By Arthur Yarwood*
The last few years have seen London struggle to control a huge motorcycle crime wave. At its peak in 2017, 15,497 motorcycles and scooters were stolen in London1, that’s over 42 a day! Crime figures have since been brought down by a concerted Police action, including tactics to ram thieves off bikes and an awareness campaign of preventative security owners should use.
However, thieves are getting ever resourceful, no longer just relying on bolt croppers, today’s tooled up criminals are carrying battery powered angle grinders, freeze sprays to shatter brittle metal and using (previously stolen) scooters to push stolen bikes away.
What can you do to avoid motorcycle theft? 80% of motorcycle theft occurs at home with average thefts taking only 20 seconds!2 So, tool up and invest in the best motorcycle security devices you can buy, follow the tips below on what to look for in heavy duty security for use at home.
As a minimum, invest in a security chain with 16mm case-hardened links; 16mm is too big to be attacked by big bolt croppers and through-hardened links are too brittle, the whole link will shatter after one side is broken. With grinder attacks so common, larger chains with links up to 22mm are available from the firms like Almax and Pragmasis. Still not 100% grinder proof, but they’ll take considerable longer to cut and put off all but the most determined thieves.
When locking your bike, keep your chain elevated off the ground, it’ll be a lot harder to attack if it can’t be braced against something solid.
A chain alone won’t stop you motorcycle being lifted into a van, you need to chain you bike down to something solid like a ground anchor. These are either a hoop design to bolt to a concrete floor (with measures to prevent unbolting) or are a Y-shaped pipework design to be sunken into a fresh concrete hole. The latter are neater and flush to the floor, but more effort to install. Once a good chain is threaded through your bike and the ground anchor, no-one will lift your bike away without a good deal of angle grinder work.
Essentially a lockable pin clamp to go on your brake disc to prevent your bike being rolled away. Not as secure as a quality chain and often removed relatively quickly with a grinder, either directly or by grinding a chunk out of the brake disc! However, disc locks are still a worthwhile buy due to their portability for when you’re parked up away from home and many are available with a loud alarm. If you’ve got one, use it in combination with your chain and ground anchor at home as well to increase the theft effort.
Obviously a thin rain cover isn’t going to secure your bike much, but a cover will hide your bike from prying eyes and opportunist thieves. They won’t know if you’ve got a posh Ducati or a tatty commuter hack, what manner of security gear you have in place and are one more thing to slow a thief down. Don’t take my word for it, a bike cover was also a key part of the recent Met Police “Be Safe Lock Chain Cover” campaign3 to raise awareness of motorbike theft in London. Considering the low cost of a cover, they’re well worth using.
Motorcycle theft is a big problem in many cities and should not be dismissed without thought. You maybe insured against theft, but excesses and future hikes in premiums will still hit your wallet. Above are some simple measures and a minimum to protect yourself, more tips are in this motorcycle security guide. Ultimately, there is no single wonder device, use multiple, each requiring more time and effort to overcome.
Arthur Yarwood | Beginner Biker Adventures – Seasoned London commuter, doing my best to stay rubber side down.
- Met Police (https://www.met.police.uk/SysSiteAssets/foi-media/metropolitan-police/disclosure_2018/february_2018/information-rights-unit—detailed-breakdown-of-statistics-for-motorcycle-theft-in-london-by-borough-for-2017)
- National Crime Intelligence Service (NCIS)
- Met Police, Be Safe scooter theft (https://www.met.police.uk/police-forces/metropolitan-police/areas/about-us/about-the-met/campaigns/be-safe-campaign/be-safe-scooter-theft/)