray)

  4. Vehicle registration documents (these should always be carried on your person)

  5. Private mail (especially if it has your address on it)

  6. Wallets and purses

Do not make the mistake of thinking that because you live in a low crime area, you can leave items in your car or leave car doors unlocked.

Don't leave garage door activators in your parked car. Thieves will have easy access to your garage and sometimes your entire home if the door from the garage into your home interior is unsecured.


Lock all doors and close all windows and the sunroof every time you leave your car unattended – however briefly. Many cars get broken into in the few seconds that a car is out of the driver’s sight.

You can have special security film installed on your side windows making them difficult to break.


Electronic immobilizers (which prevent the car from starting) are a sure way to put off car thieves. Mechanical immobilizers, such as steering-wheel locks, are a good alternative to electronic immobilizers. They are not expensive and are easy to fit yourself. Commonly called clubs, collars, or j-bars, these devices lock to the steering wheel, column or brake to prevent the wheel from being turned more than a few degrees.

  1. Fit locking wheel nuts, as wheels are often a target for car thieves. Wheel nuts are not expensive and are easy to fit.

  2. An alarm can help to keep your car secure but it must be installed professionally to be effective. If you live in a high theft area or drive an automobile that's an attractive target for thieves, you may get a discount from your insurance company.

  3. You can also purchase a locking gas cap. A locking gas cap means the thief won't be able to put gas in your stolen car - shortening his joy ride.


  1. When you leave your car, always remove the ignition key and lock all doors. It only takes a few seconds for a thief to jump into your car and drive away. Follow this routine all the time, even when filling your car up with gas or just running into the store for a moment.

  2. On icy mornings, never leave your vehicle unattended with the engine running to warm it up or defrost the windows.

  3. At home, always keep your car keys in a safe place that is out of sight and away from windows and doors.


Consider marking all your valuables, especially those that you frequently take in your car. Mark items with your ZIP CODE or some other unique identifying number linked to a recognized database. If any of your valuables have serial numbers, keep a note of them in a safe place. This should help the police return your possessions to you if they are stolen and recovered. It also helps

to convict criminals.


If you have a garage at home, use it. Always lock your car and garage. If you don’t have a garage, always try to park in a well-lit, open place. Thieves always like to steal from cars parked in places where they run the least risk of being seen. When you park your car away from home, always try to avoid places that:

  1. Are unattended

  2. Have easy access

  3. Are concealed from public view

  4. Have many escape routes

  5. When parking in a lot, try not to park next to trucks or other large vehicles which block the view of your car.

  6. When you leave your car with a parking attendant, leave just the ignition key or Valet Key with the attendant. Make sure no personal identification or other keys are attached. Do the same when you take your car in for repairs.


Car-Jacking (stealing a car by force) has captured headlines in the last few years. Statistically, your chances of being a victim of a car-jacking are very slim, and the following preventive actions can reduce the risk even more:

  1. Approach your car with your key in hand and look around inside before getting in

  2. When driving, keep your doors locked and your windows rolled up at all times

  3. Never roll down your window to a suspicious person

  4. Be especially alert at intersections, gas stations, ATMs, shopping malls, convenience stores and grocery stores--all are windows of opportunity for car-jackers

  5. Park in well-lighted areas with good visibility, close to walkways, stores and people

  6. If someone attempts to force their way into your car, blow the horn

  7. If the car-jacker has a weapon, give up the car with no questions asked. Your life is worth more than a car.

If you think you are being followed do not drive home. Drive to the nearest police or fire station or any well-lit store or gas station.

In the event of an emergency call 911, for all non-emergency needs please contact the Milwaukee County Sheriff Office at (414) 278-4788. or visit their website​ for more information

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