How easy is it to steal a motorcycle?

With bike thefts in the uk soaring, here's how they do it and what the police are saying

3y ago

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There is currently a motorcycle and moped theft epidemic in the UK, specifically in London. Bike theft numbers in the capital have almost doubled in the past four years. 14,971 motorcycles or mopeds were stolen in 2016 alone. See the following link for the Met Police's full statistics from 2013 to 2017: bit.ly/2opwSmY

Method

There are five things a bike thief needs to pull off their crime. (Click pictures and open captions)

'Another guy had a disc lock thrown at his head'

A friend of mine wasn’t taking any chances and put three chain locks, two disk locks, an alarm, immobiliser, tracker and cover on his.

“It was 9.30 at night so we were up and saw the whole thing happening. The noise was terrifying and the scene on the street chaos. There were six hooded men running around and three bikes. Two of them had angle grinders and two with crowbars. They were laughing, whooping and very pumped up. It took them 4-5 minutes to get through all the locks so people were coming out on the street to see what was going on and getting chased back inside. One guy got chased down the street by one of the men with crowbars and another had a disk lock thrown at his head. The whole thing was very violent and terrifying. I won't park a bike outside my house again – I just can't risk bringing that kind of violence to my home – it's just not fair on my family or my neighbors.”

The thieves had scooted past the patrol car and kicked off their wing mirror.

The following account comes from another friend after having his second bike stolen in 2017.

'A The policeman who came to my house was very apologetic and admitted that the last time they had been called out for a stolen bike in Hammersmith, the thieves had scooted past the patrol car and kicked off their wing mirror. The depressing conclusion which he admitted to me was "This is simply not a time to own a nice bike in London".'

See below as a gang film themselves stealing a Ducati.

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Without disc locks or chains it becomes laughably easy to steal a bike. Watch as a Yamaha R1 is stolen in just 10 seconds.

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So why don't the cops just chase them and arrest them?

Police pursuit policy is based upon weighing up risk to the safety of all road users before deciding whether or not it would be appropriate to begin a pursuit. This means that if a biker is not wearing a helmet they will not be pursued. However after doing some digging on police forums I have found that even if a biker is wearing a helmet it is very unlikely police will give chase. Mostly for fear of a lawsuit agianst them personally.

When I discovered this I was outraged. It frustrated me that there was such a gaping loophole in our legal system that would allow criminals a free pass at escaping arrest. However, after doing some more digging I came upon the following blog post from a former police officer which shed some light on their disinclination to take up pu​rsuit.

'A rider is already vulnerable to injury just by virtue of being on a motorcycle (I know, my wife was nearly killed on one about 24 years ago) so throw in a pursuing car, panic, adrenaline, lack of rider training and a willingness to break traffic rules to get away and it is a recipe for disaster - one or more dead or seriously injured riders and that awful question later on at the inquest.'

"Officer, when you decided to chase after the young boy on the motorcycle, did you consider any of these factors and what did you do to reduce or remove the risk before he was killed when he rode straight into that fence with you right behind him?". 'Could you face their family afterwards?'

I have mixed feelings on this. I understand the point of view of the officer however as I have said before I cannot abide lawless behavior that affects thousands of people simply being unavoidable.

The fight back

Instances of public intervention are on the rise, see video below of two have a go heroes thwarting two nunchuck wielding thieves.

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Just last week film star Tom Hardy chased down a moped thief after they crashed into a car at a set of traffic lights. See the full story here: Http://bit.ly/2q9f4g6

Below: Brazen thieves botched attempt at nicking a Ducati Panigale in broad daylight on Soho Square, central London​.

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Luckily in all of these cases no one was hurt. However there are plenty of accounts online of thieves threatening onlookers with deadly weapons. It is only a matter of time before a circumstance like these ends in a fatal attack.

What can we do?

There is definitely a strong case that manufacturers should take some responsibility for the ease of stealing bikes however without a doubt, the most frustrating part of the whole business is the helplessness of police. It is not acceptable in a modern society for the police party line to be: 'If you don't want to be robbed, don't own nice things.'

Let us know your experience with bike crime in the comments also if you think you have a solution.

Photo credit: Met Police/PA Archive

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Comments (89)

  • I think we should all be allowed to carry tazers - that would make them think twice. Seriously I also think the manufacturers should do more ... gearbox locks, built in trackers etc. And maybe the insurance companies should reward the police when they do apprehend one of the little s**ts. Its all about motivation ... if they are motivated to steal them for money I think we should motivate the police to stop them.

      3 years ago
    • Amazing suggestions. Honestly, after experience with the atmosphere in my country I expected lot of racist and xenophobic comments but I checked anyway If anyone has other stories or GREAT suggestions like this! Thank you!

        3 years ago
  • My solution is simple if mildly barbaric, amend the law to state "Anyone involved in crimes against persons or property is assumed to have temporarily waived their personal legal rights and assumes total liability, both criminal and financial, for any harm that comes to themselves or others as a result"

      3 years ago
  • As an Expat now living in the US i understand both sides of the gun debate but i assure you that the reason these scum bags are so brazen, is they know they aren't putting their lives at risk taking these bikes. Over here, I rarely lock my bike up when I'm out, but if I saw someone cutting a lock off of my bike or anyone elses for that matter they would have my 1911 pointed in their direction faster than they knew what was happening. Threaten me with an angle grinder, well looks like I'm now in fear for my life and will respond appropriately.

    In London the only way this will end is the police making it a priority and cracking down, charging them with the organized crime that this is and locking them away for a long time. This isn't some punk taking a bike for a joyride, its gangs targetting high end bikes and making some serious cash

      3 years ago
  • I'd have no trouble fsacing their family, they made a choice usually several of them if it all goes wrong and they end up dead or injuredthat was their choice

      3 years ago
  • The crux isn't that they are stealing bikes, its that they have the tools to do so. Since the invention of the portable angle grinder, bikes have become easy enough to steal, these subhumans are able to do it. The only answer I can think that might just work is to put your locks and chains in some woollen packs coated in hi temp grease. Enough grease will stop the cutting discs working, and the wool will get caught up in the drive as a secondary problem.

    It won't stop bikes being stolen, but it might stop them stealing my bike!

      3 years ago
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