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How to Keep Your Harley® From Getting Stolen – Motorcycle Theft Prevention

If you own a bike, your worst fear is probably getting in a bad accident. Your second worst is having your Harley® stolen. If it hasn’t happened to you, chances are you know someone who has been a victim of motorcycle theft. 

The victim always says they didn’t see it coming. They never heard the thieves. They had no idea how quickly it could happen. Then their bike was gone without a trace and they lost a treasured, valuable possession. 


Why Thieves Steal Bikes

Because they’re a**holes. They don’t want to work hard to earn it like you did, they want to get it the easy way. Also, because motorcycle owners often don’t realize the threat, so they leave their bike vulnerable, and the temptation is just too irresistible to people who don’t have morals to begin with.

Bike theft pays. Sometimes they re-sell them to a third party that creates fake titles and sells the whole thing. More frequently they chop them up and sell the parts. 

Most Common Motorcycle Theft Methods

How do thieves steal motorcycles? Sometimes it’s as easy as throwing a leg over and riding away. The thief walks up to your bike, disables anti-theft devices and locks, jump starts the engine and hits the road with your bike. It just takes one person who can get dropped off or take a bus to get within walking distance.

They target bikes that are easy to steal so it takes seconds and attracts little attention. If anyone nearby notices, they just assume the bike belongs to the thief, so they don’t take note of any distinguishing features.

Another method of motorcycle theft is “grab and go.” It takes at least two perps, but again, it can happen in a heartbeat. The thieves drive up in a van, they jump out and throw your Harley® in the back, then they drive off with it. These guys are more likely to get caught, but good sense isn’t exactly a strong characteristic of bike thieves.

A break-in is a variation of the two. If you keep your bike in a garage or shed, thieves break in and ride off on it or load it in the aforementioned van. 

How Likely is a Harley® to be Stolen?

The National Insurance Crime Bureau keeps tabs on vehicle theft, and their data includes motorcycle theft by make and model. Consistently, Honda is the most frequently stolen brand, most likely because of the sheer number of them in the U.S. 

Thieves like to steal common bikes, because there’s a market for their parts. A basic black Honda sportbike is cheap transportation and has a lot of plastic parts that get dinged and cracked with daily use. There’s a market for replacement, and riders don’t ask a lot of questions when they’re getting a cheap new fender. Yamaha and Suzuki bikes are also likely to be stolen for the same reason.

Harley® is the fifth most likely motorcycle type to be stolen. Thieves love to ride off on a Harley, but they’re less likely to do so than other bikes for a couple of reasons:

  • Harley® has upgraded their anti-theft technology, so bikes are harder to steal and easier for the owner to track if they are stolen.
  • Harley® owners make their bikes into custom motorcycles. They’re more recognizable and unique, which makes them harder to re-sell as a complete vehicle, and the parts are desirable to a smaller, more discriminating niche.
  • If your bike has H-D Connect you can monitor and track it from your cell phone. If it’s even bumped, you get an alert. That drastically reduces the amount of time thieves have to cart or drive it off and chop it into re-sellable pieces.

Motorcycle Theft Statistics

NCIB released its most recent motorcycle theft statistics on August 28, 2019. Overall, motorcycle theft saw a six percent decrease from the previous year, but there were still a total of 41,674 bikes stolen in 2018 (compared to 44,268 in 2017). The bad news is, the majority of them were gone forever, with only 16,261 recovered in 2018. Here’s a breakdown of stolen motorcycles by type:

  • Honda – 8,260 thefts
  • Yamaha – 6,655 thefts
  • Suzuki – 4,882 thefts
  • Kawasaki – 4,861 thefts
  • Harley-Davidson® – 4,769 thefts.

So think about that for a minute. Almost 5,000 Harley® owners woke up one morning, went out to go for a ride and found an empty parking space. And some fool got a free Harley® out of being dishonest.

Texas and Motorcycle Theft

There’s more bad news for motorcycle owners. Texas is one of the top states for motorcycle theft for a number of reasons. First, we have more bike owners per capita, so there are more motorcycles to steal. Second, we have good riding weather for much of the year. Some states have had snow on the roads for more than a month already this year. We’re entering some of the best days for riding you’ll see in 2019.

Texas has the third-highest number of motorcycle thefts (3,073) in the United States, surpassed only by California (7,035) and Florida (4,279).

When you drill down further, motorcycle theft is most likely to happen in big cities with high population concentrations. Of the top 15 cities for bike theft, Houston and Austin ranked high on the list. Houston had 460 bikes reported stolen in 2018 while Austin residents reported 329. Interestingly, while the number of overall stolen motorcycles in the United States decreased, the number of bikes stolen in those Texas cities went up.

How to Keep Your Harley From Being Stolen – 10 Tips

RideApart interviewed a cop and a motorcycle thief and wrote an article on what they said. The thief said a gated parking garage in a good part of town is the number one place bike thieves go shopping. That’s because it’s a likely place to find well cared for expensive motorcycles and owners who think their bikes are safe. They’re not.

The best way to keep your bike from getting stolen is to refuse to be complacent. Stay vigilant. Realize it’s when you get lulled into a sense of security that you stop taking precautions. Anti-theft devices continue to evolve, but thieves do too. They’re mostly on the lookout for low hanging fruit. You can keep your bike safe with these tips.

  • Conceal it. Scouts wander neighborhoods and apartment complexes ahead of motorcycle theft to scope out how your bike is secured. They may look like they’re walking their dog or their kid, but they’re trying to see what you have and how hard it will be to steal. If you can block your bike from view behind a wall, inside a garage, behind the shed or in some other way, they can’t see obstacles to stealing it. They’re more likely to move on to easier targets.
  • Lock your ignition. Then remove the key and take it with you. Even if you park in what you assume is a safe place, don’t make it easy for the ba******.
  • Lock your forks. It’s harder to ride off with your Harley® when they can only go in a circle. This is such a simple step, but you’d be amazed how many riders don’t take the time.
  • Lock bikes together if you’re traveling with other riders.
  • Lock your Harley to something that doesn’t move, like a light post or a tree. Not a picket fence. Don’t place the lock near the ground, because that makes it easier for thieves to cut it or pry it loose.
  • Cover your bike. It sounds simple, but it helps because your bike is concealed (see bullet #1) and because it’s another step thieves have to take to get access. 
  • Don’t keep the title on your bike. If they do steal it, you don’t want to make it any easier for them to re-sell it.
  • Be careful if you trailer it! When you stop for coffee, park in a well-lit location and sit where you can keep an eye on it.
  • Use more than one method of securing your bike. Install an alarm and a kill switch. Then lock your forks and chain it to a tree. Then chain it to your buddy’s bike. Then cover it and put an alarm on the cover. 
  • Buy a bike with H-D Connect. This allows you to stay connected to your bike through your smartphone. You receive tamper alerts and stolen vehicle tracking. If something happens, you can share your bike’s location with the cops so they can get it back and bust the idiots who stole it from you.

What Harley Models are Compatible With H-D Connect?

The first year of H-D Connect is free when you buy the following 2020 equipped Harley models:

Anti-Theft Devices for Harley

AtnBlack Gold Harley-Davidson in Allen, we sell a range of security systems and anti-theft devices for your Harley. Stop by and talk with one of our associates and we’ll help you choose the security system or security device that works best with your bike and increase your chances of never having bike theft happen to you. Get in touch to find out more.