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Protect Your Motorcycle From Theft

The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program estimates that 794,616 motor vehicle thefts occurred nationwide in 2009, totaling nearly $5.2 billion in losses. In addition, the National Insurance Crime Bureau reports that the top five states for motorcycle theft activity in 2009 were California, Texas, Florida, North Carolina, and Georgia. Together these states accounted for 21,920 thefts. Unfortunately, the recovery rate is lower for motorcycles in comparison to other vehicles — only 25-30% of motorcycle thefts are successfully recovered. Theft is costly, which makes it clear that theft prevention is a worthwhile investment. This is best accomplished with the following equipment and practices:

  • Locks
    Most modern motorcycles feature an electrical system lock that prevents the motorcycle’s electrical system from operating without the key inserted. However, this lock may be bypassed, so you shouldn’t rely on this anti-theft feature alone. Secure your bike to a stationary object with a lock and a chain running through the motorcycle frame. Most motorcycles also come equipped with a steering lock that allows you to lock the handle bars fully turned to either the left or right, to help prevent thieves from simply rolling your bike up a ramp, and into the back of a truck. Another worthwhile investment is a disk brake lock that will make the wheel it’s attached to inoperable. Anchoring your vehicle to the floor if you have access to a home garage can also prevent theft.

  • Storage
    When parking away from home, keep your motorcycle parked where you can see it and, if you can, check on it periodically. Parking in conspicuous, well-lit, and open areas may help to deter thefts. At home, if you have a garage where you can store your bike, install locks on your garage doors and block the path to the motorcycle.

  • Alarms
    Electronic anti-theft devices or immobilizers are one-way or two-way alarm systems installed to the existing electrical system. These immobilize the engine and alert the owner when the motorcycle is being tampered with. The control module, its antenna, and the power supply should be hidden or designed in a way to prevent their destruction. Keep in mind that two-way pagers have a range limit where they can no longer alert the driver, so don’t assume that you’ll always be alerted if something happens to your bike.

  • GPS Tracking Systems
    One of the latest aids in protecting your motorcycle from theft is by installing a GPS tracking device offered by companies like LoJack. These systems operate independently of your motorcycle’s electronic systems, and the company will notify you if the motorcycle moves without the key. Or, if the motorcycle is stolen with the key, as soon as it is reported stolen, the bike’s GPS tracking information is turned over to the police immediately.

  • Stolen Vehicle Recovery
    A vehicle identification number, or VIN, is a unique 17-character code labeled to describe and identify the vehicle. All vehicles manufactured after the 1981 model year are assigned a VIN, which records the country of origin and the manufacturer within the first three digits, and the vehicle type within the next six digits. The ninth digit indicates if the VIN number is genuine, and the tenth denotes the year of manufacture. Finally, the last eight digits are an identification number unique to the motorcycle.

    Police use the VIN to track a vehicle, but other identification on your vehicle will help track it down if the VIN is somehow damaged or obscured. Keeping a copy of the vehicle registration or the VIN somewhere hidden on the vehicle may aid in its recovery. Unique parts, markings, or equipment may also help to distinguish and locate your motorcycle. Keep photographs of your motorcycle on hand just in case you need to help prove identification.

  • Insurance
    Most automotive insurance companies will offer a discount applicable to comprehensive coverage for anti-theft equipment or preventive measures. Alarm devices, VIN placement, storage, motion sensors, and vehicle recovery devices (GPS trackers) may allow you to reduce insurance your insurance premiums.