How To Prevent Motorcycle Theft

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All the things that make a motorcycle so unique — its light weight, diminutive size and high performance — also make it make it both easy to steal and profitable to do so. Here’s how to prevent motorcycle theft.

Unfortunately for us motorcyclists, we’ve become obsessed with an object that is quite attractive to thieves. Motorcycles’ price per pound are higher than most other objects except the electronics we usually keep much closer, and their parts are of premium value. Unless a crime of opportunity, where this evil-doer see’s your bike with the key left in the ignition and decides he wants it or can sell it to his neighbor, most motorcycle thefts are done for their parts or to be shipped to other countries. This equates to two things. One, that they don’t care much about the how well you care for your bike and will laugh at your chain when they toss your bike in the back of a pickup. Two, that more common bikes are more attractive, because those forks they’re about to pull off will have more potential buyers.

We’re “bad news before the good news” kind of guys, so there’s one other thing we need to state. If someone is determined to steal your motorcycle, there’s a good chance he’ll succeed. With the proper tools and knowledge, any chain can be cut, and alarm disarmed, and any garage door opened.

This means that, while all those safety measures are great to put in place, the first step towards preventing theft is to attempt to ensure no one ever becomes determined to steal your motorcycle.

Theft Prevention Tip #1 – Concealment
The first, and possibly best effort you can make in preventing theft is to not broadcast the value you’ve left sitting on the street. Motorcycle thieves, driving around in a truck looking for sportbikes, are less likely to target your bike if they don’t know what it is. Sure, it’s easy to tell based on the silhouette what type of bike it is, but a cover just make window shopping that much harder.

Park your bike in the same spot every day, uncovered during the day and covered all night long too? Or is it on the street in front of your garage during the day and then in the garage at night? Chances are, everyone knows what’s under that cover or behind that door. Any effort you can make to change up the location you park or disguise what’s under the cover will help.

An added benefit to using a motorcycle cover is that thieves won’t know what other theft-prevention devices you’ve used and so won’t know what to prepare for.

Theft Prevention Tip #2 – Locks
Your motorcycle moves freely, without requiring a key. Steering locks are great, but I still don’t understand why no one has come up with a way to lock your bike in gear. If you really want to keep your bike safe, you’re going to need to add some aftermarket accessories.

Disc locks are great, both because they’re effective at keeping the bike from rolling freely and they’re easy to transport with you while riding. Wheels, unfortunately, are easy to remove which negates the effectiveness of disc locks. If you’re going to go with the disc lock option, make sure you get one with an alarm on it that will notify anyone around to what’s happening, which will act as a far better deterrent than the lock itself.

xena

Chains are another great way to lock up your bike, but only if done correctly. Chains do a decent job of preventing someone from carrying your bike off, but really need to be attached to an immoveable object if they’re going to be effective. If you can’t park close enough to an immoveable object, look for another motorcycle with a chain and loop your chain through theirs. Either person will be able to unchain their bike from the connection, and it will help to keep both bikes more secure.

If you do find something you can attach the chain to, make sure the chain isn’t resting on the ground where it can be attacked with a hammer and chisel (loop the chain around multiple times if you have to in order to take up the slack).

A chain through one wheel, attached to an immoveable object, and a disc lock with an alarm on the other wheel, all under a motorcycle cover is about the best you’ll do to make your bike a pain to snatch.

Theft Prevention Tip #3 – Booby Traps
Just kidding….well, sort of.

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  • http://www.motopraxis.com/ Aakash

    My tips:

    1. Don’t own a sport bike

    2. Wire-in hidden kill switches

    3. Don’t own a Harley

    • runnermatt

      What if your sport bike is “just a 250″? Especially, if that 250 is made in Thailand and parts are really cheap.

      • http://www.motopraxis.com/ Aakash

        Don’t ask redundant questions ;)

      • Thomas Høj Jørgensen

        I’ve recently had my cbr250r stolen from a city street. It was parked amongst other bigger, more valuable bikes. It was the only sportbike-look-alike though, and i guess they didn’t know it was just a 250, as a short joyride later, they seemed to get tired of it and ditched it. In the US the cbr is one of the best selling bikes correct? I would think that fact alone, together with the lack of immobilizer, would make it a prime theft candidate.

    • Piglet2010

      Disagree with #3 – you may get a better deal from your insurance company if your H-D is stolen than as a trade-in at a dealer of other brands. ; )

  • imprezive

    The reddit AMA with a motorcycle thief is well worth a read.

    http://www.reddit.com/r/motorcycles/comments/t5shp/ex_thief_chopshop_operator_ama/

    • Jorn Bjorn Jorvi

      EVERYONE QUOTES THIS AMA BUT NOBODY ACTUALLY KNOWS WHO THE GUY IS. You’ve taken to trusting either a. some goon who has no clue what he’s talking about b. a troll c. a person who actually steals motorcycles. What about this seems OK? Anytime somebody says they don’t want their bike loaded into some van or whatever, somebody gotta pop up and say “this guy on the internet one time told me he stole a motorcycle and rode away on it”.

      • imprezive

        All I said is that it’s worth reading. If the guy wasn’t a thief he researched the hell out of motorcycle security to pretend. Even if he is a fraud doesn’t mean it’s not worth reading and considering as it’s one of the more comprehensive motorcycle security discussions I’ve seen.

    • Malandro

      I’m inclined to believe the Reddit poster.

      Interesting how he dismisses the throw-it-in-a-van method. I suppose the US road system means it makes more sense to leave on the bike. European cities are quite different. My town of Barcelona is notoriously up there as one of the worst places in the western world for bike theft and the most typical method is to throw it in a van. Underground car parks are the norm here and thieves gain access by slipping in when the door is open (perhaps after a car enters), hiding and calling their accomplices to come round with a van. It’s rare for bikes to be hotwired and ridden away.

      Insurance companies don’t even give you a discount for having your bike parked in an underground car park. It’s really just to protect the paintwork from the sun.

  • Rameses the 2nd

    If you live in a neighborhood where you have to worry about your bike being stolen all the time, you really shouldn’t spend a lot of money on the bike. Just buy a cheaper bike that nobody wants and live stress free. What’s the point of having a motorcycle, if you have to constantly protect it from theives.

  • ThinkingInImages

    I prefer the Abus Detecto disk lock/alarms. I tried one of the earlier Xena’s but it was a little too sensitive and bulky.

  • metric_G

    If they want to take it they will, get full insurance coverage, at least you can buy another one.

  • HD19146

    I highly recommend this setup. With the chain off the ground, It is impossible to attack the chain or lock without setting of the alarm.

  • Jai S.

    I’m glad I ride a Strom and don’t have to worry about this.

    • bammerburn

      Yes, comparatively “undesirable” motorcycles are the best.

  • Brian

    I wouldn’t be kidding about booby traps, unless they were made by Data from the Goonies!!!

  • This guy

    I don’t take my bike out as much as I would like (only if I’m leaving London or really fancy a ride, short distance here is not at all worth it) and I’ve come up with an extra security method that works perfectly. Disc lock, big chain on the back wheel, and then I remove the battery. Even if they get through the lock and chain it can’t be started, and good luck to anyone who wants to try lifting it into a van! I ride a ’96 Yamaha Virago, not exactly a target for an opportunistic thief anyway.

  • Jonathan Noble

    No mention of concreted-in ground (y)anchors? http://www.yanchor.com/