Five Strategies to Discourage Theft While Shore Diving
One of the worst events that can ruin a wonderful shore dive is to come ashore and find that you have been vandalized while underwater. It’s unfortunate that thievery can be quite common no matter where you live or travel, but with a little foresight, you can discourage theft and prevent loss of your possessions and valuables.
1. Lock up and leave ALL valuables in your room safe before you depart for your dives. This includes travel documents, tickets, passports, driver’s licenses, wallets, jewelry, electronics, cell phones, cameras, chargers, and other dive gear such as extra computers, gadgets or dive lights that you don’t plan to dive with for the day.
I know it sounds so obvious, but we’re still surprised to learn of scuba divers who lock their wallets, cameras, cell phones or even laptops in their rental vehicle, only to find the items have been stolen while they were diving! Items stowed underneath the seat, floor mats or in the glove box are not secure from burglars, and car keys left under a car bumper, mat, or inside the wheel shaft are not immune from detection either.
2. Before you depart for your trip, make copies of your travel documents, passports, itineraries, insurance and C-cards, etc., and keep the extra copies in a secure place in your room, separate from the originals. Laminate the copies of your driver’s license, C-card, or other required documents for ground travel.
If you somehow misplace or lose your travel documents during transit, you still have a copy of the originals, which can save time and extra hassle in the long run, especially when trying to depart for home from abroad. You will also be able to scuba dive or rent Nitrox tanks if you somehow forgot your Advanced Certification card or EAN O2 card, for example, when you have these copies laminated and secured in your dry pouch.
3. Take absolutely everything of worth with you underwater. This includes dive lights and tank lights for your planned night dive, even if it is still daylight outside.
By investing in a waterproof dry pouch, you can take your vehicle key and room key – leave all other keys in your room – driver’s license, other necessary documents, and a few dollars with you while you dive. This includes the laminated documents you prepared in advance. Look for a dry pouch that is waterproof at depth and has a secure lanyard which fastens comfortably around your neck or wrist, which you can tuck inside the neck or sleeve of your wetsuit, for instance. A pouch that you simply stow in your BCD can slip out underwater and/or become an entanglement hazard.
4. In advance of your dive trip, purchase inexpensive sun glasses, hats, and toiletries to take with you in your vehicle while shore diving. When you purchase these items, keep in mind that if you don’t mind losing them for whatever reason, then these are the best things to choose.
Do not take expensive eye wear, clothing, jewelry, fancy beach bags, toiletries or Save-A-Dive kits with you in your vehicle when you shore dive. Leave your rental vehicle unlocked and windows cracked, depending on your location.
See if you can borrow old towels or throw blankets from your hotel or accommodations. Most hotels or guest houses have special towels or worn beach towels left behind by past guests that they are happy to loan you for scuba diving.
5. Do bring plenty of water and a few snacks with you for your shore diving. Purchase a couple of large water bottles when you arrive at your destination and refill these and take these in your vehicle. Again, don’t take any expensive or fancy beverage containers with you unless you don’t mind losing them.
If your food and drinks do get stolen, by keeping a few bucks or local currency in your dry pouch, you can easily replace these items when you finish diving.
You may have heard the saying, “Common sense is not so common.” By doing a little preparation in advance, you can dissuade thieves and focus instead on what your trip is all about: enjoying your scuba dives!