Keeping your bike safe

Whenever you acquire something, you also acquire the risk that it could be taken from you. This risk varies according to how useful the object is to others and how easy it is to take it from you with impunity. One particular argument against homeschooling children is that they learn such lessons first-hand – bullies learn that it is easy to take candies or lunch money from weak, loner kids who don’t fight back, when there are no witnesses. The victim goes on to learn that, in future, they have a better chance of not being a victim by fighting back, moving with a group, staying in sight, locking away the candy, making the candy less appealing and so on.

The same applies to adults and our toys. People who buy expensive jewelry don’t just leave it around, unguarded and unwatched, wherever they go. Even if 99 people who spot the opportunity don’t steal it, you can bet that the 100th person will. This basic fact of human nature is the reason that we lock the doors on our houses, lock our cars, keep our valuables in safes and security boxes, wear security belts and so on. Stealing is part of human nature, at least for some among us.

As the owner of a motorbike, you should be aware that, wherever you are in the world, your bike is a target for thieves. The nicer it is, the more they want to take it from you. In some cases, especially when you are in unfamiliar surroundings, simply putting down a pair of biking gloves can draw attention to yourself. While you can always get another pair of gloves from somewhere like Bikers’ Basics, it might not be quite as easy to replace your motorcycle.

One of the best ways to prevent theft is to understand the mentality of potential thieves. It is important to realize that there are two main types of thief – amateurs and professionals. Amateur thieves are often motivated by their immediate needs – they have a pressing debt to pay, there is no food to feed the kids, and so on. They are usually opportunistic and would much prefer to take your wallet than your bike. As such, they don’t have the specialist knowledge to be effective at snatching motorcycles. If you take regular security precautions, such as locking your bike and chaining it up, it is unlikely that you’ll fall victim to an amateur thief. If, on the other hand, you don’t like to lock your bike when you stop to buy a snack somewhere – there is a chance that someone might try to snatch it.

Professional thieves are in it for the money. They will steal any bike they think can be sold. Very often, these people work in organizations – there will be a spotter, who identifies targets, assesses risks and comes up with a strategy for theft; the ‘fence’, who buys the stolen bikes and prepares them for resale on both the legitimate and black markets; then the actual thieves themselves – usually young and skilled, used to confrontations and evading the law. The thieves are ideally looking to make between $1,000 and $4,000 per stolen bike, in the USA. If your bike is worth less than $1,000, you have some innate protection against theft. This is partly because there are often other people in on the job, who need to be paid – hotel front staff, shop counter staff, security guards can all be paid off by bike thieves.

A typical thief simply looks to break any physical locks or chains before hotwiring the bike and using it as a getaway vehicle. They will usually dress in biker gear, helmet and all, for disguise, to prevent leaving their DNA on the bike and to protect themselves in case of a high-speed chase. They know that their only chance of getting caught, once riding your bike, is by being pursued by other bikes or a helicopter and bikes. Despite what you may have seen in movies, thieves don’t load bikes into trucks or vans – if they do, they are likely to get caught quickly. Your bike may be fitted with a tracking system, which the thieves need to disable quickly.