Motorcycle thieves must be grateful that seven out of 10 owners still leave their machines unlocked in city bike parks.Dr Ken German – Head of technology and vehicle crime at the Met, as well as president of the International Association of Auto Theft Investigators.
There’s a popular saying, ‘If you want to catch a thief you’ve got to think like one.’ Would you steal a bike with a chain, or the one beside it with no chain?
A determined thief will go to any lengths, but they will always choose the ‘easy’ looking target first! If your motorcycle just ‘looks’ more difficult to steal, it is proven to be much less likely to be targeted.
So your first line of defense is to have your motorcycle secured making it clear to the thief that stealing your motorcycle is going to cause them some real trouble. Your goal is to make the potential thief think that your motorcycle is just too much ‘bother’. The opportunist thief will 9/10 times move on to find an easier target!
Remember thieves are smart! The majority of organised criminals consider only stealing a bike that they know can be broken up for parts easily. (Read more about ‘Data Tagging’ below.)
The most common way motorbikes are stolen is to simply left it from the ground, and put it into the back of a van. The thief does not even need to know how to ride the motorcycle! An alarm might help in this instance (the noise may cause them to give up loading it and run) but as I have said above, your best option to make things difficult: The first step, is finding a good ground anchor (like a lamppost) and second, using a certified hardened chain! While your motorcycle would be reasonably secure with the right lock and chain (and it is a certainly the number one great ‘obstacle’) some thieves have learned just to remove the wheel where you have the chain attached, and load the rest of the bike into their van with just one wheel! (Have you considered putting your lock and chain through part of the engine mounting brackets or frame instead of the wheel?). If your bike is loaded into a van, a good GPS tracking system is one of your only avenues of recourse. (Learn more about GPS tracking systems below!)
Where you park matters.
Do some research before you leave home; your best option (this is not always possible!) is to park your motorcycle in an official, covered car park, monitored by a security. If you are parking at the side of a road or a street, lookout for pubic street security cameras (these often are quite well hidden on poles in many public areas, on footpaths and around towns and city centers). One the best options for parking I have found, is to look out for government buildings (like court houses, police stations, and other public buildings) – these building often have security camera’s mounted around their walls / perimeters; so use these places (and their security systems) to for your own advantage; simple make sure you park near enough to them and suddenly their monitoring systems are now your personal motorcycle security cameras! (I suggest you take a slow walk around the area you normally park at and scout the buildings for cameras and surveillance equipment – this is the one instance when it is great that Big Brother is watching!)
Another tip is that I always prefer parking my motorcycle where there are lots of people – do not opt for a quiet dark side street, or a quiet side road on the outskirts! Motorcycles thieves do not like to operate in areas where there are lots of people around.
At home, a brick built garage with a concrete floor, and security door is your best option. (Tell your insurance insurance if you are able to keep your bike in a garage, they will usually reduce your insurance premium!) Failing that, if you can just get your motorcycle to the back of your property, please do so, do leave it on the kerb at the front of your house if you can at all avoid it. Even at home – chain it up! Apply all the security that you normally would if you were parking at the side of any public street in the middle of town. Remember your job is to make things difficult for an opportunist.
So what else can you teach me about protecting my motorcycle?
Did you know the Motorcycle Industry Association (MIA) launched a new scheme to help bike buyers easily see what level of security about cars before they buy. A star is awarded for:
1. Standard steering lock
2. Ignition immobilizer
3. A forensic marking system
To receive 5 Stars about would need to have all 5 items fitted. ( If you added a brake disc lock for example – that would be considered ‘aftermarket’ and therefore that would be outside the scope of this as a ‘new bike’ rating system.)
We at SmartMotorcycleGuide.com feel that is a great system you can easily apply when considering your next motorcycle, even if it doesn’t have an “official” MIA certification! Simply rank the motorcycles you are looking at using this simple star system yourself! Why not improve your own motorcycles ‘safety ranking’ by adding some of these features, and give your own motorcycle a ‘rating’ to help market it when selling it onward?
Now let us learn even more about the range of specific tools and systems available to you that you need to help protect your pride and joy.
1. Wheel disc locks and a chain.
As you have learnt above, the majority of bike thefts are still opportunistic and can be avoided with good locks as a deterrent. While the opportunist thief will be able to ‘get around’ and break some weaker locks, it is important to put this impediment in place. Declaring you have an appropriate recognised disc lock for your motorcycle can even help reduce some insurance premiums. Get a quality lock and chain right now.
2. Data tagging
Now we are getting more advanced! Data tagging systems include covert marking systems to help identify your motorcycle even if the number plate is changed or your chassis number is is altered. Data tagging can take a number of forms including microdots, UV pen markers, tamper proof stickers and many more). These things are easy to apply, I can recommend this product as a good option. Some insurers will reduce your premium by if you declare you have a data tagging system in place.
3. GPS tracking
Adding one of these systems will bring your motorcycle security to another level. The cost of these advanced systems is a very small price to pay to have peace of mind. We at smart motorcycling guide believe having a GPS tracker is the definition of ‘smart motorcycling’.
The best systems will have a built-in SIM card with a GSM connection, they effectively allow the tracker to broadcast tracking information using mobile phone technology. Despite this being one of the more advanced security systems that you can buy , they are very easy to install and often have no wiring. The most important thing to consider when installing these gadgets is that they can be reasonably bulky : you want to find somewhere to mount your tracker that is very difficult to find, simply placing it under your seat is not a good idea!
A security alarm on your motorcycle it designed to emit an audible noise to to tear a thief when they try to tamper with your motorcycle or or your lock. Simple, effective, smart.
So I would encourage you not to make Motorcycle thieves ” grateful ” that you have simply have not bothered to secure your ride.
Stay safe and ride smart.