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Motorcycles are targets for thieves for a number of reasons – their size, their high value in a relatively small package, the ability to chop and part them out, and the fact that motorcycle security systems are fairly easy to bypass if a thief is experienced.
The last thing you want is to walk out to where you park your bike and find it missing.
Use some of these tips to help prevent your motorcycle from being stolen.
Tips for Motorcycle Theft Prevention
Looking for the quick rundown? Here are the top tips for preventing your motorcycle from being stolen.
- Lock the Steering
- Lock the Ignition
- Install a Hidden Kill Switch
- Use a Combination of Quality Locks
- Secure the Bike to Something Heavy and Hard to Get Leverage On
- Always Park in Well-Lit, Visible Areas
- Set the Alarm
- Do Not Store your Title/Pink Slip on the Bike
- Get the Right Motorcycle Insurance Policy
If you’re thinking about buying a used motorcycle, learn how to find out if the bike is stolen.
No motorcycle security system, alarm, or lock is 100% theft-proof.
However, the more difficult the obstacles you add for would-be thieves will make their job harder and keep your bike safer.
1. Lock the Steering
The first thing you can do is lock your motorcycle’s forks or steering.
Doing so will make it much harder to move the bike.
2. Lock the Ignition
If your motorcycle has a separate ignition lock, be sure to set it every time you park.
Many riders make the mistake of shutting off the ignition without locking it.
3. Install a Hidden Kill Switch
If you frequently park your motorcycle in an area with high ride-away theft, you can install a secret kill switch to make it much harder to steal your bike.
4. Use a Combination of Quality Locks
Anytime you add an additional lock, you add more time required to steal your bike.
If you’re able to combine 2 or 3 high-quality motorcycle locks, you’ll greatly reduce the chances of having your bike stolen.
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5. Secure the Bike to Something Heavy and Hard to Get Leverage On
When using a chain lock to secure your motorcycle, be sure to lock it around something heavy and hard to move.
Additionally, try to remove as much slack as possible from the chain and keep it off the ground.
This will make it much harder for a thief to get leverage on the lock to break it.
6. Always Park in Well-Lit, Visible Areas
When you do park your motorcycle, try to do so in places where:
- You can see the bike.
- It is well lit.
- Public areas that would make it difficult to break locks.
If you park in your garage, you can lock the garage doors and block your motorcycle with any cars you may have.
7. Set the Alarm
Arming your motorcycle with an audible alarm is a great way to help prevent theft.
This will not only help alert you and anyone else that is nearby, it will often scare off the thief as they don’t want to attract attention to themselves.
8. Do Not Store your Title/Pink Slip on the Bike
Be sure to keep your motorcycle title in a safe, secure location.
Do not keep the title with you or on the bike.
While you’ll need to carry your registration on your bike, you should also make a copy of your registration documents to keep in a safe place.
9. Get the Right Motorcycle Insurance Policy
Finally, make sure you choose an appropriate motorcycle insurance policy that will help you in the event that your motorcycle is stolen.
You’ll want coverage that will help minimize and protect you from any financial loss if your bike is stolen.
How to Protect Your Motorcycle from Theft
Motorcycle theft prevention falls into 2 main categories: security where your park your bike long term (i.e. where you live or work) and security when you park your bike temporarily.
If you’re able to, park and store your bike in a secure garage. This includes having locks to your garage, blocking your bike with your car, and installing security cameras and lights.
If you don’t have access to a secure garage, follow as many of the suggestions below as you can.
To prevent your motorcycle from being stolen:
- Lock your steering.
- Turn off and lock your ignition.
- Use a disc lock or thick chain lock on the rear wheel and swing-arm, if possible.
- Keep chains as tight as possible – more slack makes it easier to cut.
- Lock the bike to a secure object.
- Use a motorcycle alarm and lo-jack.
- Do not store your title or your keys on the bike.
- Install and use a hidden kill switch, if possible.
- Place markings or something unique on your motorcycle and keep current pictures of your bike.
Some theft-prevention tips for temporary parking situations include:
- Removing your clutch lever or removing a spark plug.
- Parking in a highly visible area or in front of security cameras.
- Parking in a tight space – i.e. behind a car or other obstruction.
- Lock bikes together when riding in groups and parking for a while.
What is the best way to lock up a motorcycle?
The best way to lock a motorcycle is whatever is going to make a thief’s job more difficult.
Unfortunately, no security system is 100% theft proof.
But, the more difficult you make it to get your bike, the less likely it will be stolen.
The most appropriate security system for your motorcycle depends on where you live and what type of bike you have, but some of the best methods include:
- Choosing locks that are hard to brake or pick.
- Using an audible alarm.
- Using multiple locking systems (e.g. a disc lock and an external chain).
- Parking in a highly visible area or an area monitored by security cameras.
- Parking in a way that makes getting to your bike or moving your bike difficult.
The most common ways that motorcycles are stolen are ride-aways on the bike or pick ups with a van or truck.
Ride aways are typically more common for stolen motorcycles.
If you make it harder or more time consuming for a thief to get your bike started and moving it’s less likely to be driven away.
How do Thieves Steal Motorcycles?
The most common form of motorcycle theft involves the thief actually riding away on the bike.
Another way is loading the stolen bike into a van or truck.
Why? It’s much easier to get away on a small, fast motorcycle than it is on a big, slow truck or van.
This means the more obstacles you can create for would-be thieves to ride away on your bike or pick up and move the bike, the better.
Most Commonly Stolen Motorcycles
The most commonly stolen motorcycles are the most commonly ridden motorcycles. i.e. The common sport and super-sport models from the major motorcycle makes are stolen the most. These include:
Lost of visible aftermarket upgrades and accessories can also make your bike a higher target for motorcycle thieves.
The most common months where motorcycle thefts occur are during the summer in:
This makes sense, as more people ride when it’s warmer and bikes may be more commonly parked in easy-to-steal locations.
In the U.S., the most motorcycle thefts occur in the following states:
- New York.
- North Carolina.
- South Carolina.
Top cities for motorcycle theft include:
- New York, NY.
- Los Angeles, CA.
- Miami, FL.
- Las Vegas, NV.
- San Diego, CA.
- San Francisco, CA.
- Houston, TX.
- Philadelphia, PA.
- Austin, TX.
- San Jose, CA.
If you live in an area where motorcycle theft is common, or you simply want to protect your bike, you should consider adding comprehensive coverage to your motorcycle insurance policy.
Motorcycle theft statistics come from NICB.org.