Title – THE GUIDE TO DIRT BIKE SECURITY….Subtitle – “When Hoodies Attack !!”
“Motocross bike stolen from garden shed” or “thieves broke into garage & made off with thousands of pounds worth of motorcycles”. A couple of statements you see all to often in the media today, it`s an age old problem & a problem that will never go away. The bottom line is motocross bikes are intended for off road use only, there is no legal requirement here in the UK for owners to register them with the DVLA or any other government department, the machines can be bought & sold freely, anyone of any age can have one. Until these basic facts change & an officer of the law can either knock on your door or wander up to you in the paddock at a race meeting & say “can I see your registration / owners document, I want to check that all your particulars are on the national computer data base & correct” things will never get any better. The only situation that might bring about a change in how the authorities view off road machines & want to keep a closer eye on the owners of them is some sort of annual dirt bike taxation or insurance system, but who wants that ! So my friends, the problem of how to keep hold of your precious dirt bike goes on, the thieves know that once obtained, they will have a very valuable & pretty much untraceable item.
I must say that the almost daily reports on “facebook” of dirt bikes going missing is getting ridiculous, news of stolen bikes is shared around very quickly indeed, although I seldom here news of bikes being recovered even when large rewards are offered. One useful purpose that these depressing reports do serve is to give an insight in to the lengths people will go to when it comes to stealing a dirt bike. Looking at all the photos of bent, smashed, ripped off doors & wall sections, you quickly come to the conclusion that thieves are not particularly concerned about making a lot of noise, even in the middle of the night ! Sometimes the damage can be quite wide spread, fences get broken down so a bike can be taken away via a neighbouring garden etc , one poor fella reported he had the bonnet of his car totally ruined when thieves dragged the bike across it because the vehicle blocked their exit. Don’t make the mistake of thinking your bike is safe when there are plenty of people around to keep an eye on it either, again on facebook I read about a rider who while out with friends for a spot of pre season practice had his bike stolen from the paddock area in full view of everybody, the thief just hopped on, kicked it up & rode away. I’m beginning to think that almost every dirt bike in the UK has been stolen at some point & wonder how many people now own a machine that was stolen years ago but since then has passed through the hands of many, completely innocent, owners. So what can you do to try & keep hold of your pride & joy ?
The Easy Way, Keep A Low Profile….. Bike thieves are busy people, they haven’t got the time & don`t want to take the risk of running around looking into every garage or garden shed, so the old saying of ” if they don`t know its there then they probably won`t come looking” seems to be a sensible one. The idea of having your Van, Trailer, Car or Caravan parked on your drive, all painted up in team Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha or Kawasaki motocross colours is a nice one but you might as well put a big sign out side your house telling the world you have a dirt bike stored on the premises, another couple of classic tell tale signs that give the game away are old worn out off road tyres that have just been left lying around your driveway or garden & what about all your lovely & expensive riding gear left drying on the washing line, at best it might be stolen off the line at worst it informs the local scallywags you own a dirt bike. You can never be too careful, over the years, how many of us have noticed just one, quite small, dirt bike related sticker on an otherwise plain & ordinary looking vehicle or seen a copy of TMX News on top the dashboard & instantly thought “eye eye”, that drivers into dirt bikes. Its a sad situation I know, we notice these little things because we are innocent off road enthusiasts but unfortunately thieves notice things like this as well. Transporting your bike around in an open trailer or pick-up is also a risky business, lots of riders have been followed home from a race meeting & then found that their bike has gone missing a few days later, so think twice, get a cover for your pick-up or trailer. Other activities such as constantly starting your bike up at home can give the game away, the sound of a high performance 2-stroke engine being revved up is very recognisable even several streets away, it won`t be long before the undesirables come poking about. Wheeling your bike out into the street or onto your drive to wash it off or take photos is a dangerous game, apart from the risk of it being spotted by the local young toe rags who seem to be responsible for as many bike thefts as so called professional gangs, you just don`t know who is living around you these days, if your neighbours are good people you still don`t know who they are innocently talking to about your motorcycling activities. You may think this is all being a bit paranoid but all I can say is don`t let your next facebook posting / message start with the words ” Lets see the power of social media, last night I had my garage broken into & thieves made off with my ……..”
Social Media….. The invention of the internet & things like “facebook” & “Twitter” have brought along even more problems, be very careful about posting up information about yourself & your location. Photos that include a lot of background information like the front / back of your house or your car & its registration number can help a thief pinpoint your location, that classic shot of your bike in the back garden on its paddock stand in front of the rickety old (complete with door wide open just to underline the fact ) shed that you store it in, is a definite No No ! Selling your bike on “ebay” is an absolute mine field, even if you don’t include any contact details on the add other than your mobile phone number, what contact information have you put on your other current or previous / ended listings ? Have you given your address to some one who got in touch wanting to “collect in person” the old Hoover or washing machine you also have for sale, did they ever turn up ? The message here is very clear, stop & THINK ! THINK ! THINK ! what information are you posting up that a thief could use.
Garden Sheds….. To be fair the humble garden shed was not designed for the purpose of protecting a £3000 dirt bike, it`s best described as a big wooden umbrella, something to keep the rain off. The thought of a lovely motocross bike housed in a flimsy wooden shed at the bottom of the garden, well away from the main house with a convenient alleyway at the back of the property, all ready for a nice quick getaway must seem like heaven to a thief, but this is all to often the case. The problem is you have no other choice but to chain your bike to something else that is loosely stored inside the shed, the wooden walls & wooden floor offer no secure anchorage points, time to get serious. Many years ago a rider told me that he had created a good solid ground anchor by getting hold of a big old & very heavy “RSJ” / steel girder, he got someone to burn or drill a couple of large diameter holes in it, in the middle well away from the edges, holes big enough to get a nice heavy duty chain through, he then positioned the girder under the shed, with one or two holes in the floor of the shed he was able to run lengths of good quality heavy duty chain through to provide a couple of decent ground anchors. Yes a determined thief will still be able to cut the chain inside the shed no matter how thick it is but it`s a start & better than chaining your bike to the lawnmower. As for the roof, walls & door of your shed the only way to go is to build or buy a heavy duty interior cage the same as pictured bellow, pricey, even if you make one yourself & time consuming but before you throw your hands in the air & say “Mr J this is all well over the top” just remember that horrible feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you realise somebody has broken into your car, house or shed & how long it takes to get over the experience. By the time you have wired in a decent alarm that’s connected to the house & gone to the trouble of running the cables under ground & not strung up like some old washing line that can be easily tampered with, your shed will be as secure as you can possibly make it.
The Domestic Garage….. Don`t kid yourself that your bike is safe inside a garage, even if the garage is attached to the main house. Those old up & over lightweight alloy garage doors with one single central lock are an absolute breeze to get past, fit heavy duty locks near the top & bottom both sides & also think about some sort of ground lock as well, a lot of lads are now fitting prison style bars & a smaller door behind the original flimsy outer one. Don`t forget to beef up security on any other doors that exit into the back garden or into the main house, many a bike has been taken away via the back garden or a neighbouring one or wheeled away through the house. If you have good solid concrete floors fit a couple of quality heavy duty ground anchors, make sure you damage the threads on the mounting bolts or put some weld on them so they can`t just be unbolted from the floor. If you plan on putting anchor points on the wall stop & think ! even if you make it impossible to unbolt the bracket, just remember how quick & easy it is to chisel out one or two house bricks from the average wall & breeze blocks offer even less resistance, they just crumble. Don`t forget the windows !! I can`t tell you how many times I have heard of bikes being lifted out through windows, fit heavy duty bars or grills. Make sure you wire in an alarm & if you can, get some sort of C.C.T.V. set up, it`s amazing the lengths riders will go to when & only when they have experienced the pain of loosing a bike.
Heavy Duty Locks & chains….. A while ago I watched a man on “Youtube” demonstrate how easy it was to cut thought some very expensive & super heavy duty motorcycle security chains, all were from well know companies & all cost about £100 to £150 each. His weapon of choice was a set of silent but very efficient 3 foot long bolt cutters, his method was simple, he placed a link of the chain in the mouth of the jaws, rested one handle on the floor, steadied it with his foot & then proceeded to jump up & down with all his weight on the other handle, after much sweating, reddening of the face & near cardiac arrest he did manage to cut through all of the chains in a very frightening time of no more than 5 minutes, some took less than 60 seconds. For a moment I thought this is bad news for any one with a dirt bike but then I started to think what if the bike had been positioned very close to a solid wall or something immoveable & the chain had been wrapped tight or positioned up off the floor around a part of the machine close to the wall & not conveniently lying loose on the floor & easy to get at. The moral of the story dear reader is stop & think before you chain up your pride & joy even if you are using a super though & very expensive chain, if you have to bend double or roll around on the floor to get at the lock & chain, so will a man armed with 3 foot long bolt cutters, if he can`t get a clear shot at the chain it might just make the difference !
Don`t Get Lazy, Remove Your Wheels….. It`s very disappointing to hear that once a thief got past a locked door he was able to just rider a machine away. Get into the habit of removing at least one wheel & keep it somewhere else along with the spindle, if it`s winter or if you will not be using your bike for a while remove other stuff as well. A twinshock missing it`s twinshocks & wheels must be very upsetting for the poor old burglar.
A Tracking Device…. This is something that has not been available to the poor dirt bike rider until fairly recently. Today you can visit a well know online auction site & for less than £50 purchase a small black box, inside this box sits a pay as you go mobile phone sim card a battery & some wiz bang technology that once connected up to you PC allows you to set up various functions on the device such as messaging your mobile if the bike moves outside of a certain area, tells you the speed that it is travelling at & via a link to google maps gives you the bikes location within a 10 metre radius. You can even ring up the device & listen to any voices or sounds in its immediate vicinity, just like you could with a mobile phone. This all sounds fantastic if the device does in fact do what they say, personally I don`t know, I have never tried one. The only draw back I can see is a battery life of only 36 hours & where can you secretly put one on a vintage dirt bike, inside the air box may be ? One very good use if they do work effectively is mounting one on your van, caravan or motorhome as they can be hard wired to a vehicle 12 volt battery. If you are interested you better get online & see what you can find out, I have seen other far more expensive versions on the market, which one is best I just don`t know.
Don’t Be Tempted…. To leave your bike or gear in the van overnight, very tempting if you need to make an early start the next morning or get back late at night from a race meeting but don`t risk it. Another scenario that seems to constantly pop up when talking to riders about bikes going missing is the amount that get stolen from hospital car parks, it`s always the same old story, a rider gets injured & taken to hospital in the ambulance, the rest of his crew follow on & while they are all inside seeing if the rider is ok some body empties the van, it`s amazing how often this seems to happen. So if you end up at the hospital watch out, leave someone to baby sit the van if you can !
Other Things To Remember……. Get into the habit of double checking your security measures, it`s not uncommon for thieves to have a snoop around a day or so before they strike, so check that any security lights or cameras have not been tampered with, have a look & see if any fence panels have been loosened off & check that locks & hinges on any gates are still secure. Make sure you keep a record of your bikes engine & frame numbers & keep an up to date photo of it, a few discreet out of the way security markings might also help identify your bike if it goes missing. Keep any windows in your garage or shed covered to stop prying eyes, even if they do have grills or bars on them, remember if you are working on your bike at night with the lights on, an uncovered window will be lit up like a high street shop, some body could be stood right outside looking in but all you can see is your own reflection when looking out into a unlit back garden.
Conclusion….. As you can see from all my ramblings above, it`s a lot easier to stay under the radar & not let the whole world know you ride a dirt bike. It`s also far more sensible to spend money on good effective security measures rather than waiting until your bike goes missing & then offering a big reward for it`s safe return, as I said near the beginning of this article very few bikes seem to get recovered & if by some miracle they do, most have been run into the ground & generally trashed by young lads on local waste ground. And finally don`t try & kid yourself that your self proclaimed image as the local hard man & threats that any midnight intruders will be on the receiving end of your “usually imaginary” base ball bat, will keep thieves away, chances are you will never hear them coming or know they were there until the morning after……Sweet dreams, Mr J