Motorcycle theft is a serious issue for any rider. Over 45,000 bikes are stolen in the United States every year. That’s more than one every 12 minutes! Even worse, most bikes are never recovered since they are pieced out and sold for parts (or rebuilt onto a legitimate frame).

If you own a motorcycle, it’s important to protect your investment. That means it’s time for you to take anti-theft measures if you haven’t already. And if you have, you might want to reevaluate them and potentially add to them.

Prevent Motorcycle Theft: Police Car Lights

7 Motorcycle Anti-Theft Tips (Along with a Few Helpful Devices)

There are essentially two types of motorcycle thieves:

  • Those who see an opportunity to steal a bike on the spot – and then do
  • Those who target specific bikes or owners in advance and approach the theft strategically

These two types of thieves have different mindsets and tactics when it comes to motorcycle thievery, but fortunately there are several things you can do to deter both of them.

The NICB (National Insurance Crime Bureau) recommends having a “layered approach” to prevent theft. The more layers you have, the less likely your bike will be stolen. Here are a few tips (or layers) to keep your bike as safe as possible.

1. Customize Your Bike

Customizing your bike is fun. It gives your ride a unique look, and a lot of modifications can also improve the bike’s performance or your comfort level. You might think that a highly customized motorcycle would have a higher value and therefore be worth more to would-be thieves. But a customized bike is one that thieves – particularly professional criminals – simply don’t want to bother with. Why? Because a customized bike is an easily identifiable bike. That is one thing that thieves do not want.

Prevent Motorcycle Theft: A Harley-Davidson® Customized with a Beautiful Paint Job

Of course, that doesn’t mean that your bike can’t be targeted. And if your bike is stolen, its customization does you no good if you can’t effectively report it to the police. So make sure you have plenty of pictures highlighting the changes you’ve made to your machine.

Not only are photos helpful to police, but in today’s high-tech world of social media, sticking a photo of your bike on Facebook or Twitter doesn’t hurt. And you might just be lucky enough to recover your bike that way.

If your bike is ever stolen, you’ll also want to make sure that you can provide these details along with your photos:

  • License plate number
  • VIN
  • Make, model and year

2. Think about Visibility When Parking

Always take parking very seriously. If you are in public, keep your motorcycle in sight – and in a well-lit place. If possible, park in a location where you will be able to keep an eye on it. If it isn’t, the next best spot is where a security camera has your bike in view. But even as a general rule of thumb, keeping your bike in plain view of other people (and lots of them) is often enough to deter criminals.

When you are at home, try to do just the opposite; keep it completely out of sight. If you can, place it in a locked garage. At the very minimum, keep a cover on it. (This will help keep it in better condition as well.) A cover will obstruct a number of important details that a thief might be looking for, such as the type of bike it is.

Prevent Motorcycle Theft: Tusk Motorcycle Cover

3. Keep Your Keys Away from Your Bike

If you aren’t on your bike, your keys shouldn’t be either. In some cases, you might think this is just common sense – and you’d be right. But it’s easy to think that nothing can happen in 30 seconds as you just hop off your bike for a moment, and suddenly your bike could be gone. If you get off your bike, take your keys with you. Never leave them in the ignition or with your bike in general.

This rule also extends to home. If your bike is in the garage, don’t keep your keys on a peg next to it. Place them inside your house or somewhere that isn’t obvious.

4. Consider Installing Hidden Kill Switches

A kill switchPrevent Motorcycle Theft: Tusk Universal On/Off Switch makes it impossible to start your bike, even if the criminal has the keys. It also makes it impossible to hotwire your motorcycle. Of course, if the criminal knows to flip the kill switch, then it does no good. But if you install a hidden kill switch, you add an extra layer of protection.

5. Use an Anti-Theft Lock with an Alarm

A motorcycle lock will make it more difficult to steal your bike. An alarm will scare away a thief if they attempt it. Some devices have both of these functions, but this isn’t necessary.

If you want to take it even one step further, find a lock that is obvious. That will allow it to act not only as a prevention device, but as a deterrent device as well. Thieves are less likely to attempt to steal a motorcycle if they think the job is going to be harder or more risky.

Most motorcycles include a steering lock (fork lock). When activated, this makes it impossible to steer the bike. No one can simply wheel it away. However, steering locks can be broken with the right technique, so a steering lock by itself may not be enough.

If Prevent Motorcycle Theft: Xena Security XX-6 Series Disc Lock Alarmyou use a lock and chain (or cable), make sure that both are strong enough. With the right tools, practically any lock or chain can be broken. But the stronger they are, the less likely a thief will have the necessary tools to do the job. Place the chain through the frame of the bike if you can, and anchor it to an object that would be difficult to move – like a lamppost.

A disc lock is an excellent choice. It is a small lock that fits on the brake rotor, effectively preventing the wheel from turning. There is no chain to break. And with devices such as the Xena disc lock, it doubles as an alarm, so if a thief tries to brake the lock, the alarm will sound off.

6. Securely Transport Your Bike

If you own a dirt bike or a show bike, you’ll likely spend some time transporting it. Unless you’re with your bike at every moment that it is strapped in, make sure that it is secure and safe. There are several great options to help with this, from locking chocks to reinforced cable.

Prevent Motorcycle Theft: Lockstraps Carabiner Locking Buckle Tie Downs w/Soft Loops Prevent Motorcycle Theft: Rider Cargo 30 Foot Security Cable Prevent Motorcycle Theft: Moose Racing Motorcycle Lock Chock Prevent Motorcycle Theft: Risk Racing Lock-N-Load Moto Transport System

7. Utilize a GPS Tracking Device

A GPS tracking device is going to do little in the way of preventing your motorcycle from theft. However, it’s one of the best things you can have implemented in order to recover it if it is stolen.

This is how it works: First, you need to securely hide the device somewhere on your bike. It then transmits the location to a service which you can track online. If your bike ends up missing, you can quickly determine where it is. This information is indispensable to help police.

GPS tracking devices that are designed for recovering motorcycles after a theft typically have an initial cost for the device along with annual (or monthly) fees to pay for the service, though this can vary.

Prevent Motorcycle Theft: Two Harley-Davidson® Motorcycles on an Old Road


Nobody likes to think about the unpleasant idea of having their motorcycle stolen. But it’s much better to plan ahead with effective anti-theft measures rather than hope things work out after it’s too late.

Do you have any anti-theft tips that we missed out on? Let us know in the comments! And don’t forget that you can get most of the products and devices mentioned in this article at Rocky Mountain ATV/MC.