Incidents of theft of aircraft and equipment continue to rise. The market for stolen goods and the ability to use stolen aircraft in illegal activities make this a nationwide problem.
Aircraft are not immune to theft, break-in, or vandalism. Aircraft owners should be aware of preventative measures and what to do in the event of theft or break-in of your aircraft.
Aircraft burglary at general aviation airports is an issue that deserves attention. A natural reaction to aircraft burglary and break-ins has been to increase airport security. Some of the measures have been controversial, as some users see them as excessive and expensive. Increasing security measures must be decided at a local level and the users must carefully weigh the pros and cons. A cost-benefit determination should be made on heightened security measures. The users must address concerns over safety as a unified voice and focus initial efforts to the airport sponsor. Airport users can be divided between burdensome security measures and the benefits of increased protection. For example the FARs do address increased security measures but only for airports that fall under FAR Part 139 and / or FAR Part 107, which are typically non-general aviation airports. If the airport sponsor can demonstrate to users a need for increased security, there are some less restrictive and less expensive security measures the sponsor could consider: signage, security cameras, additional lighting, additional police patrols and/ or a security guard. These are typically much preferred alternatives to other methods of security such as access restrictions, fencing, photo IDs, and security classes. User security concerns must be handled practically and access restrictions should only be considered as a last resort.
Several devices are now available to fit your aircraft that can deter theft or break-in. These products range in complexity from simple locking devices, to satellite tracking systems for your aircraft such as what is offered by Secure Wings Inc.. The Aviation Crime Prevention Institute (ACPI) Web site has more information and a listing of security devices.
In the event that your aircraft or aircraft equipment has been stolen you should:
AOPA thanks our members for their continued support in protecting the freedom to fly.