A new marine initiative has launched at Salcombe Harbour, south Devon, to raise general awareness of marine crime and encourage as many boat owners as possible to get their equipment marked.

In a joint anti-theft initiative between Salcombe Harbour Authority and Devon & Cornwall Police, the scheme is using SelectaDNA Marine kits to forensically mark boating equipment such as outboard engines, portable fuel tanks, electronic instruments and lightweight dinghies.

Marine property can be marked in a few minutes with the SelectaDNA solution, which contains a unique forensic code. It is virtually impossible to remove the marking once applied and it shows up clearly under UV light. This allows police to trace marked equipment back to its rightful owner.

Visible stickers warning that the boat has been forensically marked with SelectaDNA are also being used as an added deterrent.

Adam Parnell, Salcombe Harbour Master, said: ‘Despite only suffering low levels of marine crime in the estuary last year we want to ensure that Salcombe is not seen as a ‘soft’ target for marine crime.

‘We recognise that marine vessels are sometimes seen as ‘soft’ targets because they are often unattended but this initiative will hopefully deter theft which can be distressing and expensive for the owners and have a detrimental impact more widely.’

The initiative, which launched with a special crime awareness event to which boat club members were invited, complements a recent upgrade of the CCTV system at the Harbour.

Mr Parnell added: ‘If deterrence fails we can better detect and then track stolen goods. Some of the vessels at Salcombe are already marked, but our aim is that up to 100 more vessels in the harbour are security marked as a deterrent and to reinforce the message that marine crime in the Harbour isn’t tolerated.’

Over the coming months, The Harbour Authority will continue to arrange and promote marine marking events at Salcombe to encourage more boat owners to take better care of their valuables.