How to Prevent Motorcycle Theft

Follow these 6 tips to secure your bike at home and on the road.

A motorcycle rider changes lanes on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
Keep your bike safe and secure.
Jesse Morrow / Stocksy

Riding a motorcycle isn’t just a transportation choice. It can be a lifestyle and offer adventure and a sense of freedom riding on the open road. But motorcycles don’t have the same protections as automobiles, namely locked doors to separate the mode of transportation and potential intruders and thieves. 

Motorcycle theft is on the rise in the United States. The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) reports that motorcycle thefts are up 26 percent since 2019, and thefts have become more common in the West as well. The Department of California Highway Patrol reported 9,244 motorcycle thefts in 2020, a 25 percent increase from 2019’s 7,370 thefts.

Take these steps to help lessen the odds of your motorcycle being stolen. 

1. Park in a secure garage.

It may seem obvious, but a garage can put a buffer between your bike and the outside world. When out, look for attended parking garages. At home, assess the security of your garage and take steps to deter thieves, such as installing stronger locks and preventing the emergency release from easily being disengaged. When possible, the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) suggests also parking your bike so it’s blocked by cars.

2. Keep the title at home.

Your motorcycle title should not be placed in your bike bag or anywhere else on the vehicle. A title confirms your ownership, and if your motorcycle gets stolen, you don’t want that document to go with it. You can keep a secure digital copy on your device or in the cloud to have proof of ownership on the go.

3. Lock the ignition. 

Turning your motorcycle ignition off isn’t enough to deter a thief. The MSF recommends locking your motorcycle ignition and removing the key.

A rider puts a disc brake lock on their motorcycle.
A disc brake with an alarm can help dissuade potential thieves.
Su_Gus / Shutterstock

4. Use a disc lock with an alarm.

A disc lock for your bike can help steer potential thieves in the other direction and provide a layer of friction to deter them. A disc lock with an alarm can help alert you and others nearby to any movement or shocks it detects. 

5. Secure your motorcycle to another object.

Another way to provide additional barriers for potential thieves is by securing your motorcycle to another object. The MSF recommends locking bikes together when traveling with other riders. If you’re riding solo, consider locking your motorcycle to an immovable object. 

6. Make it less visible.

Motorcycles can look shiny and fancy and attract attention immediately. Make yours less visible by using a generic cover. Additionally, you may want to avoid customizing your bike in a way that draws more eyes. 

7. Consider adding a hidden tracker.

Simple Bluetooth trackers, such as Apple AirTags can easily be tucked out of sight and allow you to keep an eye on your bike’s location in real time with an app on your phone.

A motorcycle rider holds their helmet.
Keep detailed photographs of your motorcycle to share if it's stolen.
Vlad Linev / Shutterstock

What to do if Your Motorcycle is Stolen 

Having your beloved motorcycle stolen can be tough. Here’s what you should do next. 

Get details in order.

Gather details of the incident that can help you recover your bike. Include the time, date, location of the incident, your VIN, make and model, and any photos of the bike you have. 

File a police report.

Once you get the details, you can file a police report so there’s a record of the theft. This also may be a requirement for insurance as well. Depending on your area, you may be able to file a report online or in person at a local station. The good news? The Department of California Highway Patrol reported a 57.1 percent recovery rate for stolen motorcycles in 2020 and 42 percent of motorcycles stolen in 2021 were recovered by March 2022, according to the NICB.

Submit an insurance claim.

Let your insurance agent know that your motorcycle was stolen. You want to act quickly and have your police report ready to share with them.

Typically you can submit a claim online or over the phone with your insurance provider. It’s important to note your motorcycle insurance policy will need to include comprehensive coverage for theft to be covered.

Check pawn shops and online resale sites.

A thief may steal your motorcycle to sell as-is or for parts. Check local pawn shops and let them know your motorcycle was stolen so they can keep an eye on anything that comes in. Set up online alerts for your make and model on sites like Craigslist, and let law enforcement know right away if you see your motorcycle on one of these sites.

Unfortunately, there’s a higher likelihood that your motorcycle will be broken down and sold for parts, which are harder to track down.