Guard Your Ride: How To Keep A Motorcycle From Getting Stolen


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Every motorcycle enthusiast knows the heart-pounding feeling of laying eyes on their prized possession, the gleaming chrome, the rumbling engine, and the exhilaration of hitting the open road. But with the joy of ownership comes the responsibility of safeguarding your ride against the threat of theft.

Thousands of motorcycles are stolen every year, but luckily there are several proven strategies that can help you not become a part of that statistic. Having owned dozens of motorcycles myself with a lot of those being owned while living in an apartment with no garage, I can attest to these suggestions.

So, let’s roll up our sleeves and ensure that your ride remains exactly where it belongs, away from the would-be thieves.

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 because 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. Most 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.

Detract Attention

Alright, let’s get to the nitty gritty. 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 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

If you own a car, try parking your motorcycle sideways in front of your car. If you don’t own a car, perhaps you could ask a neighbor if you can park your motorcycle in front of their car.

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 or driving. 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.

Use A 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 Liftmaster myQ Smart Garage Control (link to Amazon.com). This nifty gadget connects to your garage door opening mechanism. It has a base and a sensor connected to the garage door that tells the base whether or not the garage door is open.

It also has 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 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.

I personally use this device in my garage. I currently have three motorcycles parked in there and this garage controller gives me the peace of mind knowing my motorcycles are safe.

Security Cameras

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 Outdoor Ring Camera (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.

This Ring camera can be mounted almost anywhere, but this specific one was intended to be used outside. There is an app you can download and get a live stream. For a small monthly fee, you can store recorded footage when it senses movement. 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 an indoor version of 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.

Use A 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.

Use A 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.

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 put it 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 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.

GPS Tracker

If you like to have the exact location of your motorcycle at all times, something like the Monimoto GPS Tracker 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

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.

Put Unique Markings On Your Motorcycle

If you don’t have any custom work done on your motorcycle, it’s always a good idea to put some type of unique marking on it in the case it gets stolen. This can be anything like placing a sticker on the handlebars, to scratching an inconspicuous piece of frame, to adding an odd object under the seat. This will help quickly identify your motorcycle if it ever does get stolen.

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.

Some insurance companies will give discounts to those who take extra steps in keeping their motorcycle safe. You can view different insurance companies and their rates by clicking here.

What You Shouldn’t Do

In addition to what you should do to keep your motorcycle safe from would-be thieves, there are a few things you shouldn’t do to keep your motorcycle secure.

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 wary of leaving your motorcycle unattended even for just a second with the keys 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 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.

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, there were 51,291 motorcycles stolen in the United States in 2021. 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).

California leads the nation in motorcycle theft with 9,345 stolen rides in 2021. Not too far behind is Texas (4,263), Florida (3,698), New York (2,662), and Washington state (1,947).

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 this 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 individual parts for sale 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.

I have a full, in-depth article about what to do if your motorcycle is stolen. You can read that by clicking here.

Conclusion

If you have a motorcycle or are looking into buying a motorcycle, you’re already on the right track by researching how to prevent it from getting stolen. From parking it strategically to using security devices, you’ll be sure to deter those thieves and convince them to go elsewhere. I’ve personally used these methods on my own motorcycles and have seen great success with it.

What about you guys, do you have any other suggestions to prevent your motorcycle from getting stolen? Feel free to reach out or comment!

Related Question

How can you tell if a motorcycle is stolen? To tell if a motorcycle is stolen, you can have your local DMV run a VIN inspection, use online VIN inspection databases, contact your insurance and have them search their database, contact shops where the owner supposedly had the motorcycle serviced, notice any hesitancy from the seller, and see if the situation is all around too good to be true. You can learn more by clicking here.

This article has been reviewed in accordance with our editorial policy.

Kyle Cannon

Kyle currently works as a mechanical engineer and graduated with a minor in automotive engineering. He loves restoring motorcycles, has a vast knowledge of how they work, and has sold his restoration projects to customers from all over the United States.

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