Angler Armor—New Boat Theft Prevention Technology

PartsVu Xchange Talks Boating spoke with Brian Fox, the founder of Angler Armor.

Brian is a retired firefighter who lives in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, and enjoys the outdoors. He has a passion for anything water-related and is also a gadget guy who loves electronics.

Brian combined his interests and experience to come up with a solution to an issue becoming more of a problem for the marine industry: theft. Boat owners are faced with the increasing prospect of theft of their boats, motors, rods, reels, and other equipment. So, he decided to use his love of electronics to do something about it.

PartsVu and Brian discussed the problem of marine industry theft and how Angler Armor has stepped up with a deterrence and detection system to provide better protection for boat owners.

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What background gave you the knowledge and experience to create Angler Armor?

Brian:  I’ve been interested in electronics my entire life. I’ve always enjoyed taking things apart, putting them together, and seeing how things work.

After retiring from the fire service, I started building alarm systems for boats because of my experience on the water.  

I started studying electronics in high school and continued learning during my Technical College Years. I had never written a line of coding until about seven years ago when I started reading about it, experimenting with it, and teaching myself along the way. My first real challenge was trying to figure out how to make the connection from the phone to the cloud and the cloud back to the alarm system. Much of this technology, including hardware, didn’t exist until a few years ago.

My original prototype and the end product we see today are vastly different in terms of both size and performance. So it’s been an interesting journey and evolution.

In addition to learning a lot, I’ve engaged with people who complement my knowledge and expertise. I work with experts who know their stuff, particularly regarding certain technical aspects of our product.

For example, I crafted the idea for the circuit board. However, a professional designed it and a fabrication house put things together the right way.

I write most of the code. However, a mechatronics engineer reviews my ideas and solves problems related to the processes I have created for our system.

Why is there a need for technology like Angler Armor?

Brian:  Unfortunately, I’ve seen evidence for the need firsthand. I used to fish with my brother, an avid bass angler. We would go to pre-fish for a tournament and drive back to our lodging only to have to unload everything at night so that it would stay safe. Then, we would wake up and have to load everything back up. So, that whole process got me thinking about security options.

One of my neighbors had their boat vandalized, which prompted me to start looking into building my own alarm system.. I started looking online and found a lot of high-end solutions for very expensive yachts or very cheap homemade renditions of a security solution, so I set out to put my ideas together to build an alarm.

After some long conversations with my brother, one of the key takeaways was that I wanted to have a system that could operate with little to no wiring. Easy installation was another essential factor at the heart of my plan. I also wanted a system that could run for an extended period on a battery.

Since starting this project, I’ve had many discussions with people about how theft has impacted them. I’ve heard stories about rods and reels being stolen, and I’ve even heard boats being cut apart so thieves can steal a trolling motor.

Anglers today have a ton of money invested in the contents of a boat, including rods, reels, tackle, and accessories. We designed our product to put a stop to needless theft.

Our approach to preventing theft is a layered approach. For example, if someone crawls into the boat, the vibration sensor will alert the owner about the issue. If they open a rod locker, there is another notification. There’s yet another notification if they try to steal the entire boat by hooking up the trailer. And, again, if the boat leaves a geofenced area, a signal is sent to the owner to alert them of the problem.

Can you explain the geofencing concept?

Brian:  Our system has a pre-programmed geofence area of about five meters. If the boat leaves that five-meter area and travels over the ground at over seven kilometers per hour, then you can track your boat via the app through pins that are dropped every minute. You can track locations using roads or generate a pin with an exact GPS coordinate.

We designed Angler Armor to essentially harden the target. Nothing is foolproof, but the premise is to make it more difficult to breach security. If your boat is alarmed and the one next to it isn’t, the boat with the alarm system will likely be a second choice for a thief.

How many boats are stolen each year?

Brian:  The last year that I have numbers on was 2019 – 4,200 boats were stolen. The unfortunate statistic is that only one in ten boats is recovered. If recovered, the boat may be returned to the owner looking like a piece of swiss cheese because everything has been cut off or stripped away. The number of stolen boats doesn’t include other forms of theft, like outboards, graphs, rods, and other gear.

Angler Armor helps owners with more peace of mind. There are two other important features worth mentioning. First, we built our security system with an ignition notification system to alert owners when someone else starts the boat. We also included a one-hundred-ten-decibel siren that is extremely loud.

Do people steal outboards as well?

Brian:  All of the time. My brother lives in Florida and likes to take his pontoon boat to cruise around the Harris Chain. They keep their boat in a fenced area in their community that stays locked with a security camera. While I was developing Angler Armor, he had both of his ninety-horsepower engines stolen right off his boat. What’s really astounding is that it happened twice to him. So, the threat is real.

What feedback have insurance companies given you about Angler Armor?

Brian:  Like all businesses, insurance companies exist to make money. Their model is to charge premiums and hope to limit their payouts for coverage losses. So they are always happy when they hear about people protecting their assets. Theft deterrent systems protect things. So, insurance companies love the idea of this kind of added protection.

I’ve seen that discounts range from four to twelve percent depending on the insurance company involved.

Have you received any feedback from others in the industry?

Brian:  ICAST was an eye-opening experience. Many people who loved the product approached us, trying to figure out how they could incorporate it into their business models. I spoke with marinas, kayak rental companies, and boat manufacturers, who expressed interest in implementing our system into their asset protection plans.

What separates your product from others out there on the market?

Brian:  Two things separate us from most other alarm systems: price and features. First, our price is on the lower end of the spectrum as far as things go in the marine alarm market.

Our features are vastly different than most alarm systems. For example, we don’t rely on magnetics which requires drilling and installation. Instead, our system is based on vibration detection. Also, most other systems require programming and pairing to make them work. Many of our competitors’ systems are relatively complicated to install, but our system is very simple to install. Everything is effortless to install. We program everything for you ahead of time.

How long do the batteries last?

Brian:  The battery manufacturer says they can last from seven to ten years, but temperature and climate do impact longevity. Other factors also impact battery life, so we don’t necessarily guarantee battery life, but it should last at least a complete season. To learn more about Angler Armor, check out their website at anglerarmor.us. You can also follow them on Facebook or Youtube. Their Instagram page is @anglerarmorus, and they are also on Twitter.

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