If you’ve ever owned a motorcycle, chances are you’ve worried about it being stolen.
In 2013 more than 45,000 bikes were stolen in the U.S., according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau. “Unlike a car … thieves don’t need any expertise to steal a motorcycle,” says Ernest Madkins, a claims analyst with GEICO. “All you need is strength. Two guys can pick up a bike and put it in the back of a van.” Most motorcycles end up cannibalized for their parts, often within a few hours of being stolen.
But bike owners take heart. There are a few simple things you can do to prevent your beloved wheels from suffering that fate.
Keep Your Bike Hidden
Nothing will keep your bike safer than hiding it from the prying eyes of thieves, says Madkins. If you have a garage, always park your bike inside. If you don’t, first cover it with a bike cover, then a non-descript cover, especially at night. That’s not a foolproof plan, but it could cause thieves on what’s known as a “shopping spree” to overlook your ride.
Anchor it Down
If you park your bike outside, use a chain and U-lock to attach it to something sturdy, like a tree or a light pole. If that’s not an option, try lashing it to another bike. Just make sure your lock is suspended in the air, not lying flat on the ground. That will make it harder for thieves to bash it open.
Don’t Rely Exclusively on Alarms
Some motorcycles come with alarms that sound when the bike is jostled. But their value is questionable, says Madkins. “The last time you heard a car alarm, what did you do? Most people ignore it.” So exercise caution. Remember, it’s often easy to disconnect a battery cable or cut the alarm wires, especially on older motorcycles.
Pick Parking Spots Wisely
Many riders like to park their bike between two cars, hoping that will shield it from the gaze of thieves. But all that does is give criminals cover as they break your lock or hotwire your engine. Instead, Madkins says, park your bike in the open and, if possible, near a security camera or street light.
Invest in a Tracking System
Just 25-30 percent of stolen motorcycles are recovered, compared to 60-65 percent of stolen cars, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau. That’s because bike thieves usually make a beeline for the chop shop. You can improve your odds of getting your bike back before that happens with some kind of tracking system, like LoJack.
Ignition locks, kill switches and alarms that cut off fuel to the engine can be helpful, especially on heavy bikes like Harley-Davidsons, which have to be ridden away. But high tech defenses are not as useful on sport bikes—the most commonly stolen motorcycles—because crooks can just load them into a van without starting them up.
Having the proper motorcycle insurance coverage can help protect you from financial loss should you be the victim of bike theft. Get a quote today and see how much you could save with GEICO.
By Andrew Raven