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How and Why the Pros Steal Your Motorcycle A Thief Tells You His Secrets

If you’ve ever had something of yours stolen, you know the feeling.

You get pissed, you feel vulnerable and violated, you want quick, hot, brutal revenge of the kind only a pair of pliers and a ball peen hammer can provide. You want to “get medieval” on whoever laid their filthy paws on your stuff.

The problem is, statistically at least, you’re never going to get that kind of satisfaction. There’s no comforting payback; no justice. Your bike is just gone, and the odds are that you’ll never see it again in one piece.

So why does a thief target a motorcycle?

Simple, they’re generally easy to take and they offer the advantage of being among the most portable high-dollar targets a thief can find. It’s hard to move a television or a piece of antique furniture, but your sport bike was made to move – and it was made to move fast. That makes it a clear target of opportunity, and those are the kinds of items thieves like above all others.

If you’ve ever wondered what happens once a motorcycle is stolen, you came to the right place. I spent a few minutes last night reading this thread, ostensibly written by a “former” motorcycle thief, and it was an eye-opener. The author, whether or not he’s the real deal, makes some excellent observations and reveals some of the plumbing behind how motorcycle theft rings work, and it’s worth a read for that information alone.

So here it is, an inside look at the seamy world of stealing motorcycles, and it comes straight from the horse’s mouth:

It varies depending on yr/make/model/condition. About 10-12 years ago there was an out of state buyer we used to crate bikes to that had the ability to create titles for them who paid $3500 for near new 1000cc supersports. 1,000-1,500 is more typical for super sports. Harleys vary quite a bit depending on model and options, from 1,000 for a basic late model sportster to several thousand for a highly optioned fat boy, road king etc.

Yeah, once, we were doubled up on a bike getting a bike in front of a guys house on his lunch break in broad day light, took a little longer than expected, he came out, we ran back to the other bike hopped on and took off. He didn’t even chase us on his bike, I was surprised. He looked more shocked than anything. This was 10 or 11 years ago and I still remember the look on his face.

I’ve had passers by walk right past, it happened on the very first bike I stole, some lady walked her dogs right passed us. There were two of us in riding gear, two bikes, she didn’t even look twice. We kept working and rode off. This didn’t happen to me, but the guy that got me into all this. He’s getting some bike from an apartment complex in the middle of the day and can’t break the steering. He notices some guy watching him, walks right up to him and says “Hey man, can you give me a hand, the handlebars on my bike are stuck and I’m about to be late for work.” – The guy goes back to the bike and helps him break the steering lock. That guy has some CRAZY stories, he was stone cold and willing to go way way too far. Probably why he’s dead now.

Use? the bikes themselves. Even the slowest bike is faster and more nimble than most cars.

There is this common misconception that a few guys load bikes into trucks and vans. The people who get CAUGHT load bikes into trucks and vans. Your career will be very short if you’re loading a 185mph rocket (that likely has a tracking system) that will outrun the police into the back of an 85mph van that will take you to the scene of your arrest. If you can’t start the bike and ride off then you damn sure can’t find and remove lojack.

In 10-15 years I’ve known a couple dozen thieves and only one that was foolish enough to load bikes into a truck or van for any length of time. He learned to wire them after he was caught, twice, lol.

When I was stealing them it was a part time deal. I had a full time job and just did it here or there. Eventually decided to save all the theft money and came up with 25k and started buying hot bikes. I spent a lot of money to appear legitimate down the road. My goal was to have a legit bike shop, but running a legitimate business was a hell of a lot harder than I thought and took a lot more capital than I had. I only made about 80k/yr after all the overhead. Even now when 80k seems like a tremendous amount of money it still isn’t worth the risk I took.

Which Bikes Are the Most Likely Targets For Thieves

Mostly supersports. They are the most commonly crashed and generally the easiest to find (left outside in nice apartment complexes) Next would be Harleys and for a brief moment in time the high dollar choppers.

Never, ever, never never never, NEVER leave your bike outside at an apartment complex. Especially one with a gated parking garage. The gated parking garage in a mid to high rise apartment building in the nice part of a large city is the number one place for bike thieves to go “shopping.” As far as passive devices go I like the NYC fughetaboutit chain/lock from Kryptonite, the thicker of the two. It needs to go through something like a braced swingarm whenever possible. If you absolutely have to put it through a wheel put it through the rear wheel. It takes much longer to swap than the front wheel. Any $100 disc lock will work well, again, rear wheel, locks on the front are more easily defeated, take my word for it. Cheaper disc locks can be quietly, well, we’ll leave it at that, cheap ones can be defeated in silence. Lo-jack and Lo-Jack w/early warning are pretty good at recovering the bikes from amateurs and semi-pros, but someone who knows what they are doing will remove the lojack system quickly after clearing the area. Still someone even more professional (surprisingly rare) will have somewhere to check/store/breakdown the bike that is rf shielded. The problem with lo-jack is that it doesn’t keep someone from stealing the bike. Even if you get it back in one piece without the police crashing into your bike to catch the thief you’ll still likely have a broken upper triple, damage to the neck of your frame (Steering lock), damage to your ignition, damage to the tank lock, possible damage to the tank itself (rareish) possible damage to the trunk lock , and then your insurance company might fuck you too. It’s much better to not get the bike stolen in the first place. So in addition to lo-jack you want some sort of VISIBLE passive devices to make the thief move on. The paging alarms are somewhat effective, but they aren’t linked to the police. Removing electronic devices is obviously more of a mental challenge than a physical one. The quality of the install is a huge factor here. Hide the lo-jack or alarm in or under the airbox and all the wiring within the factory looms and you’ll have a good set up. However, almost NO dealer tech is this thorough. It’s not his bike, why would he go the extra mile?

Locks and chains. Very few thieves are this thorough, of the dozens of them I knew over the years I only came across one like this, but I knew someone that had a pair of bolt-cutters that weighed a lot, more than a 45lb plate at the gym, and had replaceable cryogenically hardened teeth. They cost several hundred dollars. The high dollar chain lock sets $150+ are worth it. Even the high dollar braided cable locks are good. They can be cut, but it’s a pretty time consuming process.

Personally, if it’s rashed up, looks cosmetically rough, but mechanically sound. Say grips are worn, been dropped on both sides, but the chain is clean and well-adjusted, tires worn hard on the edges, has any signs of safety-wiring for the track etc. It’s lack of value isn’t what I’m looking it. It would remind me of myself once upon a time. I think that’s probably all he’s got, his whole world, it’s not pretty, but he rides the piss out of it. He gets a pass.

More for most people, just what takes time. I’ve known very very few stone cold guys that can sit there for an hour working on a bike. Most people will give it a few seconds, maybe a couple minutes, and if they can’t get it they are gone. What is only seconds feels like an eternity when your freedom and life are on the line. Quality disc lock on the rear wheel, quality chain and lock, lockable bike cover and theft coverage on your insurance. For me, lo-jack isn’t worth the cost. It’s more expensive than theft coverage and after a thief has had his way with the bike I don’t want it back. All can fit in a back pack and aren’t much of a hassle to carry. Never leave it outside very long day or night. If you have to ground anchors are good. I always wondered what was available in a marine application for something like this. Something with a real burly chain/lock.

If you’re temporarily parked outside somewhere a good little FREE anti-theft trick, bring a stubby flathead with you and remove your clutch lever. No clutch lever and they aren’t riding anywhere. Of course if you do this every night outside your apartment they’ll just come back with their own clutch lever.

Also – LOCK YOUR FU***** STEERING – DON’T LEAVE YOUR SPARE KEY IN YOUR TRUNK. I can open your trunk with a butter knife, don’t leave me your fu***** key in there, jesus. Happens more often than you think. Also, don’t leave your TITLE in the trunk, i’ve seen this too often too. Steering locks aren’t that hard to bypass, but they aren’t THAT easy either. Sometimes you get the freak one that doesn’t want to break and you’ll need to come back with a second person. In that time maybe the owner sees the bike and the thief doesn’t get it. Had it been unlocked the bike would be gone.

Again, if you park outside of an apartment and your bike gets stolen, rent a fucking garage or self-storage unit near by to use as a garage. The thief is just going to wait a couple weeks for insurance to replace your bike and come back to check. If someone tries and fails to get your bike the same thing applies. Move it, they WILL be back.

The majority of thieves aren’t that smart and half of those are on drugs, please don’t be dumber than they are.

How It Works From the ‘Fence’ Side of the Fence

Well, for me, it was dumb luck. You had to know someone on the inside and the only real buyers were established salvage yards or dealerships that sold used bikes. When I started America was still using AOL dial-up to connect to the internet.

I was very cautious who I bought from. I was more interested in dealing with the most professional thieves I could find or trying to turn decent ones into professionals. I knew others that weren’t as concerned and bought just about anything from anyone.

Depending on a few factors I generally paid between 1k-1500/bike. From there you can do two things, buy a wrecked bike at auction and use the hot bike as a parts donor, part the rest. Or you can part the bike out from the beginning. This can be done through some B2B channels, through a storefront, or through ebay. Excluding any business overhead, solely based on what you paid for the bike, there is at least a 200-300% mark up. More if you’re willing to sell the motor-kit, but I never did. I parted the motors out too. There was plenty of profit already and motors are traceable. No sense in being overly greedy. I mostly did supersports, but I was open to just about anything, there is a market for it all.

Why Do Bikes Get Targeted and What Happens To Yours When It’s Gone

At first I needed to know there was a buyer for it – call a few guys, if so, it’s on. There were requests for certain bikes/colors etc. At first it was stalking and sitting on them, later it was basically jumping on them.

Once I became the buyer I would buy just about anything from someone I trusted and I also placed orders for things I needed to fix wrecked bikes I had bought to repair and resell.

When I first started I didn’t know shit about electronics and if I cut a siren and the bike wouldn’t start after a couple seconds doing what I knew should start the bike I would walk. I knew other guys who would roll bikes off somewhere safer and work on them for an hour or more. I was NOT that guy. Depends on the location too. I wasn’t very brazen or open to risk. I knew guys that had the confidence in their abilities to grab one in front of large windows in front of busy offices or businesses in broad day light. Personally I didn’t like spending a lot of time at a bike and most guys don’t, but there is that oddball guy with nerves of steel that doesn’t care. Multiple quality devices will stop most thieves or at least get them to go to an easier target. I used to pay $100 for tips on locations and there were always multiple bikes available.

When I first started used dealers and salvage yards. Once I got going as the buyer I would buy wrecked bikes to repair and resell, bare frames to swap onto hot bikes, then resell. I parted bikes through a B2B service, out of a storefront, then ebay as a last resort.

If you want to read the entire thread, and I highly recommend it, you can find it here on Reddit…