Part of the reason motorcycles are so fun to ride and own is due to the fact that they’re smaller and easier to get around. Unfortunately, because of their size, they often become a target for theft and some owners make it easy for them to get stolen.
If you own a motorcycle, it’s important you take the proper safety measures to ensure it never gets stolen. All it takes is a few seconds and a thief could have that motorcycle gone before you know it. In this article is a list that suggests some helpful ways to keep your motorcycle from getting stolen.
How Motorcycles Are Stolen
Before we dive into how to prevent your motorcycle from getting stolen, let’s discuss exactly how a thief steals a motorcycle. Understanding how it’s done can help you take the measurements you need so you can stay one step ahead of them.
Motorcycle theft can happen anywhere there is a motorcycle, but there are a few locations that are frequented by motorcycle thieves. Parking garages are among those “hot spots” because a lot of people let their guard down when parking their motorcycle in these places.
Motorcyclists often assume that since you have to pay to get out of the parking garage or that there are security guards, they don’t need to lock up their motorcycle. Thieves know this, so they take advantage of it.
College campuses are also frequented by motorcycle thieves. This is mostly due to the fact that college campuses are a common place that has parking designated for just motorcycles. This gives thieves a slew of choices. College students are poor enough to skimp on the locks which make it a perfect target.
Unfortunately, apartment complexes are also a common place that thieves look for motorcycles. This is because a lot of apartment complexes don’t have a garage to place the motorcycle in and if they do, the garage is usually detached and easy to break in to without getting noticed. Thieves know tenants park their motorcycles in the parking lot overnight which gives them the perfect scenario to steal it.
The most common and simplest way a thief steals a motorcycle is simply putting it in neutral and rolling it away to a place where they feel safe tinkering with it to get it started. Sometimes, if a thief is determined, he may stalk the motorcycle for a few days to see the habit of the owner. Later, they’ll bring a truck and a few buddies and simply lift the motorcycle up off the ground into the truck and drive away. It only takes a matter of minutes to do.
The biggest deterrent for motorcycle thieves is obstacles and the time it takes for them to actually steal it. They usually won’t spend more than several minutes on the motorcycle before bailing. Their main target is low hanging fruit; they want motorcycles that are easy to steal with no security measurements attached to them.
One of the biggest steps you can take to prevent your motorcycle from getting stolen is making it unnoticeable from thieves in the first place. If a potential crook doesn’t even know it exists or doesn’t really know a whole lot about the it, chances are they’re not going to target your motorcycle.
The best place to start is by storing your motorcycle in inconspicuous places. Storing a motorcycle in a garage when it’s not being used is the best way to keep it safe, especially if it’s an attached garage. Other inconspicuous places may include storing it in a storage unit, a shed, or a friend/family member’s garage. Sometimes this isn’t always possible and parking lots are the only place a person has to store it.
No matter where you store your motorcycle when you’re not using it, you should always use a motorcycle cover. Though a cover itself won’t stop the act of stealing the motorcycle, it does take attention away from the potential of it becoming a target. Thieves like to know what they’re stealing before committing the act.
It’s very tempting to leave it out on the sidewalk or driveway to show off to your neighbors the incredible machine you have. Though your neighbors might appreciate it, thieves will appreciate it even more because you’ve demonstrated your habit of leaving it unattended. When you’re not using your motorcycle, store it in a secure area or use the proper locks.
Consider How You Park
Motorcycles getting stolen happens everywhere, including when you’re out running errands on your bike. This is the difficult part about owning a motorcycle because you still have to park it in a parking lot to complete said errands.
When parking in a parking lot, try to park in well lit areas if it’s night and/or high traffic areas where a lot of people will be walking. Trying to hide your motorcycle in the back corner probably isn’t going to work. In fact, you’re making it an easier target for thieves to come and take your motorcycle.
It also helps if you’re able to park close to other motorcycles or vehicles. If you’re able, park sideways at the top of the stall in a parking lot where a car is already parked (make sure you know the car owner and ask permission). This will keep your motorcycle in a heavily populated area but still hidden.
Garage Door Controller
As it was stated before, having a garage to store your motorcycle in is a great way to keep it from getting stolen. But that doesn’t mean you’re 100% immune.
If you’re like me, you may occasionally forget to close the garage door when you drive away from your house or when you settle in for the night. A garage isn’t going to do anything for you if the door is wide open. You might as well not have a garage at all.
It’ll strike a sense of panic in me when I’m out somewhere and wonder if I left the garage door open which gives direct access to my motorcycle. I trust my neighbors, but we have strange people driving through our neighborhood all the time.
For cases like these, I recommend the Garadget Smart Garage Door Controller (link to Amazon.com). This nifty little thing is a gadget that you connect to your garage door opening mechanism. It has a laser that points at the inside of the garage door at a sticker sensor.
With this gadget is an app you can install on your phone. Through the app, you can check to see whether or not your garage door is open or closed according to the laser sensor. If it’s left open, you can close the garage door through the app. The app will also notify you if you left the garage door open, if it’s been open for too long, or if it opened at a strange time.
This is a great device to help provide peace of mind and knowing your motorcycle is safe in your garage. You have more control over what people can and can’t see inside and keep those thieves from lingering in.
It would be nice to be able to keep an eye on your motorcycle 24/7. But we all have lives to live so that’s simply unrealistic. That’s why security cameras are a great substitute that can do that for us.
A security camera isn’t going to stop a thief from stealing your motorcycle, but it can certainly help the situation. I highly recommend using the Wyze Cam (link to Amazon.com). This is a camera that I personally use inside and outside of my house. There is no monthly subscription required either.
The Wyze Cam can be mounted almost anywhere, including outside if you purchase the waterproof cover that goes along with it. There is an app you can download and get a live stream. It also has an SD card that stores a certain amount of recordings on it. The best part? It will notify you if it senses any movement or noise and you can directly talk and hear through the camera.
This is an excellent resource that can keep an eye on your motorcycle for you. Even if you live in an apartment, it’s possible to place this camera in the window and point it towards your motorcycle. In the case your motorcycle is stolen, you’ll have some footage of it that can help you track down your bike.
In addition to this, having a sign up that says “Video Surveillance” or “You’re On Camera” may be enough of a deterrent for thieves who may think twice about their choice.
High Quality Chain
Using a heavy duty chain is an excellent way to protect your motorcycle. A chain can be useful is several ways including fastening the motorcycle to something immobile such as a pillar or power pole. You do need to pick a chain that’s thick, durable, and high quality. Cheap chains can easily be cut with the right cutters.
I recommend something like the Oxford chain and padlock (link to Motosport.com). This particular chain is made from forged, hardened steel which is better at resisting bolt cutters. Any thief would have to really work at cutting these apart.
When you connect the chain to your motorcycle, thread it through something that a thief cannot cut through or go without. Simply threading it through the rim could be as easy as a thief removing the wheel altogether. Thread the chain through the frame of the motorcycle and loop it around a few other parts if it’s long enough.
Disc Lock With An Alarm
If you’ve never heard of a motorcycle disc lock, you should definitely acquaint yourself with one. A disc lock is a small device, about the size of a softball, that you connect to the brake rotor of your motorcycle. Brake rotors usually have patterned holes big enough to slip the lock through. I recommend something like this disc lock alarm found on Motosport.com.
This particular disc lock comes with an alarm that will make a loud sound when it senses any movement on the motorcycle. Though an alarm itself can’t stop someone from stealing a motorcycle, it does alert you and those around your motorcycle that it’s being tampered with. It’ll likely scare away anyone who is trying to steal it.
A disc lock will also prevent the motorcycle from moving as it is essentially preventing the tire from turning. If you’re going to use one of these, it’s best to use it on the back tire instead of the front since the back tire is much more difficult to remove.
Front Fork Lock
Like the disc lock, using a front fork lock is another great way to keep your motorcycle immobile. A front fork lock is a u-shaped mechanism that wraps around one of the front forks, threads through the tire rim, and locks on the outside of the other tire.
It’s also possible to use these on the rear shocks if your motorcycle’s anatomy will allow it. It’ll work great using them on the front forks, but if the thief is seasoned enough they can remove the front tire and get the lock off. Using it on the rear tire will still keep the motorcycle from moving forward or back and would require much more work on the thief’s part to get off.
Strong Hold Anchor
While making your motorcycle immobile is very important in preventing motorcycle theft, there’s still the chance of a couple of people simply picking up the motorcycle and putting in the back of a truck. It would be nice to have something anchoring down the motorcycle without having to park next to some sort of large architectural structure to tie it down.
There are products out there, such as a ground anchor, that can help with this very situation. A ground anchor, like this one found on Motosport.com is a device that bolts to the cement underneath it. It’s literally an anchor for your motorcycle.
It comes with the equipment you need to securely fasten it to the ground it’s on. You can place it anywhere that has cement. But what would keep the thief from simply unbolting it from the ground?
Mechanisms like the Kryptonite Anchor I suggested in my link above are tamper resistant. Meaning once you have that thing nailed to the ground, it’s there for good and there’s no hope for any thief to get it off. In fact, there’s no hope for you to get it off either, so it’s important you place it in a spot that you’re okay with anchoring your motorcycle permanently.
If you like to have the exact location of your motorcycle at all times, something like the Trackmate GPS Tracker (link to Amazon.com) is a perfect device for you. A device like this is small and inconspicuous, so any thief would be unaware of it’s presence and won’t take it off.
This specific GPS tracker connects to your battery so it has constant power (but doesn’t drain your battery). It has an app that you can download that will show your motorcycle’s location once it has been connected to it. It will also alert you about things like if your battery is low (and can’t power the GPS) and if your motorcycle has been turned on.
There isn’t a contract associated with this specific GPS tracker (a lot of them do require a contract), but all GPS trackers do require a monthly plan. This particular one is about $10 a month for the online activation.
Again, this doesn’t stop a thief from committing the actual theft. But in the case it does get stolen you can pinpoint your motorcycle’s exact location and alert authorities who’ll be more likely to recover it for you.
Consider A Motorcycle That Has Steering Lock
The idea of having steering lock on vehicles has been around for decades. Only until recently have motorcycle manufacturers started implementing steering locks on the motorcycles they make. Essentially, steering lock is more common among newer motorcycles.
If you are worried about the safety of your motorcycle and are in the market of getting a new one, consider getting a motorcycle that has steering lock on it. Steering lock works by engaging it from the ignition; you turn the handlebars to one side, push the key down into the ignition and turn it to “lock.” This will keep the motorcycle handle and front tire steered and locked towards that direction.
The idea is to keep thieves from being able to start your motorcycle and take it for a ride. Having it turned that way would only take them in circles if they somehow hot wired it.
Some will argue that having steering lock is a bad idea because thieves will just tamper with the ignition and ruin it. That may be so, but that also means the thief now has a motorcycle with a faulty ignition that they’d have to replace if they plan on riding it.
And if ignition tampering is a worry for you, there are actually some ignition cover locks you can get that will keep anyone away from messing with the ignition at all.
Use More Than One Method
As you can see, there are many ways to secure a motorcycle and prevent it from getting stolen. But good anti-theft practice should include using more than one of these methods at a time.
The more security you have on your motorcycle, the more obstacles a thief has to go through to be successful. And the more security measurements they can see you’ve taken, the less likely they end up actually choosing your motorcycle to steal in the first place.
Adding a combination of locking the wheels and keeping it anchored to something immobile will give your motorcycle the best chance at staying safe. As it was mentioned earlier, motorcycle thieves will go with the low hanging fruit first, so if your motorcycle has too much security for them to deal with they’ll likely look elsewhere for a motorcycle that’s much easier to steal.
What You Shouldn’t Do
Aside from keeping your motorcycle locked up and out of the way of thieves to get, there are a few other things you can do and become aware of that will keep your motorcycle that much safer.
Be wary of giving out your address to people who know you have a motorcycle. If possible, don’t give your address to any bike shops you take your motorcycle to. You never know who could be working there and take a special interest in your motorcycle.
If you’re selling your motorcycle, only give your address to people who are serious about actually purchasing your motorcycle. If possible, meet at a public place such as a grocery store parking lot so you don’t have to give out your address at all.
Be careful with leaving your motorcycle unattended even for just a second. If you’re out for an errand, realize you forgot something at home and turn around to go back and get it, don’t leave your motorcycle sitting in your driveway with the key in the ignition. Seasoned thieves pounce on opportunities like this. Always take your keys with you.
Don’t leave important documents on your motorcycle. Any important document associated with your motorcycle should be kept safe either in a filing cabinet in your home or in your wallet that goes with you everywhere. You’d be surprised at how many people leave the title in a compartment on their motorcycle which makes it much easier for thieves to sell.
It’s okay to share pictures of your beautiful machine on social media, but don’t post pictures of it in your garage or other places you plan on storing it. Thieves, including someone you may know, will take note of this and get as much information about your motorcycle as possible from social media. Keep the pictures for times when you’re out and about with your bike.
Stolen Motorcycle Statistics
The invincible mindset is what gets people’s motorcycles stolen in the first place. People sometimes think “I’ve never had a problem keeping it outside these past few years. It won’t happen to me.” But all it takes is a few seconds for a thief to come by and snatch it up.
Motorcycle theft might be more common than you think. Looking at statistics should help motorcycle owners realize how important it is to safely lock up their motorcycle.
According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, there were 44,268 motorcycles stolen in the United States in 2017. Out of all those motorcycles stolen, about 42% of them were recovered. That’s less than half of those motorcycles that were recovered (which is pretty sad).
Statistically, the more heavily populated a place is, the more likely a motorcycle will get stolen. Los Angeles, CA, San Diego, CA, Miami, FL, New York, NY, and Clark, NV are the top five cities with the most motorcycle thefts. Combined, they account for about 12% of all motorcycles stolen in the U.S.
Typically, motorcycle thefts occur during the warmer months of the year with May through October being the highest marked months. And it’s no wonder. People have their motorcycles out during this time so they’re much easier to target.
Honda motorcycles are stolen the most and account for almost 20% of all motorcycle thefts. Yamaha, Suzuki, Harley, and Kawasaki are close behind.
What To Do If Your Motorcycle Is Stolen
Hopefully it never happens to you, but there are a few things you should do if your motorcycle is ever stolen. First and foremost, contact the police as soon as you can and inform them your motorcycle has been stolen. Be sure to have updated pictures of your motorcycle so police can get an accurate description of what they’re looking for.
Immediately after reporting it stolen to the authorities, inform your motorcycle insurance company. It is possible for the thief to have caused an accident/damage and you are held liable for it if you don’t notify your insurance company in time.
It’s actually okay to go out and look for it yourself within reason (like driving around neighborhoods, not snooping around people’s garages). Do NOT confront anyone if you have found it. If you do find it, immediately contact the police and inform them of it’s location. Let the police handle the confrontation.
Look on online platforms to see if anyone is attempting to sell your stolen motorcycle. It’s possible they may have done some customizing to it, so don’t just look for your colors. Look for your make and model in general and see if anything looks familiar. Also keep an eye out for parts that could belong to your motorcycle.
Post like crazy on your social media accounts. This is another reason to keep updated pictures of your motorcycle so you can show your friends what it looks like. Making that many people aware and on the lookout will increase your chances of recovering your motorcycle. For more information about what to do if your motorcycle is stolen, see my other article here.