Is your bike tempting fate? 10 tips to reduce the chance of motorcycle theft

By Caiti Beattie and Jill Boulton

MOTORBIKES are tempting, aren’t they? If it’s got two wheels and an engine, it’s a motorbike and it’s saying: “Ride me, ride me, ride me! I like to have fun and I want to show you how. I’m a bike, and I deliver thrills”.

The chances are that if you feel that way about your bike, there will be one or two less than law-abiding people who will give in to that temptation, get their bolt-cutters out and ride your bike away.

If you’re very lucky like Jill’s brother Alan, you will see your bike again, unscathed and intact (his 1992 Fireblade was stolen from his garage and recovered, perfect, in a pub car park – no doubt the thief needed a drink after scaring himself silly on the legendary ‘widow-maker’) but if you’re not so fortunate, your shiny pride and joy will be found dumped, trashed and written off, leaving you with, at the very least, an increased insurance premium.

So how do we tackle the bike thieves? It was announced recently in Motorcycle Monthly that police are to be given ‘stingers’ to stop thieves who are attempting to steal motorbikes – but these are only any use if police catch thieves in the act, of course. A “stinger” will deflate the tyres of the motorcycle, slowing the thieves’ exit. And with thieves more likely to steal your bike from your home than where you have parked it, we’ve explored a few ways to stop your bike from being stolen.

Motorbikes are usually stolen by thieves who do not start the bike before stealing them.  The two most common types of motorcycle theft are lifting it in to the back of a van or using a second motorbike to tow it away, executed by putting a foot on the rear pegs of the bike.

Protecting your motorbike from being stolen is a serious business. There are lots of ways to do this well and also many ways to do it badly, thus making it easy for the thieves to steal your bike.

It is almost like a game. Can the thieves win and steal your bike? Or will the traps and riddles you have put in place protect the prize possession? With these tips, we are giving you the leg up that you need to beat the thieves. Our money is on you kid!

  1. Create a problem with your bike. This should be something simple that you know how to fix easily and quickly but also something visible that will ward away the thieves and make them think that your bike is broken. An example of this is to loosen the spark plug cap (let’s hope the thieves don’t read this tip).
  1. Lock your steering. This is usually an automatic feature of bikes. However, it takes a matter of seconds to ensure that this feature is working properly when you leave your bike parked and it could mean the difference between finding it there tomorrow or not.
  1. Think about where you are parking your bike. Obviously leaving your bike in a garage overnight is the ideal situation. However, this is not practical for many people. Be strategic – finding a place off of the main street and road is the aim. A garden or a place which you are able to see from a window is safest. When leaving your bike in any of these places find a sturdy object that it is attached to the ground to chain your bike to. (Jill used to chain her bike to a bus stop outside her house – a secure move, but we’re not sure the bus drivers or passengers were best pleased).
  1. Lock it! Spending some extra money on a good lock (or even two if you would like to be more careful) will pay off. Having a cheap lock that can be easily broken is the same as having no lock at all. Using U locks of hardened steel should provide the best protection of your bike. Anchoring your bike to something solid and attached to the ground will make the act of stealing your bike a much more difficult and lengthy process thus stealing the temptation from any thieves eyeing up your machine.
  1. Use uncommon brands of locks. This may sound extreme but for thieves that are stealing bikes to sell on again this will be something that they do regularly. By buying a less common type of motorcycle lock you are providing more of a riddle for the thieves. This will make them less keen to tackle stealing your bike and if they do decide to take on the challenge they will be much slower than they would be if you had used a common lock that they knew how to work around easily and quickly.
  1. Put an alarm on your garage door. While an alarm is not going to prevent thieves from taking your bike it will alert you to the problem and give them a fright ensuring that they know that you are aware of what they are doing. You can purchase varying degrees of alarms. Some alert the police after a certain period of time, others come through as an alert on your telephone and others just ring repeatedly.
  1. Install CCTV cameras on your garage. Having the ability to gain sight of, in and around, your garage from your home will put your mind at rest and will sway thieves from attempting to break entry to your garage. Having these cameras in clear sight is never a bad idea as this may be the factor that stops thieves from breaking into your garage.
  1. Buy a cover for your motorbike. By covering your bike even when it’s parked in the street this will reduce temptation. Not only does this method help to stop your bike from being stolen it also may reduce scratching.
  1. Install an ignition cut-out switch to your bike. Although the majority of bikes are stolen by thieves who have the goal of selling the bike again and therefore push it away, there are exceptions. By installing an ignition cut out switch this stops your motorbike’s engine from being started unless you are there to disable it. Using this method while not always preventing the crime will slow down the process and give you or other members of the public time to see the crime taking place.
  1. Download BikeTrac to your smart phone. BikeTrac is a motorcycle tracker that shows you maps and images of where your motorbike is 24/7. It also sends you a notification if there is any unauthorised movement on your bike.

Picture credit: Bennetts