Ask a motorcycle thief

Dailies, How To -



So earlier this week, the guys over at RideIt had an idea: solicit a motorcycle thief to do one of their Ask Me Anythings. First answered by a cop in London and later an actual bike thief from the US, the results are positively illuminating. Here, we’ve edited the material into something linear and easily digestible. It’s a must-read if you don’t want your bike to get stolen.

The original Ask Me Anything request reads:

- what type of motorcycles did you target and why?
- what’s the best type of security system we can get for our motorcycles?
- how and where should we position chain locks on our bikes so you don’t take bolt cutters to them? how easy is it to cut high quality locks?
- what deters you the most? as in when you see a motorcycle and analyze it for a steal,
- what makes you go “no, not that one.”
- what does a gallon of bleach taste like after you swallow it?

Let’s look at the responses from the cop first:

“The thing is security costs money. Its not a 100% guarantee but it gives your bike a fighting chance.”

Types of motorcycles: “The most popular bikes for thievery are sports bikes and those bikes which you see around more commonly. Reason being in an age of trackers, HPI checks and people knowing much more about how to be smart when they buy a new vehicle (so as not to buy a stolen one) its much simpler for the thief to break the bike up into parts and sell it for parts. In fact only a few weeks ago we raided a house and found 5 motorcycles in various stages of being stripped down.”

Best security: “The most common way of stealing a motorcycle is by lifting it off of the ground and loading into a van. Quick, easy, quiet, once the bike is in the van its invisible, riding it comes with a greater risk of being caught. Plus you don’t even need to know how to ride it. No need to override the ignition. It couldn’t be simpler. We have seen them in the past put a scaffold tube under the front forks and under the back of the bike near the shock and lift it between 4 of them. Even a big sports bike at 200kg is only 50 kg each.”

“For this reason your first priority must be to stop it getting off the ground. Only a good chain, lock and ground anchor will stop this. Ideally you need something which is hardened and 16mm diameter plus. Otherwise they may well be able to cut it with bolt cutters. Which for them is ideal because its quick and very quiet. A good lock is one which is hard to pick and very hard wearing. We don’t see many picking attacks at all, in fact I don’t think I ever have but for peace of mind I use an abloy on my bike.”

“Another good tip, always lock it off tight, don’t leave a lot of loose chain on the floor. If you do the the chain is vulnerable to freeze and sledge hammer attacks.”

“A decent ground anchor should be very solid indeed. The ones which you sink into concrete are best but not realistic for most people unless you’re putting concrete down anyway. A strong bolt down is mostly very efficient. Some are better than others. I’ve got a hardie ground anchor because you can lift a lorry cab up with it and it won’t break. Another great thing, disc lock alarms. I’ve got two, one on each wheel. If the bike starts moving they go off and make a right ruckus, just what the thieves hate. Also things like alphadot, smartwater, with visible stickers are deterrents too.”

“Ideally garage your bike. If its on a driveway then get one of those PIR security lights. The thieves do not want a “and by the light let your good work shine” type scenario. A dummy CCTV camera is good to, because a lot of thieves will be put off even if they think its a fake.”

“In terms of decent locks the very best padlock that I know of is the Abloy Protec 362. Its what I use. Its got a 15mm boron steel shackle, very heavy duty. Its military grade, used in bank vaults. The Squire 65CS is another good one, although not as hard to pick as the abloy. In fact the abloy is yet to be picked I believe. The abloy is very pricey. Look out for them on ebay. It will be a significant saving for you. Those locks are both very hard to bolt cut. The squire hides the shackle (shrouded). Makes it hard to get any sort of grip on it with bolt cutters. Often you can’t even see enough of it to put cutters on it. The weak point is normally the chain. A lot of manufacturers make lightweight chains you can use around town but are bolt cutter resistant, not proof.”

How to lock up: “Ideally not through a wheel. A wheel is easy to remove. Its great having a really secure wheel but like I say a lot of the time they get sold as spares so through the frame is great. You can’t do that with my bike so I’ve put it through the gap between the engine block and the down pipes then through the front forks which is either going to be quite time consuming (likely set the disc lock alarms off) or very noisy. Lock the chain off tight. What I mean by that is it shouldn’t have much slack between the bike and floor at all. You may have to make a cut in the chain sleeve in order to be able to do this. But its really worth it. If the chain is loose on the floor its much more vulnerable to sledge hammer attacks, freeze attacks, wedge attacks and bolt cutters.”

How to deter a thief: “The biggest deterrent is a secure motorcycle. Reason being there are lot of insecure ones out there and they will go for the low hanging fruit every time.”

“Remember what a thief doesn’t want is to be caught. Being caught is the biggest hazard in their line of business. Business is how most of them see it. Make your bike more risky than other bikes and they’ll go for easier pickings. Reminds me a while a go I was on foot patrol and saw a lovely Ducati 916 with a chain through the back wheel, not attached to anything. I did give the owner some advice and it was heartening to see that he did take it on board. Ultimately your goal should be making getting caught in the act as likely as possible and the maximise the time it would take to steal the bike.”

“The point is, the more trouble the thief has to go to the longer its going to take. The vast majority of thieves got for the low hanging fruit. This is about not making your bike the low hanging fruit.”

And here’s what the thief has to say:

“I’m not exactly sure how I ended up with this life. I was basically a normal American kid who was very shy and did well in school. My best friend was basically a dirtbag and he made it seem cool to be a dirtbag. I started off dropping him off at bikes to steal, then scouting out bikes for him to steal, then helping him steal bikes, then stealing them together.”

“I figured out quickly that the guys we sold the bikes to made more money and assumed far less risk so I saved my money so I could get on that end of things.”

“I considered myself small time but I was involved in the scene for over 10 years. While my name was brought up in investigations I was never charged with a crime related to this business and I never “informed” on anyone. I quit when I felt the risk exceeded the reward. Maybe it was the guilt, the shame, maybe I was just finally growing up. I lived a lie for a long time and even if no one knew it I was painfully embarrassed inside because of the life I had been leading. I love motorcycles and I was the man responsible for that sickening feeling you have when you wake up to realize your baby has been stolen and I was responsible for it A LOT. Towards the end I would sleep in sweat pants and a hoodie because I knew any day my door was going to be kicked in and I wanted to be comfortable as possible in jail.”

“I’ve been out of it all for 4-5 years and I still am trying to figure out how I became that guy.”

Types of motorcycles
: “Mostly supersports. They are the most commonly crashed and generally the easiest to find (left outside in nice apartment complexes) Next would be Harleys and for a brief moment in time the high dollar choppers.”

Best security: “Never, ever, never never never, NEVER leave your bike outside at an apartment complex. Especially one with a gated parking garage. The gated parking garage in a mid to high rise apartment building in the nice part of a large city is the number one place for bike thieves to go ‘shopping.’”

“As far as passive devices go I like the NYC fughetaboutit chain/lock from Kryptonite, the thicker of the two. It needs to go through something like a braced swingarm whenever possible. If you absolutely have to put it through a wheel put it through the rear wheel. It takes much longer to swap than the front wheel. Any $100 disc lock will work well, again, rear wheel, locks on the front are more easily defeated, take my word for it. Cheaper disc locks can be quietly, well, we’ll leave it at that, cheap ones can be defeated in silence.”

“Lo-jack and Lo-Jack w/early warning are pretty good at recovering the bikes from amateurs and semi-pros, but someone who knows what they are doing will remove the lojack system quickly after clearing the area. Still someone even more professional (surprisingly rare) will have somewhere to check/store/breakdown the bike that is rf shielded. The problem with lo-jack is that it doesn’t keep someone from stealing the bike. Even if you get it back in one piece without the police crashing into your bike to catch the thief you’ll still likely have a broken upper triple, damage to the neck of your frame (Steering lock), damage to your ignition, damage to the tank lock, possible damage to the tank itself (rareish) possible damage to the trunk lock , and then your insurance company might fuck you too. It’s much better to not get the bike stolen in the first place. So in addition to lo-jack you want some sort of VISIBLE passive devices to make the thief move on. The paging alarms are somewhat effective, but they aren’t linked to the police. Removing electronic devices is obviously more of a mental challenge than a physical one. The quality of the install is a huge factor here. Hide the lo-jack or alarm in or under the airbox and all the wiring within the factory looms and you’ll have a good set up. However, almost NO dealer tech is this thorough. It’s not his bike, why would he go the extra mile?”

Best locks: “Of the dozens of [thieves] I knew over the years I only came across one like this, but I knew someone that had a pair of bolt-cutters that weighed a lot, more than a 45lb plate at the gym, and had replaceable cryogenically hardened teeth. They cost several hundred dollars. The high dollar chain lock sets $150+ are worth it. Even the high dollar braided cable locks are good. They can be cut, but it’s a pretty time consuming process.”

What makes you pass over a bike? “Personally, if it’s rashed up, looks cosmetically rough, but mechanically sound. Say grips are worn, been dropped on both sides, but the chain is clean and well-adjusted, tires worn hard on the edges, has any signs of safety-wiring for the track etc. It’s lack of value isn’t what I’m looking it. It would remind me of myself once upon a time. I think that’s probably all he’s got, his whole world, it’s not pretty, but he rides the piss out of it. He gets a pass.”

“More for most people, just what takes time. I’ve known very very few stone cold guys that can sit there for an hour working on a bike. Most people will give it a few seconds, maybe a couple minutes, and if they can’t get it they are gone. What is only seconds feels like an eternity when your freedom and life are on the line. Quality disc lock on the rear wheel, quality chain and lock, lockable bike cover and theft coverage on your insurance. For me, lo-jack isn’t worth the cost. It’s more expensive than theft coverage and after a thief has had his way with the bike I don’t want it back. All can fit in a back pack and aren’t much of a hassle to carry. Never leave it outside very long day or night.”

Security tips: “If you’re temporarily parked outside somewhere a good little FREE anti-theft trick, bring a stubby flathead with you and remove your clutch lever. No clutch lever and they aren’t riding anywhere. Of course if you do this every night outside your apartment they’ll just come back with their own clutch lever.”

“LOCK YOUR FUCKING STEERING – DON’T LEAVE YOUR SPARE KEY IN YOUR TRUNK. I can open your trunk with a butter knife, don’t leave me your fucking key in there, jesus. Happens more often than you think. Also, don’t leave your TITLE in the trunk, i’ve seen this too often too. Steering locks aren’t that hard to bypass, but they aren’t THAT easy either. Sometimes you get the freak one that doesn’t want to break and you’ll need to come back with a second person. In that time maybe the owner sees the bike and the thief doesn’t get it. Had it been unlocked the bike would be gone.”

“Again, if you park outside of an apartment and your bike gets stolen, rent a fucking garage or self-storage unit near by to use as a garage. The thief is just going to wait a couple weeks for insurance to replace your bike and come back to check. If someone tries and fails to get your bike the same thing applies. Move it, they WILL be back.”

How much do you earn per bike? “It varies depending on yr/make/model/condition. About 10-12 years ago there was an out of state buyer we used to crate bikes to that had the ability to create titles for them who paid $3500 for near new 1000cc supersports. 1,000-1,500 is more typical for super sports. Harleys vary quite a bit depending on model and options, from 1,000 for a basic late model sportster to several thousand for a highly optioned fat boy, road king etc.”

Ride ‘em or van ‘em? “There is this common misconception that a few guys load bikes into trucks and vans. The people who get CAUGHT load bikes into trucks and vans. Your career will be very short if you’re loading a 185mph rocket (that likely has a tracking system) that will outrun the police into the back of an 85mph van that will take you to the scene of your arrest. If you can’t start the bike and ride off then you damn sure can’t find and remove lojack.”

“In 10-15 years I’ve known a couple dozen thieves and only one that was foolish enough to load bikes into a truck or van for any length of time. He learned to wire them after he was caught, twice, lol.”

“I was taught to never ride a hot bike anywhere you didn’t absolutely have to and to ride strictly by the letter of the law. You don’t get it if you don’t have somewhere to take it, you don’t ride like a jackass and risk your money/freedom, it’s not a bike, it’s a job, and it’s payday. Generally you got the bike, rode it straight to your destination, and broke it down.”

A final word: “The majority of thieves aren’t that smart and half of those are on drugs, please don’t be dumber than they are.”

  • nick2ny

    “Personally, if it’s rashed up, looks cosmetically rough, but mechanically sound. Say grips are worn, been dropped on both sides, but the chain is clean and well-adjusted, tires worn hard on the edges, has any signs of safety-wiring for the track etc. It’s lack of value isn’t what I’m looking it. It would remind me of myself once upon a time. I think that’s probably all he’s got, his whole world, it’s not pretty, but he rides the piss out of it. He gets a pass.”

    That’s a cool quote, honestly.

    • fasterfaster

      As I read it, I thought he was casing my bike. That’s it, to a T.

    • tbowdre


    • Dan

      That’s horse shit. How many people do you know that are lukewarm about the bike they own? Probably none. Ours is a sport that breed obsession. Frothing, foaming at the mouth, risk life and limb obsession. I’m willing to guess that everyone’s bike is their baby.

      The idea that track riders are less deserving of theft (and by extension, that other riders deserve to have their bikes stolen more) is outrageous. Worse still is the idea that people want to high five this guy for giving preference to a subset of the community. HE STOLE MOTORCYCLES FOR A LIVING. It’s not “cool” that he wouldn’t have taken you bike, because he just went down the street and took someone else’s. You don’t have something in common with him because you share (as many of us do) this publication’s mild distain for Harley riders and a belief that some don’t use their bikes as much as they “should.”

      Sportbikes vs cruisers, track vs street – these are differences to discuss at bike night with other riders. This guys activities are totally different- they are a threat to your enjoyment of riding at all. Motorcycling is supposed to be a community, something shared by everyone who rides on two wheels. There is nothing more anathema to that than someone who literally spends his time stealing bikes from people. Every one of those bikes was probably important to the owner. What makes me most upset about this guy is that he’s a rider himself, so understands the heartbreak he caused. Lauding him for giving a preference to some is not the appropriate response.

      • JVictor75

        Amen! A bike thief is a bike thief.

        (Self edited to remove pointless spittle flecked outrage – Let’s just say that I disagree with a thief’s worldview as well as his/her possible future ability to perform his/her livelihood and leave it at that.)

        Yeah, I crack jokes about the t-shirt and momjeans wearing biker crowd just as much as I do at the flatbiller metal mulisha guys.

        But at the end of the day, we ALL ride and enjoy motorcycles, and it IS a community (albeit a wide and wonderful one that can encompass Paul Teutel Sr as well as people like John Britten, Michael Csyz, and Erik Buell.)

        Singling out one type of person in any community for either acceptance or ostracization based on perceived income levels or perceived “levels of dedication” is just as bad as doing so based on race, sexual orientation, or appearance.

        Leave the rah rah class warfare shtick for the fucksticks in Zucotti Park, Washington D.C., and Fox news. They don’t need your help in sowing discord.

        • Gene

          Heh… I remember the article in Performance Bikes about 4 London dockworkers (BIG mofos) that would put out a “ringer” and sit in a van waiting for someone to try to steal it. They all had bikes stolen from them.

          The PB letters section went batshit for those guys. I think all of England and half of Ireland would have bought ‘em beers.

          I’ve had 2 bikes stolen, 2 friends have had bikes stolen, and 1 friend that had his Kan-o-tuna’s wiring loom destroyed.

          Motor officers caught a little black kid on my Hawk GT, and he “fell down the stairs” multiple times.

      • mugget

        I can see why someone would say it’s a “cool quote” (it’s nice to think that even bike thieves have a certain “code of honor”). But no one is saying that thieves are are “cool” or justified.

        The thing is this – if you knew a guy who had his 2011 GSX-R1000 stolen, but had a brand new bike a couple of weeks later after his insurance payout – as well as a guy who couldn’t afford insurance and rode a beat to hell 2001 R6 because that’s all he can afford; who are you going to feel worse for when their bike gets stolen?

        • Alejandro Zapata

          This, agree, I got that too, I just know that feeling too…

          Imagine this, at my University, there are two guys, both ride bikes, one rides a 500 VFR, 1985 or 1986, it looks pretty beat up but you can tell every month or so, something gets painted or replaced for something better, small things, be it F2 rims, or new (original-looking) mirrors, chain, something…

          The other guy is a guy who rides into school in a brand new Monster (first bike) in his Ducati-brand leathers and Rossi replica helmet, the bikes been dropped more than a couple of times, and all he does is go to the dealer and get new parts, new leathers and helmet and keep at it…

          Who would you rather strike up a conversation about bikes with???

          I know the second guy and have talked to him, he doesn’t give a flying fuck about bikes in general, he only knows Ducati (I’m a Ducati fan myself but I’m not this blind) and he thinks anything south of an 848 is shit, including his own bike…

          I wish I knew the first guy just to find another guy who truly gives a shit about bikes and loves his own, no matter how old, slow or rashed it may be…

        • JVictor75

          I hear what you’re saying, and yeah it sucks that rich douchebags can afford Ducatis when they don’t know what it means to have to work hard enough to afford one. But the thing is, there will ALWAYS be rich clueless douchebags around to be envious of. For one, not all rich people started out that way, and a good way of not ending up as a rich person is to live beyond your means. So if you spend time and effort tilting at windmills being envious of people with the means and willpower to work to protect their investments you wont have any strength or willpower left yo enjoy your own life.

          So I’m going to stick with my initial assessment and say that Id feel worse for the guy that worked hard and saved up enough for the bike AND the full coverage insurance policy. Because that guy more closely resembles me, and I like to think of myself as a responsible adult first and a motorcycle enthusiast second.

      • nick2ny
    • Luke

      You are a douchebag

  • the_doctor

    Interesting stuff. I am more inclined to follow the thief’s advice over the cops, even though I should be more inclined to trust johnny law.

  • Skank NYCFastest

    This guy is a total amateur, full of shit, and gives bike thiefs a bad name.

    • Grant Ray

      Ha. Care to share those ex-pro tips?

      • ontheroad

        I smell a follow-up feature. I think we’d all be interested to read Skanks perspective.

      • Skank NYCFastest

        Lots of loop holes in this guys bullshit.
        Everything is said will work…if a amateur is trying to steal your bike.
        All disk locks are a joke for a pro. Just unbolt the disk, hang it with a shoe lace and bye bye motorcycle. You can even ride.
        Gated apartments? Those are the worst. Lots of windows and possible prying eyes, unless if the bike is in a perfect spot.
        Clutch lever? A pro is ready with extras or vice grips. They even carry ignitions switchs with keys, snapping the fork lock is a joke and some bikes you can plug in the ignition switch for the side plastic.
        Like I said a “pro”.
        Jo-Jack? Most bikes are stole at night while youre having sweet dreams of riding the next day. While your dreaming your Jo-Jack and bike are already in pieces.
        Garages are the best places. Not only do you get time to work on stealing the bike in private but all the extras that come along with it like gear and tools. Big score.
        Best place to keep your bike is in your own fenced in back yard garage with a couple of Rotties or Pits. Thieves hate big barking dogs. I use to leave my garage wide open all night long knowing the risk. My 160lbs Rottie and 80lbs Pit did the job.
        But if you are going to park the bike in a garage make sure it secure with a few locks and make sure the locks are mount at the top of the door, that will make it very hard or impossible to cut with bolt cutters. And inside the garage some rebar cemented in the floor with the best chains and locks money can buy. And a garage alarm wouldnt hurt.
        If you park on the street it doesnt matter what you got. 2 guys, 1 van, day or night and your bike is gone. Day time works better some times. People think who the hell is going to steal a bike right now in front of all these people and no one bothers to call the cops. A pro doesnt make it look obvious. Ive loaded up my bikes and friends bikes on busy streets,never once got pulled over or asked what we were doing. So if you think your safe because its day time your wrong.

        And the majority of professional bike thieves are not on drugs. They are thieves and want to get paid for their risk and goods.

        • ontheroad

          Seems very true about daylight/street parking/van use. I remember a guy had his DRZ stolen right in front of the shop on 6th Ave & Prince at lunchtime on a weekday. Went out for a smoke after lunch and it was gone.

          Of course, of any city I’ve spent time in, NYC had the highest rate of bike theft by far. Thieves in the right part of town probably won’t even wait for you to park it.

        • Gene

          Hell, once I was pushing a bike through the local university parking lot and TWO cop cruisers passed me by, no questions asked. This was with no helmet or jacket back when Florida had a helmet law (edit: and 3am) so it should have looked a little suspicious. Cops are useless. But you knew that.

        • DavidMG

          Not surprisingly, this post is more of a snippet of the kind of life this kind of people lead than the article itself.

        • Ben W

          My takeaway: have good insurance coverage. A pro will get it if they want.

          • Jesse

            Pretty much. Locks keep honest people out.

        • Dylan

          so youre trying to say my bike isnt safe in my garage….in a residential neighborhood….with locks on all the doors. But somehow its safe in my backyard with my dog? Sorry I agree with all your points except I call bullshit on that one. No theif is going to go through the hassle of breaking into my garage through 2 deadbolts or break into my house to get into the garage. They will much rather go down to the University apartments and steal any of the bikes sitting on the streets with their disk locks. Unless your garage is a tin shed made out of 2x4s and aluminum sheeting Im willing to bet most theifs wouldn’t think twice before walking away.

          • Skank NYCFastest

            Read it again. “Best place to keep your bike is in your own fenced in back yard GARAGE with a couple of Rotties or Pits”.
            If the dudes I used to associate with wanted your bike, those 2 deadbolts wouldnt stop them or coming in to your home. Blocking your garage with your car wont help either. Theyll take your car out of spite or use it to loaded up all your stuff thats in the garage. And theyll take the bike at the University on the way home too. More bikes means more $.

            • Dylan

              Oh my bad Skank. I guess I should read more before commenting haha. I still don’t worry one bit about my bike in my garage. But I live in the suburbs and am surrounded by hundreds of houses. Unless someone has been staking out my house or following me home I dont think they would even know I have a motorcycle. The University is like 10 miles away, I dont really see them coming up to where I live when there are such easy pickings is what I was saying. But I see your point

              • Skank NYCFastest

                All good. Just telling how it is. Amateurs like this guy go for the easy stuff, not so risky.

    • Liquidogged

      Yeah, because people who steal bikes are otherwise awesome and cool. Stealing bikes from people who love and care for their rides is fun and profitable. Fuck them if they forgot to lock it one night. While we’re at it, fuck anyone on the highway who gets in your way at 3am, right? Fuck’em all. You’re the man.

      • Kevin


      • Skank NYCFastest

        ooh shut your mouth you whinning cry baby. Im trying to help people from losing their joy.

        • Liquidogged

          Skank, take a look at what I’m actually replying to. It’s this: “This guy is a total amateur, full of shit, and gives bike thiefs a bad name.” I don’t have any comment on your anti-theft tips, except that I think it’s weird for you to offer advice on HFL, since most of your time here to date has been spent being a combative, infantile troll.

          • Skank NYCFastest

            Sorry but I have other things to do beside commenting on every piece thats posted here like riding my extremely fast and hooked up ZX10 at extremely high rates of speed on public roads. When I see something worth commenting on, I comment and you reply.
            BTW, keep your eyes open for my 1199S vs S1000RR vs ZX10 video and review coming soon.
            I share the YouTube link with you when Im done.

            • Liquidogged

              fuck you are cool!

              • Skank NYCFastest

                Finally you recognized. And Im a badass!!

                • okto

                  second that. you are cool as a motherfucker.

                • Skank NYCFastest

                  And chics dig me.

      • Skank NYCFastest

        And yeah I am fucking cool. And dont get in my way at 3am.

    • Raubert Van Harris

      please, let’s hear more

  • Chris

    The thief’s advice seems more solid & true to my own life experiences knowing low lives in my younger years. Also, the thief here was apparently never caught which means his input is waaaaaaaay more valuable then the cop who only deals with the dumb ones that get nabbed.

    Great article, thanks for sharing. I’ve left my Monster in my driveway the last few nights instead of rolling it into the garage out of laziness, good reminder to make the extra effort.

  • protomech

    Nice reporting.

    My area doesn’t have a lot of vehicle thefts, but I think I’m going to at least pick up a disc brake lock for the bike. Parked in garage + disc lock + comprehensive insurance is good enough for me.

  • BigRooster

    Good stuff to know when you are ready for a new bike and having toruble selling the old one. Just kidding. Good insight and fun read.

  • Squid_Squidly

    lol I regularly leave my bike in the driveway with the key in the ignition.

    Hey Suburbia!

    ‘Course that’s only for maybe a few hours. And it’s a ninja 250 with 20,000+ miles on it.

    • mugget

      Very scary when that happens… did it last night when I rode my motard over to a friends place. Scary stuff when you do it on your Gixxer… :O

      • Gene

        After doing that a couple hundred times, I have one of soft plastic coinpurse things for my earplugs on my key. I don’t have anywhere to put my earplugs unless I have my key, so that fixed that.

    • aristurtle

      I’ve done that at work once or twice, but the work parking lot is one of those “show the armed guard your work ID to get through the gate in the barbed wire fence” type of jobs, so it doesn’t worry me too much.

      At home, though, well, it’s the nicer part of Baltimore, but it’s still Baltimore; I find myself checking my keyring randomly throughout the day to make sure the motorcycle key is on it.

      • jp182

        Don’t always trust that. A friend of mine used to drive his Integra GSR and park right next to the gate for about 7 years. One evening after work he came out to find no car at all.

  • David Dawson

    Frankly I’d love to see… [[Edited. Those kinds of hateful statements are not cool. Please don't do it again. -grant]] … My bike is my only form of transportation, made getting to work and school really really fucking hard when some asshat piece of shit stole my first one in January 2010. Fuck thieves.

    • Cockroach

      Thanks Grant. For a second, I thought I was on a motorcycledaily comment thread.

    • David Dawson

      Sorry ’bout that.

    • Luke

      Second thisI had my bike stolen somehow got it back, moved house got a lock up garage and it was stolen again out of my garage. I hate the mentality that its the owners fault when a bike gets stolen. It is never the owners fault, it is the scum bag, low life, waste of oxygen thief who stole it. Us bikers are trying out hardest to prevent our bikes from being stolen and a little more thought and innovation from the police as to how they could help would be nice. Even with insurance its still a loss considering time and extra money put into bikes and the fact the insurance company usually screws you by giving you less than what the bikes worth ( with an excess on top of that). Ive considered baiting by bike with some kind of limb mauling trap just to teach a thief a lesson. I hate them soo much.

  • Campisi

    So… Get a Ural, keep it dirty, and lock the frame to a ground anchor? Sounds good.

    • ontheroad

      the Ural IS the anchor my friend… lock it to itself!

      • fasterfaster

        In Soviet Russia, bike protects lock.

        • Ilya

          You just leave Ural in reverse

          • Miles Prower [690 Duke, MTS 1200]


        • Edward

          hahaha, best comment, faster faster.

        • Tony T.

          Made me laugh, faster faster. Now I really want an ST.

  • mugget

    Very interesting read.

  • Triman023

    I had my 69 Bonnyville stolen and I didn’t know it was gone. Came back from vacation and the Triumph was sitting there with the lock on the floor and the cable missing. We lived in a condo at the time, with a gated garage. The handlebars felt wrong and things looked odd so I lifted up the seat, underneath was a card. The card read ” I am sorry I stole your bike, my dad caught me taking it apart and made me put it back together and return it” In the envelope was $500, his savings. His note said that it was to pay for damages. I told this story to the counterman at Century and he said what REALLY happened was that my wife got drunk and hit the bike with her car, she wrote the note. He has an original view of life..
    The bikes are now in locked garages with motion sensor alarm systems, thinking about floor anchors. Glad we don’t live in a condo or apartment.


      Incredible story.

    • Mark D [EX500]

      Awesome, that’s either great parenting, or a really devious wife. Either way, funny.

  • R.Sallee (Ninja 250)

    Comprehensive insurance, it ain’t that expensive.

    • Gene

      Fuck yeah it is. Especially if you don’t have a car.

      • Tommy


    • Mr.Paynter

      It seems like you guys get robbed blind out there! I pay $50 a month on my ’09 Kawa Er-6N and I have a criminal record for speeding and two claims in a year and a half!

      (Shit I sound like a squid)

  • KR Tong

    Wonder what this guys ebay store is and if he has any hfl discounts on cbr motors. Haha.

    Seems to me like a good method of prevention would be to unplug the wiring harness at a few places. If the bike wont turn on or the fi pump wont prime theyre not riding anywhere. Disconnect clutch cable, take off the small cog, disconnect and remove the tip sensor or o2 sensor, or the fi computer. Install a quick disconnect on the throttle cable/gas line. Remove the battery to stick it on a trickle. Removing something small and easily disconnected sounds like it should work. Then you just need to worry about the crazy guy with a van.

    • JVictor75

      A long time ago I knew someone who was working on designing something along these lines. What it basically did was replace the primary starter/magneto cable with one that had an internal, remotely activated disconnect. Add a severely nervous tip/shock sensor, a stupid loud siren that sounded like a woman screaming, and a way to text a warning to an owner and I’m sure you could sell a few.

  • stempere

    Had my 1.5 year old corsaro veloce stollen a few months back. Parked in the street, back wheel anchored to a pole with a top of the line chain, top of the line u-lock on the front wheel. Alarm + lojack.
    It was gone the next morning.

    Good thing is, my insurance covered the actual price of the bike and the french company that does lo-jack here (Traqueur) gave me the difference with the msrp. $700 for 3 years of coverage from Traqueur, they may not find it but it made the difference between getting almost $20k back instead of $11k.

    Third bike stollen in 3 years, if they want it they’ll take it, just keep the amateurs away with some security and get good insurance.

    • Wes Siler

      Gotta wonder what the market for a stolen Corsaro is. Guess it’s got nice suspension, brakes and wheels that are worth something, the frame, motor and whatnot probably got tossed in the seine.

      • stempere

        With so much work to get it my guess is it’s more likely to have been stolen to be sold in one piece in eastern europe or northern africa, last year a french guy from Lyon saw photos of his Desmosedici ridden exactly as it was same speedo and all in Algeria.
        The guy ordered it for 20k€, and being the son of a local politic figure, was protected.

        There’s several networks of guys exporting bikes over there, italian brands being apparently quite popular.

        • Mr.Paynter

          Agreed, Ive heard similar stories here in South Africa where guys have photographed shoe-less, helmet-less Mozambiquans riding around Maputo on GSX-Rs and similar with the South African plates still on them!

  • Sasha Pave

    Thanks for posting this. Had my monster stolen in sf, disc lock, steering locked. Mistake: leaving each night in same place.

  • Liquidogged

    Great piece. Love the two viewpoints from thief and cop. I like that HFL takes time to consider not just motorcycles, but what it means to really own and live with one.

  • parkwood60

    Luckily for me, what I got no one else wants. Well, I could see someone taking the Passport for a joy ride.

  • dux [87 CBR600, 95 XR600R]

    Yeah! Old motorcycles rule! Less targeted by thieves!

  • 1198freak

    The only thing that might prevent a bike from getting stolen is a good thick hardened chain, through the frame or swing arm, anchored to the ground. Preferably with a gaurd dog in lose proximity. Disc locks, steering locks, alarm, LoJack, all are useless..

  • zero

    I gotta say, this is why I love my beat up old 01 SV650. It’s fun in the city. With the GSXR fork swap it handles and stops well. It wouldn’t be worth much if it were in perfect condition but now it’s rough enough that no one wants it. I parked it on the street for months with no steering lock (before I got the proper top triple for my GSXR swap) and no one bothered it.

    Hooray beater bikes!

  • Ratlanta

    Woul the professionals weigh in on the benefits of wiring in a hidden kill swictch.

    • thecolor

      while I’ve not seen a reply (specific to this question), I have a newer EFI bike; which means you cannot push start it (it requires power) and is essentially the same as a kill switch. Additionally, the security built into my bike requires the FOB be 10(ish) feet from the bike in order to start (I’d say that is the same also).

      That said, it did not prevent the last attempt at stealing my wheels.

      Thankfully I retrieved it, a little was worse for wear.

      After that and reading this, I installed an anchor in my “garage”! (supposed to be secure) :|

      Now (as much a pain it might be) I lock it up every day unless it’s only a few minutes (in the garage) – and I ride every day.

      I also carry a small brake lock for portability (as the Kyrpytonite lock weighs a ton! ;) I know the portable one is not as helpful as the anchor, but it’s a deterrent.

      Anything is an extra step though, so I’d not discourage it.

      If it prevents them from riding it away immediately, then you might get it back easier (even if a little damaged). If they want it though (anchor/lock or not) they will take it and your only fall back would be insurance. :(

  • WhoDey

    i know i’m late to the party but GREAT read. just reinforces what i’ve always thought and pictured making my own “thief check-list”

  • Guest

    i have a vstar 2013 classic .It has a steering lock and immobiliser stock , put in gear, park in sight of people and i use a disc lock & reminder cable when i take to say the shops . when its at home i use all that plus a armoured cable through the body around a pole and its under a cover. would you say its fairly safe ??? thanks its obviously insured also.thx

  • Desean Batts

    Wow I’m glad I came across this page its very informative, especially when I live within NYC, Brooklyn to be exact and being a sportbike owner security was a major concern !, Hey bro it takes a man to admit his faults and a bigger one to accept them you should turn that into a “cash cow” meaning patten a anti theft device for cycle riders and go to different riders conventions and do a demonstation for the manufacturers

  • Alex

    Yeah i feel like an idiot after reading this.. I live in Miami! got my bike stolen at 1:30 in the day!!! I was working on my 95 YZF600R for like 30 mins and i went up to mty apartment to eat and go to work… 20mins later the bike was gone, Someone was watching me,, and waited to STRIKE!! Fuck!! and I could only be mad at myself for not protecting my invesments! I just got it back from the shop.. Just got some Pirelli Diablo tires. New fork seals!! God Damn it!!! it felt like i just got a new bike.. to be stolen the next day!!!!! New bike 13′ cb500f is going to be protected very well!! With all this new found info My bike will be safe!!! Thanks guys!

    • Alexander Dillon

      Damn this is ironic, my name is Alex, I live in Miami and Had my 98 YZFR600 stolen the same way…

  • Guest

    This part I did not understand at all “… The thief is just going to wait a couple weeks for insurance to replace your bike and come back to check. If someone tries and fails to get your bike the same thing applies. Move it, they WILL be back.”

    Q1. What insurance? Why a thief would be looking for insurance?
    Q2. Why would the thief replace the bike?
    Q3. What does it mean ‘if someone tries and fails to get your bike’?

    Can anyone explain please?


  • M Chisty

    This part I did not understand at all “If someone tries and fails to get your bike the same thing applies. Move it, they WILL be back.”

    Can anyone explain please?


  • Jamie

    “The most popular bikes for thievery are sports bikes and those bikes which you see around more commonly.”

    So, Vespas and Ninja 250′s?

  • Joe Jones

    As the former owner of a 24 hour motorcycle towing service in southern California, I have my share of horror stories about my customers’ stolen bikes.

    For one, NEVER park your directly bike under a street lamp or any strong tree limb. The support above can be used to steal a bike quickly and QUIETLY, by tossing a rope over the light or limb support and using one quiet vehicle to lift the motorcycle, while a pickup or trailer is backed beneath the bike. Then the bike is quietly lowered onto the bed and quickly tied down, the rope is cut or released, and away the bike goes.

    MANY bikes are stolen by people who show up looking “legitimate” to a bike “FOR SALE” and convincing the owner to allow a test ride. They either leave a false I.D. or an envelope of fake cash as a deposit. Goodbye motorcycle. If a person hands you an envelope full of REAL cash and asks for a 10-minute test ride, note the odometer reading. If he hasn’t put 4 miles or so on that bike, then chances are he went somewhere local to duplicate your key, and will return later for the bike after he recovers his cash and tells you he wants to sleep on it. If he returns 10 minutes later with only 1/2 of a mile on the bike, ask yourself, “What was he doing all that time?”

    GO-Jacks will allow any bike that has locked steering and a chained rear wheel to be rolled away from it’s parking space quietly in about ten seconds, when one jack has been modified to allow for two tie-down straps at the rear wheel. If you are going to chain your bike, chain it to something that does not move. One of my customers buried an anchor into his lawn. Pick a spot where you will park often, and where a car cannot block the space. Scrape off a section of any lawn for replacement later. Dig a 2-foot long x 3-inch wide trench about two feet deep. Drop a length of 3/4″ steel rebar into the trench. A THICK chain is welded to the center of the rebar, and it is long enough to allow two or three links to protrude above the ground level. Pour some concrete over the rebar if you like, and fill in the rest of the hole with soil and replace the grass on top. Now you have a solid anchor to lock the bike to, at the corner of a driveway or wherever, and the chain can lay over on the lawn and not interfere with a mower.