Last summer saw London’s finest commence an enormous crack-down on motorcycle theft and in particular, ringing! The Met’s Stolen Vehicle Unit has seen a massive increase in the number of bikes being given new identities then sold on to the unsuspecting public and amazingly, also bike dealerships! Almost in a laundering style, the dealerships end up taking a stolen bike as a part as a part-exchange, without any knowledge.
This leaves almost anyone in a very vulnerable position and gives neither the dealer not the buyer any come back if the bikes true identity is later discovered. Not only does the bike belong to someone else, which is financially devastating when the bike is taken away from the new owner, but they are riding a potential death trap! These bikes are usually constructed using parts from several different machines in a sort of “mix and match” manner.
Officers from the MET have successfully recovered 126 motorbikes since the launch of the campaign in 2008, resulting in numerous arrests. Top of their list has been professional rings, responsible for not just the initial theft but the entire process from beginning to end. Their findings have dispelled the far too common misconception that stolen sports bikes are most often used on track days. Previously it was thought that as the majority of sports bikes are no road-going, they do not require road tax or mot etc and as such, at no point will their identity or history need to be checked. With a stolen bike being a great deal cheaper to purchase, it made sense that this was the ultimate purpose.
Raids that have taken place all across London included an actual motorbike dealer. This dealer was actively selling stolen bikes that had been given new and clean identities, with corresponding frames and log books, making the bike look as genuine as any other to the unsuspecting buyer.
Armed with this new information the Met’s Stolen Vehicle Unit encourages anyone buying a motorbike to do some basic checks before hand. A straight forward credit check will often bring to light any history of a theft. It is also worthwhile going to a main dealer to take a look at what a genuine chassis number looks like, paying particular attention to the font style and size.
If you already own a bike, there are a number of steps you can take to prevent you, or someone else, becoming a victim of bike crime. A simple and cost effective way of reducing your chances by a whopping great 50% is to purchase Datatag. This is a simple yet effective way of covertly marking various parts of the bike via coded transponders and UV paint and markings.
When out and about, a portable chain like Datatool’s Python, is simple, effective and strong. Its also Thatcham approved, so may encourage a discount from your insurance company. Perhaps best of all is the installation of an alarm and immobiliser system. Again, a Thatcham approved system (Category 1) would be best and will usually incorporate a tilt and motion sensor, which will detect any movement of the bike whatsoever. This is vital when you consider that most bikes that are stolen and simply walked up a ramp into the back of a van!
The built-in immobiliser will prevent hot-wiring and the battery back-up siren cannot be stopped once started, even if its wires are cut. The Datatool S4 Red is currently the most popular and certainly one of the hardest to crack!