I love riding. Whether it has two or four wheels on street or off in the dirt, I can’t get enough seat time. A big problem is that so do a lot of other people and they’re looking to do it on my dime. Motorcycle theft is a serious problem and every year, and those stats continue to rise in North America. In fact, the last report from the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) shows that from 2015-2016, MC theft went up 2%. Sure it seems like a small number, but when you consider the number of motorcycles on the road and in garages it is a sizeable increase.
Are You A Potential Victim?
We don’t want to scare you from riding or purchasing a motorcycle if you are considering one, but just know that there is a potential for it to happen. Key factors that determine if you’re at higher risk are location and the type of motorcycle you may own. Of course the time of year can also determine how much you’re at risk as well. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that more thefts occur during the summer vs. the winter. Let’s face it…. Not a lot of burglars want to be out in the snow trying to steal a motorcycle.
When it comes to locations, cities and states with good year round weather and a high population density obviously will have higher risks. According to the NICB, the top 10 states with the most reported motorcycle thefts in 2016 are as follows:
California (7,506), Florida (4,482), Texas (3,692), South Carolina (2,057), North Carolina (1,847), New York (1,731), Indiana (1,397), Georgia (1,296), Missouri (1,195), and Nevada (1,177).
Getting even more specific with these figures, the top 10 cities for motorcycle thefts in 2016 are as follows:
New York (1,209), San Diego (849), Las Vegas (818), Los Angeles (760) San Francisco (616), Miami (610), Houston (607), San Antonio (411), Phoenix (347), and Austin, Texas, (343).
Maybe you’re wondering if that new R6 will make you a target over a GSXR, Ninja or CBR? According to the NCIB, there are machine manufactures that are higher in demand for thieves that want to ruin your next ride. Here is the list of the 10 most stolen motorcycle brands in 2016:
American Honda Motor Co., Inc. (9,052 thefts), Yamaha Motor Corporation (7,723), American Suzuki Motor Corporation (6,229), Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A. (5,221), Harley Davidson, Inc. (4,953), Taotao Group Co. Ltd (2,673), KTM Sportmotorcycle AG (762), Ducati Motor Holding (521), Genuine Cycle (463), and Kymco U.S.A., Inc. (453).
**These stats are for 2016 since 2017 numbers were not available at the time of this writing.
How Do You Protect Your Toys?
One of the best ways to prevent your 2 or 4 wheel toy from being stolen, is to keep it from public display as much as possible. If you’ve got a garage, then keep it inside and out of sight as much as possible. If you must park outside, be sure to use a motorcycle cover as the first measure of defense. The more you can keep a potential thief guessing, the less likely you are to become a target.
Steering head locks are a great measure of defense is built into almost every motorcycle on the road. While it’s not the ultimate in bike security, it does add a level of difficulty to would be thieves that are looking for a quick score. Let’s face it. If you saw someone pushing around a motorcycle in a circle because they couldn’t turn the handlebars any other direction, you’d think there was something fishy going on right?
Is parking outside of a garage your only option? We suggest you try to park under a light so anyone strolling near your bike won’t go unnoticed in the shadows. Machines that are left in the dark present much more of an opportunity to be stolen since it’s harder to see anyone mingling around. Carports are an easy target for motorcycle thieves, so you best be using multiple forms of security to keep your bike yours.
If you’ve got the mechanical know-how, a good trick is to wire some kind of kill-switch into your bikes electrical system to prevent it from running unless it’s turned on. Think of it as a secondary key switch that only you know about. We do emphasize that you absolutely know what you’re getting yourself into if you attempt to do this because if you start cutting into the wiring harness of your BMW R 1200 Gsa GS and mess something up, it could turn into a costly repair at your local dealer.
Of course the number one method of loss prevention is to lock it down. There are numerous Disc Locks, U-locks and hardened steel chains from popular brands like Abus, Master Lock, Bully Locks, Kryptonite, On Guard and more that are popular and work well. One thing we highly caution you against is the use of cable locks that can provide a false sense of security. While cables are light and convenient to carry around, they are also easy to cut through with a simple set of wire cutters. We’re not talking about one single cut, but a would-be burglar can potentially get through the best rated cable in under 5 minutes with a bunch of small snips.
Chaining your bike down is a great way to deter thieves from considering your bike as a target. The more methods you use to prevent theft, the better off you'll be.
Photo Courtesy: Enrico Pavia
In my opinion, Disc Locks are one of the best anti-theft devices you can get since they’re convenient in both size and function. Disc locks prevent anything with a vented rotor from moving, but you also need to remember when you have it installed. We’ve heard plenty of stories where riders forgot one quick step before attempting to get on the road that can cause some damage and embarrassment. There are also disc locks, like the Xena XX14 Alarm Disc Lock, that emit an ear piercing sound when the alarm is triggered. This can serve as both a reminder for the bike owner to remove it and most importantly a theft-deterrent. One thing I highly recommend is that when you’re in the market for locks is that you don’t skimp. This is when it’s ok to splurge and get the good stuff because a little more cost is well worth the added security and peace of mind.
One thing I want to emphasize is that even if you did every one of the above recommendations, there is nothing that makes your motorcycle 100% theft proof. If a thief is determined enough, they’ll do whatever it takes to get what doesn’t belong to them. The best thing you can do is make them think twice about taking yours and looking for a potential easier target. Do you have any recommendations on how to make your motorcycle theft proof? Feel free to leave your tips or suggestions in the comments section below.
Regardless of how many things you do to prevent your bike from being stolen, nothing is absolutely fool proof. The best we can do is make it as inconvenient as possible to make them think twice.
Photo Courtesy: blog.key.me