It’s time to get out to the sun and the sand. The waves are rolling, and they’re calling your name. Presuming you don’t live literally on the beach, that means you’re taking a trip. Either you’re driving to the ocean for the day, or you’re renting a place close to the big blue.
Whichever it is, you’re gonna find yourself under an umbrella, laying out on the sand, with periodic dashes out to play bocce, swim, surf, or boogie board. And there will be gear involved, gear large and small.
There will be coolers and umbrellas. There will be towels and boards of all kinds. There will be sand toys and chairs. There will also be all the things you need: money, cards, phones. And there will be people walking up and down, up and down, through the surf or just above it. The vast majority of these people will be benign.
However, some of them will not be. Some of them will be at the beach looking to steal your stuff. Because once you jump in the ocean, you’re looking for fish, you’re looking at waves: you’re not looking at the dude walking off with your phone.
It’s technically called “beach blanket theft,” and it tends to be more common on crowded beaches. In 2016, Clearwater, Florida police told News Channel 8 that beach blanket theft is “very common.”
“You left your fancy iPod or tablet, computer laying on the towel, that’s something someone might want to take,” Sgt. Corey Lenczden of the Clearwater Police Department says. Forget rolling your stuff in a towel or stashing it in a cut-open tennis ball. We’ve got some real tips about how to keep your valuables safe when you get in the waves.
Bring Only What You Need
Do you really need, for example, to bring cash with you? Where are you planning to spend it? You may, at minimum, need a credit card and a license — and that’s if you’re just visiting, not if you have a “home base.” If you’re staying in a beach house, you might not need to bring anything at all — other than a key.
Lock Up Your Beach House/Condo/Etc.
The time when residents are out on the sand is the perfect time for burglars to hit a rental property. Ditto for cars parked in beach access. Make sure the valuables you’re not taking to the sand are secure.
Bring Your Beach Stuff — Not Your Best Stuff
Yes, you love your Yeti cooler and your Gucci sunglasses. Both are small, portable, and worth hundreds of dollars. At least you can hide the sunglasses — or just wear them — but the Yeti? Keep the big, expensive items at home. Not only can someone walk off with them easily, but they mark you as someone who has money, and whose stuff might be worth investigating further.
Lock Up Your Boards, Too
Do you own expensive surfboards? Amazon has these available for a reasonable price ($30), and you can daisy-chain multiple boards together with multiple locks. Secured to your umbrella, that should keep thieves from walking off with them. When it comes to kayaks, just run a line through the scupper holes, and any accessories such as life jackets, and padlock it to something. Use combination locks if you can, so you won’t have another key to worry about.
You Can’t Secure Everything
You can’t chain up the beach toys; you could theoretically run a chain through the chairs and around the umbrella, but that would be a massive pain. Towels are just towels. Be zen about the about the little things.
Use A Waterproof Pouch Or Beach Safe
But you can’t be zen about everything. A waterproof pouch is a pouch or fanny pack you stuff your valuables in and wear while you’re going in and out of the water. Stylin’. Or you can get yourself a beach safe.
TripSaavy has a list of the top beach lockboxes, which you’ve either got to thread through your umbrella, padlock to your umbrella, or hide out of site, as a thief could easily just take the whole thing. In the end, as dorky as a waterproof pouch might look, it might be the best bet for two plastic cards, a car or house key, and a phone.
Really, when you go to the beach, try not to bring everything and the kitchen sink. The less you have to keep track of, the better. But don’t rely on methods like rolling your valuables up in a towel, sticking them in an empty sunscreen bottle, or burying them, unless it’s an absolute last resort. You may be sorry if you do.