Saturday, 19 December 2015


Some of my followers may know that at the end of September, this year I was unfortunate enough to get my car broken into and over £10,000’s worth of kit was stolen.  Luckily the story has a happy ending as most of the equipment ended up being recovered and my insurance paid out for the remainder, but more of that later.  By reading this article hopefully some of you will be able to learn from my mistakes and become a little bit wiser regarding the way that you look at your equipment and the way you choose your insurance.  So, if the worst was to ever happen you know you’re covered.

Is there anything I can do to ensure the speedy recovery of my equipment?
·     Inventory all of your equipment.  Prior to the theft, I had the majority of my equipment inventoried, and this included small items that could get overlooked such as p-clips tied onto a hose, replacement fixed d-ring on a harness rather than a free to move one, ID stickers etc… Despite this, there were still items I had purchased but not added to my list.  Providing a list of stolen equipment to the police and insurance company was fairly pain free because of this.  If your car was broken into, would you be able to give an accurate list?  Remember to include the cost, a link to the item online, and photos/proof of ownership.  Does your insurance provide adequate cover if it was all stolen?
·    …and remember serial numbers.  Since the incident I have added a serial number column to my inventory spreadsheet.  This may sound obvious but trying to find them afterwards…  Luckily I was able to obtain serial numbers for my regulators and cylinders from my servicing sheets however other items such as dive computers had no record. 
·     Label your equipment.  As some of you may have observed, I use Dive Signs on all my larger equipment, such a DPV, primary light, DSMBs, Peli-cases and cylinders.  All of my other equipment such as spools, fins etc… had my initials written on in a paint pen.  As you can see from the picture below, identification on the thief’s Gumtree advert was easy.
Coincidentally, earlier that month my wife lost her DSMB and reel when diving in Cornwall.  It was located and returned all because of the Dive Signs sticker.
·     Embrace social media.  The theft was carried out the evening before/the morning of a dive trip to Plymouth.  Once I posted my frustration regarding the theft (not only the monetary value of the equipment, but the potential business loss of trade, and frustrations of a ruined weekend) I was offered condolences, requests of what was stolen from other divers/instructors/shops and agency owners so that they could keep an eye out, along with offers of loan equipment for the weekend.  Once I had put together my list, I posted the key items on Facebook and that post was directly shared 68 times, but indirect shares reached nearly 200.  It was also posted on various dive forums.  Within 15 minutes the equipment had been located on Gumtree, I was receiving numerous phone calls from friends and complete strangers informing me, and finally a phone call from an individual who purchased the equipment (prior to realising it was stolen).  To him, and to everyone else who helped locate my equipment, I offer my sincerest thanks.  It just goes to show how close knit the UK diving community is.  And I love it!

What about the insurance small print?
·     How much is insured?  My military insurance only covered £1000 for vehicle contents, and my home contents was £7000 for vehicle contents, despite my overall coverage being significantly higher.  Both policies would have left me short.  How much is your kit worth and where do you leave it on an average diving weekend?
·     Where was the equipment stored?  My insurance only covered equipment hidden in the boot of the car (covered up).  Luckily mine was, however my oxygen set and first aid kit was on the rear passenger seat.  Luckily neither was touched as I may have struggled to claim for these.
·     Physical damage/forced access to the vehicle.  Some insurers only cover forceful entry into a vehicle, however with the rise of key fob cloning my best guess is that you would be fine.  There’s enough evidence to prove it’s common.  Certainly it appeared to be in my case.
·    New for old?  Will you get replacement equipment or monetary value for the current worth?
·       Bottom line, CHECK YOUR SMALL PRINT.

Moving forward
As I mentioned earlier, I was re-united with most of my equipment following a return trip to Southampton to collect it from the Gumtree buyer, and the insurance covered the rest (less excess), including the £750 I paid to the buyer to get it back.  Some may argue why and I am not prepared to go through the details, but I personally believe it was the right thing to do.  The thief/Gumtree seller is known to the police and is wanted for questioning on other crimes but at the time of writing has not been arrested/cannot be found.  I have also taken out specific diving equipment insurance through a specialist (who I’ll not name), which also covers equipment in transit and left overnight in a vehicle.  Are they any good?  I hope I won’t need to find out.

Hopefully this blog may get you to double check your insurance to see if you are covered, or at the very least, itemise all of your equipment.  Insurance is something we hope we never need, but when you do need it, I do hope you’re fully covered.

The boring bit!
All opinions expressed in my articles are my own and may differ to other instructor’s and agency guidelines; by no means are they wrong and I would not wish to disrepute any of them.  This article is for information only and should not replace proper training.

Safe diving!

Timothy Gort
BSAC, PADI and SDI/TDI diver training
l Mob: 07968148261 l Email: l