Inside The Mind Of A Motorcycle Thief

“I could swear I parked my bike right here on the street last night.” “Maybe it was around the corner.” After doing a couple of laps around the block, you realize your bike is gone and probably not coming back home.

This situation begins to remind you of seeing a “lost dog” sign in an area with a host of predators. Your little pug (or motorcycle in this analogy) has served its purpose of being someone else’s dinner and isn’t coming back. If left unprotected, it cannot fend for or protect itself.

Thieves look for vulnerable subjects and identifiable patterns that reveal an easy target. Being able to counteract these signals and prove to be a tough target will keep you and your motorcycle safe.

Contrary to popular belief, there are ways to prevent this situation from occurring if you have the right knowledge. Using the proper tools and behaviors will keep your bike snuggled in tight at home.

In general, using the proper grade lock and restraint attached from your motorcycle frame to a static object will prevent theft. Adding a motion-triggered alarm in the form of another lock will assure no parts will be stolen.

7 Steps To Prevent Motorcycle Theft

  1. Don’t leave your bike on the street: Aside from leaving the keys in the ignition, it doesn’t get much easier for a thief than a bike sitting outside parked on a curb. The first problem is there probably isn’t anything to lock your bike down to, so your bike can simply be picked up and thrown into a truck bed or van with ease. The other problem is visibility. Everyone can see your bike sitting out on the street like a small field mouse being stalked by a hawk.
  2. Parking garages are not safe: It is a myth that parking garages provide security against bike theft. Even if gated, waiting for someone to come or go to open the gate isn’t rocket science. Most importantly, riders will just park their bikes in the garage with no safety measures taken thinking they’re safe.
  3. Try to find well-lit, high-traffic places to park: If you don’t have a home garage, do your best to keep your bike in a strategic location. Assuming you don’t have any locks or alarms, parking near lighting and people will at least reduce the chance of theft.
  4. Use multiple, high-quality locks: Although heavy, I always recommend multiple locks and a restraint like a chain. One lock and chain through your frame attached to a static object like a pillar or pole anchored to the ground will keep the bike in place, but this won’t prevent the theft of individual parts like wheels and exhaust.
  5. Include a motion-sensing alarm: Adding an alarm in the form of a disc lock will add another layer of protection to ward off any poachers looking to steal or vandalize your ride. These are remote operated and easy to setup.
  6. Be aware of your surroundings: Use good judgement and have keen awareness of where you are and what dangers are present. If you’re traveling or visiting a friend, do some research on the town and where you’ll be staying.
  7. Don’t let your guard down: It’s not good practice to make assumptions about the safety of the area you’re in or the training of the security on staff. It can be easy to let your guard down in a wealthy area thinking crime won’t come this way.
This is a disturbing video depicting a motorcycle being stolen.

This video highlights multiple pain points that most riders never consider.

A motorcycle only weighs a couple of hundred pounds and can easily be lifted by two adult men. The bike in the video was covered and may have even had a disc lock, but none of that mattered. Also, note it was 5:30 pm when this bike was stolen. As mentioned previously, parking garages provide little protection and can provide some cover for the thieves if positioned properly.

Locking the bike to that pillar or adding a loud alarm could have stopped this crime.

Preventative Measures That Won’t Stop A Thief

With that said, there are some safety measures that don’t necessarily hurt to do but definitely won’t be the solution. I’m not saying avoid these actions, just don’t use them with the ignorance of thinking they stand alone as a solution to bike theft.

  • Bike cover

Covering your motorcycle will help to hide the brand of the bike and keep a low profile. However, thieves typically do research and stalk a victim, so they will have already seen what you’re riding. If you only cover your bike and don’t have a lock present, it’s simply up for the taking.

  • Steering lock

The steering lock is engaged by pushing the key down in the ignition and turning to the left with the handlebars locked to one side.

Almost every bike I’ve ever seen has a steering lock built-in. While this proves to be a funny way to pull a joke on your buddy, locking your steering won’t prevent theft. Thieves don’t roll bikes away to their secret lair a few blocks down the street. They typically pick them up and put them in another vehicle, and a steering lock does little to stop this.

  • Disc lock

A single-disc lock by itself serves a similar purpose to a steering lock. The bike won’t roll to much effect but again this does not matter to a thief. The lock needs to anchor the bike to something very hard to move and have an alarm

  • Immobilizer

Some higher-end bikes have an immobilizer to prevent bikes from being started without the proper key. While this does prove to be an inconvenience after completing the theft, it is surmountable and does not prevent the act itself from being performed. Bikes equipped with an immobilizer like Ducati motorcycles require a new dash assembly, full set of keys, and in some cases a new ecm if not at least a reflash to be started if no original keys are present. While this will cost thousands, these exotic bikes go for much more money than the average crotch rocket.

Which Brand Of Motorcycle Gets Stolen The Most Often?

The reality is that all bikes are susceptible to theft and should be protected accordingly. Regarding numbers, logic would present that the most sold motorcycle will get stolen at the highest rate.

Not surprisingly, Honda, Yamaha, and Kawasaki are the most common motorcycles stolen by number. These are arguably the most popular motorcycles and are typically owned by less responsible young adults not particularly concerned with security.

This is not to say that other manufacturers are impervious to theft, as some of the exotics can be valued at multiples more than imports.

Additionally, big bikes like Harley-Davidsons are vulnerable because of their growing popularity. While you won’t see as many parked carelessly on the street, they can still be lifted into a truck by a few guys.

Where Do Most Motorcycles Get Stolen?

There are some high-vulnerability scenarios for bike theft that are worth looking into. This might seem counterintuitive to some riders who haven’t given this much thought.

Motorcycles often get stolen at motorcycle events in higher than average numbers. Events may include parades, shows, races, or gatherings.

A few “proud” Ducati owners

Interestingly, patrons at motorcycle events can prove to be unsuspecting. You will see a lot of riders park their bike and then walk away to enjoy the event. This leaves behind a vulnerable bike, and with so many people, nobody remembers who parked it there so nobody speaks up.

There’s a concept called “diffusion of responsibility” which basically says if there are a lot of people around all experiencing the same thing, then everyone thinks everyone else will do something about it and then they themselves take no action.

Ever see someone broken down on the side of the road and think, “I’m sure someone is on their way to help.” Chances are every car passing by is thinking the same thing and nobody ends up doing anything.

This principle can allow someone to steal a bike in a large gathering and escape before anyone pulls the trigger and takes action.

Does Insurance Cover Motorcycle Theft?

As a general rule, comprehensive motorcycle insurance will cover the cost of replacing a stolen motorcycle, less the deductible.

Comprehensive motorcycle insurance is typically required on a financed bike for this reason exactly. The lender wants to make sure they will be repaid for the bike in which they have a loan.

Some plans will even cover extra accessories, parts, or gear stolen with the motorcycle. In some instances, this can amount to nearly as much as the cost of the bike.

In the instance the bike is recovered but damaged, most comprehensive plans will cover the cost of repairing the damages.

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