I read an interesting article the other day about the 10 Things Motorcycle Thieves Don’t Want You To Know by Sanja Zakovska.  Some of the things listed in the article are common sense, but there were a couple that I didn’t previously think about. Let’s take a look at how thieves supposedly think and some of the author’s suggestions.

Say No to gated-parking garages in apartment complexes.

According to the article, it’s the first place where thieves go “shopping”.  I didn’t think that a private gated parking area often blanketed with cameras is a place of high motorcycle theft.  But when you step back, if it only takes a minute or two to steal your bike and the thief wears a helmet, it seems like it could be true.  The supposed high-risk places are:

  • shopping mall parking spots
  • parking garages
  • detached garages at apartment complexes
  • college “bike parking”
oxford wall lock

Chaining your bike to an unmovable object like a wall could help save your bike.  Photo credit: Oxford

Never leave your spare keys or documents in or on the bike.

Yup, this one seems pretty straight forward, especially concerning the keys.  But I must admit I have left my bike registration under the seat in the past, especially when the paperwork is voluminous.  I keep all my paperwork in my wallet now, but some states have so much paperwork that it is a hassle.

Be wary of second-hand dealers and bike-mover companies.

According to the article, you should try to leave as little information as possible when buying a used bike — no address, full name, etc.  She claims that more than often, they are involved in the “game”.  From my perspective, buying a used motorcycle is riskier than purchasing one from a reputable dealer, but are they “more than often” involved in theft?  I don’t think so, but perhaps she is talking about high crime areas.

oxford lock with alarm

A disc lock with an integrated alarm. Photo credit: Oxford

The article says that the same goes for motorcycle movers, and it encourages you to arrange your own transport whenever you can.  Once again, I think you need to be careful in selecting who will move your bike, but is this really a risky proposition?  There are so many reputable movers that this should be a non-issue if you just use a reasonable amount of care.

Is your bike a high-risk target?

This one is sort of a no brainer.  The article says that if you own any of the following, you are at risk because the bikes below are the highest on the “shopping list” for thieves.  It also says that any bike 7+ years old is “unlikely to get stolen.”  So, according to the article, what are the highest bikes on a thief’s shopping list?

  • Harley
  • New to three-year-old models

This is one I haven’t thought about much.  I’ve had one bike that thieves tried to steal, but they didn’t try to come back to steal it again.  So whether this claim is true, I don’t know.  But it is a pretty scary scenario, but not as scary as the scenario below.

If you just got a replacement for your stolen bike, they WILL be back for it.

Really?  Now that my insurance has resulted in a new bike, the thief(s) will come back to see what I replaced it with?  I hadn’t thought about that previously.  The article goes so far as to say that the thieves are already putting your replacement machine on the “to-do” list.  Yikes!

chain utility pole

Multiple security devices can make it more difficult for thieves to steal your bike. Photo credit: Squire

There is no single-best security solution.

The article says that you must first understand how the minds of thieves work.  It says they will be looking for the fastest/most quiet way of stealing that bike.  That makes sense.  But the article goes on to say that you should use a combination of security systems that look difficult and time consuming to break.  So what does the article suggest?  The best solution is having all 3 of the below:

  1. A disk lock on the REAR wheel that has its own alarm.   The article claims that cutting these types of locks will “most probably not be an option” and that removing a rear wheel takes longer and is harder to remove than the front one.
  2. A chain lock going through hard parts of the bike.  For example, the bike’s frame, swingarm, etc.  If this is not possible, the article suggests that you place the disk lock on the front wheel and chain the rear wheel to an immovable object.  It says that you should try to ensure that the chain is not resting on the ground as a dangling chain is more difficult to cut than one laying on the ground.
  3. Lock the steering.  Most thieves can easily break the steering lock, but the article argues that locking the steering is another item that takes additional time, something that thieves don’t want.

GPS trackers

If you have a GPS tracker installed, make sure you keep the wiring and boxes out of the obvious places. The article says today’s thieves will definitely be looking for any non-OEM wires/hardware under the seat and tank.


If you use a motorcycle cover or use a tarp as one, the article suggests that you buy an inexpensive lock with an alarm and use it to tie the cover around the bike. It’s an additional hassle for thieves; it makes noise, and they have no idea what’s waiting for them underneath in terms of security.

Chain bikes one to another when traveling.

This one could or could not make sense.  If there is only one chain between the two of you, both bikes are now easy prey if a thief defeats the chain.  But it does make sense if each of you has another means of securing your own bike.  Once again, it will take more time to defeat multiple security devices.  It’s time that most thieves don’t want to waste.

Be on the lookout for “scouts”.

The article says that professional thieves will scout your bike numerous times.  So it suggests that you be mindful of a person walking with a dog or a kid.  It says they could be checking for security devices and alarms.  While this may be true, how many people walk past your bike each day?  However, if the same person(s) consistently walks by several times, then perhaps you’re seeing a scout and should do more to protect your machine.

So how is it done?

You have to be aware of your surroundings and take as many security precautions as you see fit.  If you wonder what the average time thieves spend on stealing a bike is, the article claims it’s 30 seconds and says that the most time a thief will spend is a couple of minutes.

  1. Sets the ignition to be ready to start.
  2. Security equipment is removed (disk lock, chain).
  3. The steering lock is snapped.
  4. Ignition is plugged, the bike is started.
  5. The bike is taken out of sight and checked for GPS devices.

If your bike is stolen.

Ultimately, it makes sense that more security devices take more time to defeat.  Securing your bike with multiple devices that will require a thief to spend extra time may keep it from being stolen.

So what do you think of these tips?  Do you think they are good ones?  Are there other ones you can give to other riders?  Let us know in the comments below.




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