If you have ever spent time on Reddit, you may be familiar with Reddit’s Ask Me Anything, or Reddit AMA. A user requested responses from motorcycle thieves, asking the following questions:
The post generated a number of responses, but the most notable responders by far was a police officer from London and a motorcycle thief from the United States. These responses were enlightening and, if you are a motorcycle owner, you can learn how to best avoid having your motorcycle stolen.
The London police officer has his own take on the types of motorcycles that are most commonly stolen and why. The officer cited that sports bikes and commonly seen motorcycles are by far the most common. He believed that this was due to the fact that these bikes are far simpler for a thief to strip the motorcycle for parts and sell the parts in order to avoid any sort of tracking. The police officer said that, on one occurrence, he was a part of a team that raided a house and found five motorcycles in various stages of being stripped down for parts.
In order to understand the best security measures that you can take for your motorcycle, you must first understand how motorcycles are commonly stolen. The police officer had found that the most common method used for motorcycle theft is simply lifting the bike off of the ground and loading it into a van as riding the stolen bike comes with a greater level of risk. Even sports bikes that were as large as 200kg could still be easily lifted with a team of four thieves.
Therefore, the police officer reasoned, the first priority that you should have as a motorcycle owner who would like to prevent theft is to prevent the bike from getting off the ground. One viable method for doing this is a good chain, lock and ground anchor. However, materials must be thick and hardened with a minimum of 16mm diameter. If the chain, lock or anchor is too small, bolt cutters could do away with the precaution. Furthermore, it is recommended that you lock your bike off tight. Do not risk leaving loose chain on the floor as chains can freeze and become more vulnerable to blunt force attacks, such as an attack by a sledgehammer.
The police officer cautioned that, if you have a garage, it is far better to garage your motorcycle than leave it on the street or in your driveway. If you do not have a driveway, it is recommended that you invest in security lights and even a dummy CCTV camera, if possible. Even if the camera is fake, it can act as a deterrent to thieves.
When it comes to bike locks, the office recommended the Abloy Protec 362 due to the heavy weight of the lock and the 15mm boron steel shackle. These locks are considered military grade and, as the officer stated, used in bank vaults. However, the Abloy can be very pricy, so the officer also recommended the Squire 65CS as this lock is another lock that is very hard to cut.
Another way to deter thieves from attempting to steal your motorcycle is to ensure that you are maximizing security measures by learning the best way to lock your bike. While many motorcycle owners lock a bike through the wheel, the police officer cautioned that it is simple to remove a wheel. The police office, who owns a motorcycle himself, locks his own bike using the gap between the engine block and the downpipes through the front forks. Removing a lock such as this will generally be time consuming and very noisy, likely to set the disc lock alarms off.
As part of his response, the office told Reddit users that the biggest deterrent for motorcycle thieves is a secure motorcycle. There are plenty of motorcycles out there that are insecure and thieves will often go for the lowest hanging fruit. The easiest heist. At some point, the risk that a secure motorcycle poses will outweigh the potential reward of the theft. Being caught and charged is the largest hazard to a thief. If you make your motorcycle a riskier theft than other motorcycles, your bike will be more likely to be passed over for an easier picking.
As the officer put it, “The more trouble the thief has to go to the longer it’s 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.”
The other notable response on the Reddit AMA was from a motorcycle thief from the United States. While he has been out of this line of business for the last four to five years, he had been involved in the motorcycle theft scene for over 10 years and he wasn’t all that sure how he got to where he was in the first place. The former thief noted that he himself was a motorcycle owner and had a love for motorcycles. He began to realize that he was responsible for the sickening feeling that people would feel when they wake up to realize that their “baby” had been stolen. Towards the end of his run, he had begun to believe that he would be caught and sent to jail any day. His life and freedom were on the line, no matter the amount of money that he was making. In the end, he determined that the risk to his freedom was more expensive than the thousands of dollars that he received in exchange for stolen bike parts.
However, he did have some interesting and enlightening things to say on the police officer’s theory that most thefts occur by loading bikes into trucks or vans. The former thief believed that that was how thieves got caught. Instead, him and many other bike thieves would wire the motorcycle and ride it directly to the destination where it would be broken down, riding strictly by the letter of the law.
The former thief speculated that the most common types of motorcycles that he and other thieves he had known would steal were mostly supersports. He claimed that these bikes were the most common motorcycles involved in a crash and generally the ones that were most commonly left outside. After supersports, Harleys were the most commonly taken. For a brief period time, high dollar choppers were also a target motorcycle for theft.
When it comes to security, the former thief states that bike owners should never leave a bike parked outside an apartment complex, especially one with a gated parking lot. He claimed that the number one place that bike thieves would look for a motorcycle to steal is in a gated parking garage in a mid to high rise apartment building in the nicer part of town.
The former thief recommended the NYC fughetabouit chain/lock from the company Kryptonite and to choose the thicker of the two types of chains and locks that were offered. Similarly to the police officer’s advice, the former thief told the Reddit community that the chain should go through something, such as a braced swingarm, whenever possible. He cautioned against putting a chain through a wheel, especially the front wheel. He said that, if you had to put a chain through a wheel, to put it through the rear one as it takes much longer to remove and swap.
He claimed that, while Lo-jack and Lo-jack with early warnings are good at recovering bikes from amateur thieves, someone who knows what they are doing will be able to remove the system quickly after leaving an area. He also cautioned that, even though these devices can help you retrieve a bike, it is unlikely that you would get the bike back in one piece of without damage to the bike. The former thief stated that your focus should be on preventing the motorcycle from being stolen in the first place.
When it comes to locks for a motorcycle, the former thief advised the Reddit community that high dollar chain lock sets are worth the price. While these high dollar braided cable locks are great, they can be cut, yet it is a pretty time-consuming process, so the risk of a thief being caught while attempting to steal a bike is far greater.
The thief claimed that, generally, whatever motorcycle will take the longest amount of time to steal is generally the bike that is passed over for an easier picking. He stated that he had only known a very small amount of thieves that would work on stealing a bike for hours and that most thieve will spend seconds or, at most, a couple of minutes attempting to steal a bike before the risk outweighed the potential reward.
Never park a motorcycle outside unless you have to, and only temporarily if possible. He said a simple security measure that you can take it so bring a flathead screwdriver with you wherever you go and remove your clutch lever when you leave your bike along. Without a clutch lever, the thief will not be able to ride the bike away. However, if you leave your bike parked outside every night, the thief can simply come back with their own clutch lever. Never leave a spare key or title on your bike, even in a locked compartment as these can be easily opened and bypassed.
In closing, the former thief wrote, “The majority of thieves aren’t that smart and half of those are on drugs. Please, don’t be dumber than they are.”