3 Types of Motorcycle Theft (And How To Prevent Them)

Motorcycle Theft


Check out our Motorcycle Theft infographic to see the most stolen bikes by manufacturer and more!

In their 2015 Forecast Report “2015 Motorcycle Theft & Recovery,” the National Insurance Crime Bureau painted a picture of motorcycle theft that, while increasing only 6% nationally, is on the rise in many American cities. New York City experienced a 30% increase in crime over 2014. Los Angeles County led California, a state that led the nation in thefts, with over 7,000.

The report notes a few key data points that are interesting to note

  • Most thefts occur in the summer months.
  • Honda Motorcycles are most likely to be stolen
  • 25 counties accounted for 32% of motorcycle thefts, showing this crime moving to more urban, densely populated areas.

The report went on to detail 3 distinct types of motorcycle theft, leaving riders scrambling for ways to protect their bikes. KeyMe‘s vehicle experts have a few tips for riders to protect their bikes against everything from a garage break-in to lost motorcycle keys.

Ride Away Theft

Ride-away theft is one of the more common methods of stealing a motorcycle because it only takes one ambitious criminal.  They walk over to your bike, disable any locks and prevention tools, jump start the engine, and ride away.  Some thieves will work with a partner as a lookout, to avoid complications.  For the most part, however, well-trained individuals can remove security devices quickly enough that it doesn’t look much different than it would if you were doing it properly.

Because this method can draw so little attention, you’ll want to employ multiple preventative tools.  This can come down to a couple of smart choices, without the need to purchase anything:

  • Park in view of a security camera.  This won’t prevent all thefts, as ride away theft tends to look fairly normal (as previously noted).  A hat and sunglasses can disguise a face well enough to avoid identification on a security camera without looking suspicious to others on the street, so you only get so much safety out of this choice.  That said, not all thieves are smart ones and you still improve your odds—especially if the camera is readily visible.
  • Park in visible areas.  If you can park where you have a line of sight to your bike, that’s ideal.  If someone tries to steal it, you won’t have far to go in order to catch them.  That said, most parking options don’t offer such a convenience.  Nevertheless, parking in an area visible to many people helps as well.  While criminals may utilize exceptional discretion, if another person witnesses a theft in progress you might just gain the help of a fellow citizen and avoid losing your property.
  • Park behind an obstruction.  Whether it’s a car in a garage or posts on the street, thieves will struggle to steal a bike if it rests in an enclosed space or simply requires effort to access it.  This may be inconvenient for you, but it’s much more inconvenient for the thief.  Like everything else, this method’s added security is surmountable, but at worst it will slow down anyone trying to access your bike.  Every security measure adds a little more time to the clock and time matters greatly when committing a crime.  The more work stealing your motorcycle requires, the less likely a thief will bother trying to steal it.  Furthermore, if they do, you’ll have a greater chance of catching them in the act.
  • Utilize your motorcycle’s (hidden) kill switch to render the engine inoperable.  Most bikes include one, and nowadays many are hidden due to thieves learning how to deactivate them.  Of course, these same thieves can simply look up your bike’s hidden kill switch location so that only offers so much protection.  If you’re handy, however, you can install one of your own and make it very unlikely that anyone but you can find it.




Grab ‘n’ Go Theft

Grab ‘n’ go theft takes more than just one criminal to get the job done, and it expedites the process greatly making it one of the more dangerous methods to watch out for.  As a group effort, one person drives a van and at least one other loads the motorcycle in for a quick drive-off.  Certain locks will slow this process down, but very little has to be disabled in the moment in order to move your motorcycle from its parked location into the van.  As a result, you can only do so much to avoid this.

  • Heavy-duty cable lock. Much like with bicycles, you can use cable locks to attach your motorcycle to a post (or other accommodating stationary object).  Popular options, like the Trimax TDL815, won’t break the bank but can only provide so much protection.  Motivated thieves will have tools to cut through cable locks, so you should additional security measures as well.
  • Disc brake lock with alarm. Disc locks, such as the Trimax T665LY, attach to the front disc brake of your motorcycle to immobilize it.  Many come with reminder straps so you don’t try to ride off before removing them.  Bikers often combine disc locks with cable locks for added security.  With both lock types active, the bike can’t move and will remain tethered to its location.  Do beware: some lower-quality disc locks are susceptible to a Bic pen picking method.  You can prevent this with a repair clamp, but a little research can reveal whether or not you’ll need to make the effort.  (For example, answered questions about the Trimax T665LY indicate it will not open under the pressure of a plastic pen.)
  • Bike cover.  While a bike cover might not seem like a theft prevention device, it manages to succeed as one because it works as a deterrent.  Thieves will look for a motorcycle in plain view with locks they can disable.  A covered bike not only won’t register visually as fast as an uncovered bike will, but thieves won’t be able to see what other security measures you have in place.  When looking for a good target, a covered bike will rarely be the first choice.  If you grab a heavy duty disc lock with alarm, too, you can double up on the surprises to make stealing your bike an even riskier proposition.



Break-ins account for a fair number of motorcycle thefts as well.  Since those happen on private property, you’ll most likely open yourself up to more risk by assuming your bike is safe because it’s stored inside.  While motorcycle thieves won’t go after a bike they don’t know exists, it isn’t all that hard to figure out where you store yours.  Once they know where you park your bike, the thief only needs to surveil your location and wait until you’re gone to break in to remove your property.

What can you do about this?  Any garage and home security system can help, but don’t forget about all the aforementioned methods for parking in public areas as well.  Any deterrents that help in a public space can, at the very least, slow a thief down.  For example, if you also own a car, you have a built-in obstruction in your garage.  Park your bike behind it.  Don’t avoid using locks either.  The best way to set yourself up for a break-in theft is to assume you’re safe enough.

Lost Motorcycle Keys

Locking up all your belongings has a danger all its own: lost motorcycle keys. Between the disk lock key, the ignition key, the bike cover key and the garage key, your chances of losing access to your own bike improve exponentially. KeyMe customers have reported time and again that they have lost motorcycle keys or lock keys, especially if it’s been a while since they last took a ride.

Alleviate this by saving your keys to the cloud with the KeyMe key duplication kiosk. You will always know you have a backup that can be delivered to your door in 2-3 business days should your motorcycle key go missing. Keep your motorcycle safe and your keys organized and protected with KeyMe!

Want to know if your bike is supported? Our customer service team can help.

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