If you’re like me, you’ve had at least one nightmare where your motorcycle gets stolen. The closest encounter I’ve had was when my neighbour got his CBR stolen, while mine was parked less than 10 meters (30 feet) away. MFW I heard what happened the next morning:
The same evening I came back home at around 12am, and sat next to my motorcycle until it was daytime. I was that worked up.
Anywho, I spent the next few days researching security measures, and common practices of thieves. I’m sharing the results with you in hopes of saving a few wheels out there.
At this point in my life I didn’t have a garage, so I had to park in front of my building
1. Say NO to gated-parking garages in apartment complexes.
That’s the first place where thieves go “shopping”. This is especially relevant in the US. The following high-risk places are:
- apartment complex parking spots
- parking garages
- detached garages at apartment complexes
- College “bike parking”
- Shopping mall parking spots
So where do I park? If you absolutely cannot park inside the house/garage, rent a self-storage unit near your home. Make sure you invest in heavy duty locks — normal garage doors are easy to break into, as easy as stealing door codes are.
If you live in the US, parking at home/home garage has additional benefits: in addition to theft, you can be charged with breaking and entering. The charges get worse if the residents are at home, even worse if a child is present in the home, and worst if any of the tools they carry can be classified as weapons. TLDR, park in your garage and make some babies. If none are an option, see #7.
2. NEVER leave your spare keys or documents in the trunk.
This one should be no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at how many people do this out of convenience.
3. Be wary of second-hand dealers and bike-mover companies.
When getting a bike from a second hand dealer, try to leave as little information as possible — no address, full name etc. More than often they are involved in the game. Same goes for motorcycle movers. Try to arrange your own transport whenever you can.
4. Is your bike a high-risk target?
If you own any of the following, brace yourself:
- Super Sport
- 0–3 year old model
These are highest on the “shopping list” for thieves. Anything that is 7+ years old is unlikely to get stolen. Still, that doesn’t mean you can leave it unchained in the street, got it?
5. If someone already tried stealing your bike and failed, they WILL be back for it.
Get that bike someplace safe. NOW.
6. If you just got a replacement for your stolen bike, they WILL be back for it.
While you are reaping that sweet sweet karma from your insurance, and enjoying your new pair of wheels, they are already putting you on the “to-do” list. See #5 for instructions.
7. There is no single-best security solution.
You first need to understand how the minds of thieves work. They will be looking for the fastest/most quiet way of stealing that bike. Therefore, a combination of security systems that look tedious to break will be the best solution. What does this mean? A best solutions is having ALL 3 of the following:
1) A disk lock on the REAR wheel
Do not buy anything that costs under $90–100. I’m serious. Best bet options would be something like this XENA Disk Lock or ABUS Disk Lock, both equipped with alarms. Cutting these locks will most probably not be an option, while removing a rear wheel is a lot harder/longer than the front one.
2) A chain lock going trough HARD PARTS of the bike
ex. frame, braced swingarm etc. If this is not an option, opt for sliding it through the rear wheel and placing the disk lock on the front one. Just make sure that you don’t chain it to a picket fence.
Pro-tip: try to have the chain as high as possible. When the chain is not near or touching the ground it’s a LOT harder to cut.
Same as the disk lock, don’t buy anything below $100. Some safe options are this KRYPTONITE Chain, this ABUS Chain or anything in the same category. Every thief has a pair of nice bolt-cutters that can cut trough any cheap chain. High-end chains will take a LOT more time to cut, as well as make a lot of noise. Time and noise are the thief’s worst enemy.
3) Lock the damn steering
Yes, I know some are very easy to break, but add it to the two above, and it’s just another item on the “time schedule”.
In case you have LoJack or anything similar installed, make sure you keep the wiring and boxes out of the obvious places. They will definitely be looking for any non-OEM wires/hardware under the seat and tank. LoJack stickers are even worse; only maybe when you don’t actually have a gps unit, in which case — good job making them look. If you want to go really crazy, make/buy something like this and stick it in the headlights or something.
In case you cover your bike with a tarp, get another cheaper lock with an alarm and use that to tie up the tarp around the bike. That’s an additional hassle for thieves; it makes noise, and they have no idea what’s waiting for them underneath in terms of security.
8. Chain bikes one to another when travelling.
This one should be a no-brainer as well.
9. How to spot a “scout”?
Your bike will be scouted numerous time, and you better be sure that by now the thieves know your daily routine.
A common occurrence would be a person walking with a dog or a kid. What they are doing is checking for any devices that have alarms. If someone spots them while scouting, they can say the dog or kid tipped the alarm off.
10. So how is it done?
The average time thieves would spend on stealing a bike is 30 sec. The most they would dare spend is a couple of minutes. This is where the 3 points from #7 come to play — time.
The order of events being carried out during a job are the following:
- The ignition is set up to be ready for start
- Safety equipment removed (disk lock, chain)
- Steering lock is snapped
- Ignition is plugged, bike is started
- The bike is taken out of sight and checked for GPS devices
Sometimes, the bike might be left someplace else in the neighbourhood; covered and locked up. In case your bike goes missing, make sure you scout the area for any covered bikes.
A lot of this info came from posts and comments on /r/motorcycles, so I want to pay my respects where they are due.
Original Article: Medium