Perhaps its just me, but lately I have been seeing a growing number of reports related to motorcycle theft and worse, hijackings that are taking place around the country.
While I believe there is a special place in hell for people that steal motorcycles, theft of bikes is more prevalent than many of us think and perhaps its time to take a stand as a community against this growing scourge in our midst. Obviously, there are thefts that take place through opportunity - where someone leaves his keys in the bike by mistake (it has happened to me - don't laugh) or simply not locked the bike properly and a thief has seen the opportunity. Then there is what is generally considered theft -on-demand, where thieves target specific brands or bike types 'on order' for a buyer or syndicate.
On-demand thieves go to great lengths to get to parked motorcycles, sometimes even carrying bikes over parked cars to get them out of a property. Of late, bikes parked under carports and in yards in South Africa are a great source of product for thieves, and even palisade fences, dogs and alarm systems help little. Locking your bike in a garage seems the logical solution, but many bikers don't have garages or secure areas and they have become easy targets. I know of a case where a bike was stolen from a locked and chained 'cage' in the middle of the night and carried out of a security complex by thieves. And this is just one example, and even the fact that bikes are micro-dotted and have tracker systems doesn't stop the rot. Thieves simply disengage these or they strip the bikes for parts and dump the remains in the open veld. In the UK, motorcycle theft from yards is common and just trawling the web shows the trend towards high-end motorcycle theft has become a global business.
But perhaps what is more disturbing, is the recent increase in motorcycle hijacking where armed thieves confront motorcyclists on their bikes and simply demand they hand them over - or face the consequences. The bikes are targeted and clearly, thieves have no hesitation killing to get their daily haul for faceless bosses that sell them on to neighbouring countries. I recently heard about a motorcyclist that had been hijacked some time back, who then went to Mozambique on holiday, only to see 'his' bike - number-plate and all, being ridden in Maputo! Bikers on the East Rand are currently being targeted by a syndicate that includes a team on a motorcycle that jump riders at stop streets and their gates for their bikes - brandishing weapons and screaming, and a black Golf with four occupants that does likewise. Clearly, the Police are unable to deal with the problem, but biker communities are becoming organised and it is only a matter of time before these thieves get a dose of the 1% justice that awaits them.
Technology does help in some cases - for example the one where a hijacker 'liberated' a Harley from a rider at gunpoint, and then rode off into the 'sunset' - or what they thought would be a sunset. This particular thief obviously didn't read the manual for the bike, and only found out that it had a remote key system that switched the bike off as it got outside the range of the pocket fob. He hastily abandoned his task and hot-footed it away, leaving the biker with his bike and a huge grin. Had the biker been armed, the story would have ended differently and there would be one less bike thief on the road today.
Bike theft happens across the country - rural and urban areas alike, and it is up to each of us to become more aware of how we store and ride our bikes to reduce the opportunities for thieves. We need to ensure that our bikes are safely stored and that they are locked, branded and alarmed to make it more difficult for thieves. They will probably get through each of these levels of security if they really want the bike, but making it harder for them reduces the desire they have for the bike. And when you ride, be aware of unusual behavior around you.
Watch what is happening around you at traffic lights and stop streets, and notice what is happening behind you when you drive into your yard. The same tactics used in car-jacking are being applied to bikers, and a high awareness of your surroundings helps reduce the potential for theft.
Bikes are being stolen and 'jacked' for resale, stripping or scrap - and there are possibly many being stolen for insurance fraud, but if you are buying a second-hand bike, remember that unless it is from a recognised dealer, your 'new' bike could have cost someone their life..!