In an attempt to provide increased security for Caribbean charter companies, TMM Yacht Charters in Tortola has launched a state-of-the-art security system to protect its property from would-be thieves. The BVI-police-backed "Marine Marking Initiative" combines covert and overt methods from Selectamark Security Systems to permanently mark property with etching kits.
“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," explained Reynell Fraser, the Police Commission of the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force. "It is virtually impossible to remove the markings and any attempt would seriously deface and devalue the items for resale.”
His comments were received well at last month's press conference, where TMM, Selectamark, the BVI Tourism Board, the Marine Association, the BVI Charter Yacht Society and both marine- and shore-based police departments revealed the Marine Marking Kit to an enthused audience. TMM's base manager Mark Sanders was pleased to see so many island organizations coming together to combat theft, particularly in charter bases.
Selectamark's technology involves covertly marking boats, dinghies, outboards and electronics with a unique HIN that allows that piece of property to be traced back to TMM permanently. These HINs will be applied using RFID transponder tags, a type of stamp that is invisible to the human eye and only viewable using a special data reader. The idea is that if an item is stolen from the charter company and found in another location, the data reader will be able to scan the stamp and trace the property back to TMM.
Just looking at the marked vessels, you would never know they were tagged, because the HIN is impossible to see without the data reader. These data readers are expensive, so it took the support of the whole island to help TMM launch this initiative. Caribbean Insurers Ltd donated two data readers and the Marine Association donated a third. The data readers are dual-purpose UV light/ flashlights and will be used by island police forces when checking car radios that they suspect were stolen from a boat.
In addition to the covert markings, Selectamark has also placed personalized "Thieves Beware" signs around the charter base to deter thieves.
A marking kit for a dinghy and an outboard costs $100, but because the cost of installation has been absorbed by boat owners and the charter company, charter guests will see no change in the price of their booking, just an improved peace of mind.
Over the next few months, TMM will measure the effectiveness of their new Marine Marking Kit system. If all goes well, and many island organizations are hoping it will, the system could inspire a trend across the charter industry, eventually leading to a decrease in dinghy and boat theft.