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Marine Theft sinks in British Virgin Islands

TO COMBAT the theft of and from marine craft in the British Virgin Isles (BVI), a major initiative is being launched today (Wednesday, 31st March) to deter thieves from boatyards and marinas in the territory.

The BVI is one of the largest and busiest yachting charter destinations in the world, with thousands of marine vessels based or berthed there.

The launch of the BVI Police-backed Marine Marking Initiative, which is using Selectamark’s permanent property marking product, is taking place at TMM Yacht Charters in Road Town on the island of Tortola.

The scheme comes in response to the problem of theft from vessels, and theft of dinghies and outboard motors, and has been timed to coincide with the biggest marine event of the year, the BVI Spring Regatta and sailing festival.

TMM Yacht Charters are the charter company who are leading the theft reduction initiative, and they have already marked 50 charter yachts ahead of the launch. The company plans to mark other boats at their bases in Belize and St Vincent and the Grenadines. Meanwhile, other yacht charter companies and marinas have already expressed their interest in joining the initiative as soon as possible.

The Premier and the British Governor of BVI, as well as other dignitaries, and representatives from the marine industry are expected to attend today’s event, alongside Selectamark’s managing director, Andrew Knights, and members of the scheme’s partners: The Royal Virgin Islands Police Force (RVIPF), The British Virgin Islands Tourist Board, The Marine Association, The Charter Yacht Society and Crime Stoppers BVI.

Reynell Fraser, The Police Commissioner of the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force, explained that the initiative will overtly mark valuable equipment items on the vessels using Selectamark’s permanent property marking etching kits.

He said: “Marine equipment will no longer be as valuable to the criminal as it will bear permanent markings which can be easily spotted by any law enforcement officer. It is virtually impossible to remove the markings and any attempt would seriously deface and devalue the items for resale.”

The Marine Police and other Police Officers will have access to dual purpose torches with a UV capability and portable microscopes which will be able to identify the true ownership and origin of any marine craft or equipment by checking the details on a secure database of all marked vessels.

Inspector Patrick Harewood, the Head of the Force Crime Prevention Unit, added:

“The markings will relate directly to the HIN (Hull Identification Number) which is unique to the individual vessel. The dinghies and outboard motors will be marked together with RFID (Radio Frequency IDentification) transponder tags. These can be read externally using RFID data readers, again identifying the dinghy or motor as belonging to an individual boat or charter yard in the BVI. We are confident that this will be a major deterrent to marine theft.”

The Selectamark marine marking kit that has been developed to address the issues raised by the RVI Police Force and other interested parties is one of the most sophisticated available on the market.

Selectamark’s Managing Director, Andrew Knights, said: “Not only does it incorporate Selectamark’s visible marking system, unique microdots that contain details of the vessel’s hull number and hidden RFID chips, but all of this is then registered on Selectamark’s LPS 1224 database. Police are then able to access this database to allow them to check on a suspected stolen vessel or piece of marine equipment at any time of the day or night.”

Local insurance agency Caribbean Insurers Limited has helped to sponsor some of the hardware required for the initiative and will be recommending the Marine Marking Initiative to their client base with an incentive that they will look at reducing the insurance excess on the policies of hundreds of private yacht/boat owning clients as a result.

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