Unfortunately, motorcycle jacking in the UK is on the up. According to the Office for National Statistics for England and Wales, in the year leading to March 2017, there has been a 10% increase in all vehicle theft compared to 2016. Motor theft reached 91,433, which is an increase of more than 15,000 compared to the previous year and is, in fact, the highest levels since 2011.
Figures on motorcycle theft in London show things are getting worse. From July 2016 to July 2017 there were 14,943 thefts of ‘powered two-wheel vehicles’, which actually makes up 50% of all vehicle thefts in London.
So how are these thieves actually stealing the bikes, what are their tactics? We Buy Any Bike believe being aware of their strategies gives you an advantage that most criminals won’t expect you to have.
There are two moves which are used again and again by thieves, so reading this will give you some insight.
This is a really sneaky move thief have been putting into action. Basically, they place something in the middle of the road and hide when someone gets off their bike to move the obstacle there is someone literally waiting in the wings! They make sure they are fairly close by so can hop on and (if you have left the keys in) ride off. The same principle is being used on car drivers.
It’s hard to know what to do in this situation, or how you’ll react if it actually happens to you. The main thing to remember is if you are leaving your bike for even a second, the steering lock is put on, keys come out the ignition and into your pocket. These are all little things that buy you time, even just seeing you do these things systematically might be enough to put them off attempting the robbery.
Another tactic used by thieves is the two up manoeuvre. This has been in the media quite a bit recently; thieves have been riding two up on scooters, one of the team will jump off and try to obtain nearby bikes. There are a few different ways they are executing this move, here are two examples:
- Targeting parked bikes that present an easy opportunity, such as no chain in a quiet area.
- Targeting ridden bikes; Pulling up beside you at traffic lights, physically pushing you off your motorbike and simply riding off while you’re on the floor.. wondering what just happened.
It’s a good idea to keep an eye out when you see people two up on scooters, or motorbikes. Watch them make sure you’re not being followed, half of the battle is being aware and looking for warnings signs. We obviously don’t want to suggest you suspect every single rider with a pillion, but at the moment, especially in London, this is a popular method being used. We have taken this example from YouTube, so you can see exactly how this tactic is used. Luckily, a member of the public stepped in:
So this is what you look for in terms of suspicious behaviour, but now what?
What can I do?
People have very different ideas of what you should do when getting robbed, some think you should give the thief what they want and not cause conflict, some want to fight back. Either way, the most important thing is keeping safe.
It’s hard to know how you’ll react when someone is trying to steal from you. If you feel the thief is aggressive and threatening, it is not worth backing them into a corner, you have no idea what their state of mind is or if they have a weapon. So physically fighting a thief is not advised, but there are things you can do to make sure they don’t have an easy ride.
Sometimes just showing you are aware of what they are trying to do is enough to make the thieves back off, you need to make sure you are a hard target. Thinking this way is beneficial for both a parked bike and a ridden one.
Firstly, a parked bike:
- Park in a busy area
- Always leave steering lock on
- Clearly chain your bike to an obstacle
- Have a hidden kill switch
- Fit a LOUD alarm, that can be clearly seen
These seem like obvious things to do, but 90% of the bikes being stolen didn’t do them. A report by the Office for National Statistics said:
“Often the mopeds used to facilitate snatch thefts and robberies are also stolen; these vehicles typically do not have immobilisers and vehicles are targeted that have little to no strong security products.”
Secondly, a ridden bike:
When you are confronted with someone telling you to get off your bike..a millions things must go through your mind. What do I do? Is this even real? Will anyone help me?!..
You need to drill into your mind: Side stand down, steering lock on. Keys out the bike and into your pocket.
Side stand down because you don’t want to get pushed over with your bike on top of you. You’re unstable and at a disadvantage when you are trying to keep your bike up.
The steering lock adds to the things the thieves need to overcome, buying your bike sometime.
Putting the keys in your pocket isn’t a direct act of aggression, it just shows resistance. You could even start walking backwards to show you don’t want to fight. You just don’t want to make it easy.
Obviously, if the thieves then begin to advance on you and there is no one else around that may help. You just need to hand the keys over. If it’s between them taking your bike or you get beaten up or worse. It’s not even a question. All you are trying to do with these actions is create delays and obstacles for them to overcome. The more hard work and effort the robbery is, the more likely they are to walk away.
How can I protect myself?
So is there any way to protect yourself, if the thieves just want to fight? Well, you aren’t able to carry a weapon, legally, this includes pepper spray. However, there is something you can buy which might help distract and deter an attacker.
The Safehaus Mini Self Defence Spray Criminal Identifier; it’s a small defence spray you might find ideal to carry in your pocket. It sprays bright red gel up 4 metres. The dimensions are 85 x 34mm, it doesn’t contain any harmful chemicals and is indeed completely legal in the UK. The gel even stays on the attacker for up to 7 days!
The spray is a great idea, but again if you feel the attacker is violent. You just need to get out of there. I’m sure spraying them with this will be the last thing on your mind. You’ll have to judge the situation yourself.
Something else to remember is, always keep your valuables on your person. If the thieves do manage to get away with your bike. Don’t give them the extra satisfaction of opening the back box to your wallet.
As the UK’s leading bike trader, we hope this article was useful and if you have anything to add, please do so in the comments!