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TIPS TO PREVENT A BIKE THEFT

Oh no! Your bike is missing and doesn’t seem to be on its way back anytime soon. Was there something you might have done to prevent its theft? Christopher McLeod weighs in with what seems to be very basic advice, which often falls on deaf ears, until it’s too late. So in the meantime here are some tips to help prevent a bike theft.

It is with great difficulty that I share my thoughts on Bandits. I only wish I was speaking of the Suzukis, because that would be way more fun. Unfortunately, I speak of those who creep around in the night, looking to help themselves to what most of us work hard to earn, keep, and enjoy. Several weeks ago, my motorcycle was taken from the front of my house as I was sleeping. Since that night, I have kept the porch light on hoping for its return, but I am beginning to lose hope.

When it comes to thieves, let’s discuss the things I did wrong, and the things I did right, and forever stop motorcycle theft! Okay, maybe not end it forever, but we can learn what it takes to prevent, stop, and slow it down. I realize that if someone really, really wants your machine, they will try and take it. So how do we stop them?

FLASHBACK: IT’S 4:30 A.M. I AM STANDING IN MY HOUSE LOOKING out the front window, puzzled, because my 1992 Kawasaki is not where I left it. I rub my eyes. Nope, it’s still not there. Heading outside, I look up and down the street: nothing. Now walking around the block, getting desperate, I am on the lookout while calling the police on my cell. I know they will spring into action, sending out all cars.

“Can you hold please,” the officer says on the phone. They need the make, model, colour, and licence plates. “Any distinguishing marks?” 

“Yes, it’s a green Kawasaki!” I reply. They do not ask me for the VIN. 

Later that morning, I place a call to the insurance company. Not to make a claim, but merely to cancel the policy on the bike. You see, it was a ’92. Who steals a ’92, right? So no theft insurance. I sat down and figured out that what I saved in not paying for theft coverage equaled about half of what I paid for the bike. This leads me to Tip Number one: If you have more than a couple thousand into your ride, go for the theft coverage.

The day marches on. I work my way into the Ministry of Transportation.  When they stole the bike, it was plated. I needed to report the plates, as well as the motorcycle, stolen. It was at this point that they needed the VIN and the police report number. Now I am protected if I get a bill from the 407 on those plates, I hope—or if someone tries to register my bike. Nothing exciting happens; they ask for the ownership, and then they give it back. I was expecting a large “STOLEN” to be stamped in red, but there are no changes. The hope of its safe return fades even farther away as I walk out of the office.

So what else did I do wrong? What tips to prevent a bike theft should I have considered? I never locked the bike. I know, don’t say it; it was a ’92 already. Anyway, this does make for a rather easy target. You could walk up to my bike, grab it by the handlebars, and simply walk away. Bye-bye, thank you for coming. Locking your bike is a simple thing to do, all the time. Most bikes will allow you to lock the forks, a great start and really simple. Next would be some sort of disc brake lock. Or even better, a disc brake lock with an alarm. The alarm feature will also help remind you of the lock before you ride away. Or try to, anyway. If you are able to go online, do a search under “motorcycle locks” and you will see all the different types available. While I have not used one, I have read some good reviews about Xena. Another option is to lock your bike to a stationary object, preferably a big one. Light poles work well for this. It is my understanding that these poles are difficult to move. You can also lock your bike to another bike when you are riding with a group. Two, three, four bikes all locked together are hard to move, especially with no one noticing. So that would bring us to Tip Number Two: Always lock your bike. This could have saved my machine.

As mentioned, the Xena disc lock has an alarm feature available, but stand-alone audible systems can also be installed on your bike. Much like a car alarm, if you touch it, it screams. These systems typically come with a warning LED light. Sometimes the flashing LED is enough to stop the thieves from trying. I have seen alarm systems that are a very simple siren. They would take the average handy person 15-20 minutes to install. Of course, there are the more advanced systems with adjustable perimeter sensors, long-range pagers, siren, flashing lights, starter disable, ignition monitor, all controlled by a remote transmitter. 

An extension of this system would be a GPS tracking system. These units have come a long way in the last few years. With the proper system installed, the bike can notify you via email or a phone call if it is moved. Then log on to the Internet and real-time tracking is available—at a cost, of course. I like this idea because it aids the police in catching the thieves red-handed. Off to the slammer you go! A combination of any of these systems would work well as a theft deterrent. None of which I had on my bike, of course.

What did I actually do right? Well, I did park it in a well-lit area. I also had some good photos to document what the machine looked like. At the time, I did not have a garage, but now that I do, the next machine will be locked in there, blocked in well with my car. Keeping your bike in the garage helps a lot, but still lock it up inside.

Now, I have lost track of what tip number we are on, but hopefully you get the idea. A little prevention goes a long way, especially with theft recovery hovering in the 30 per cent range. So, how set-up are you to protect your ride? It’s 2 a.m.; do you know where your motorcycle is? Don’t be in my walking shoes; be in your riding boots! Lock it. Alarm it. Ride it.

By Christopher McLeod Canadian Biker #236

Further Tips To Prevent a Bike Theft  

It’s been said that locks only keep out honest people. Perhaps, but the sturdier the lock the better your odds are of preventing theft. I owned a bike with several thousand dollars worth of performance and accessory parts. So it’s obvious I don’t want my bike taken by some stranger: honest or otherwise. For security, I rely on one of the siren-equipped disc locks manufactured by Xena. 

The model I mount to my Thruxton’s front disc is the XN14, a handsome wedge-shaped chunk of stainless steel alloyed with a high nickel content. Inside the works lies a 110db warning siren that’s powered by six alkaline button cell batteries sitting in a digital housing. The siren assembly itself is easily removed by the owner if he just wants to use the lock in a conventional hardware kind of way, though I don’t know why he would. The alarm shrieks once after the lock with its 14mm pin has been attached to the disc, informing the owner the dual shock and motion sensors are now armed. After that, any attempt to upright the bike without first unlocking it results in all kinds of holy hell as the alarm whistles and screams. I know it scared the neighbours silly when I first began to play with it. Great fun actually!

The hitch with the Xena XN14 though is that the steel trap door locking in the siren assembly is held down with a simple Allen head screw running through the body. It’s not difficult to remove the screw and pop out the siren, but the thief better be smooth about the process. And then he still has the high security key and barrel of the ultra sturdy lock itself to beat. Good luck with that, creepo!

-John Campbell

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