Recently, someone stole my friend’s motor scooter. A camera caught a few guys literally picking it up & putting it into the back of a pickup truck. I have heard of scooters being stolen but not in the area I live and work in since there just are not a lot of scooters around. While scooterists are an anomaly here, scooter theft is a real problem everywhere. It turns out I am not in a make-believe bubble of protection.
New scooter owners tend to be easier victims since they do not always know how easy it is to walk off with one. It is a real problem, and you can do your part to prevent headaches and heartbreak by thinking through your security options. What can you do to prevent your 200ish-pound scooter from being picked up or just picked and rolled away?
Prevent scooter theft by thinking in terms of layers. Lock your steering column, take the key, and conceal your scooter with a cover or parking strategically. Then add in 2 or more locks. Additional alarms or parts marking can be added for extra security layers.
It only takes 20 seconds to steal a scooter. What this tells me is that the scooter stolen in such a tiny time frame has virtually no protection. Finding the right balance between convenience and protection is the key here because no matter how awesome your theft prevention gear is, it only works if you will use it.
Keep in mind that no scooter is guaranteed to avoid this fate. All we can do is make it a harder task for a jerk that wants to steal it.
- Layer 1: Take the Key & Park it Well
- Layer 2: Two or More Locks
- Layer 3: Draw Attention
- Report Theft
Layer 1: Take the Key & Park it Well
Take Your Key With You
This may be obvious, but take your key and use your steering lock even if you will be gone for just a moment. Most scooter thefts are a result of opportunists, and it only takes a moment for a knowledgeable thief to walk off with your scooter. While a full lockdown of your scooter is not practical to run into the corner store, simply taking your keys is a quick win for you if it keeps jerks from walking off with your scooter beauty in those moments. Take your key and use the steering lock every time you get off of your scooter.
Out of sight, out of mind
Keeping your scooter in a garage is a much safer bet to keep it from being stolen. If it can’t be seen, it just is not a quick score for a scrupulous person.
No garage? Put it under a cover designed for scooters. It is not like it is under an invisibility cloak (Harry Potter, anyone?). We are not naive here. What we are doing is adding a layer of inconvenience for someone looking for a quick score. It is a cost-effective way to provide some concealment for your scooter.
Another benefit of hiding your scooter is that some thieves scout for certain scooter models to steal. Hide your scooter, and it is not an obvious score for the specific scooter a thief may be shopping for. Make it harder for them.
Beyond the security protection, a cover provides some weather protection for your scooter. I call that a win! Just look for a cover that is made of scratch-resistant material, elastic bottom to allow for a good fit, straps to secure it, and lock openings for front-wheel locks. It should also not have a brand name on it to keep as much information about your scooter type hidden from would-be thieves.
We have gone over the garage or adding a cover to conceal your scooter, but what are your options when a cover is not practical for a quick stop or a garage is not available?
An option is to park your scooter in a conspicuous spot. The key here is to choose a parking space with heavy traffic nearby. If someone is tampering with your scooter, the heavier traffic nearby may lend someone to see them working on stealing your scooter.
Another option is to park your scooter in an inconspicuous spot. The idea here is to park where passers-by do not see your scooter to target it but with moderate traffic nearby to not totally isolate the area. Think about restricting the visibility of your scooter by parking where another car is blocking the view of your scooter. This can be particularly helpful in places like parking garages.
You also want to make sure the spot still has good lighting. Thieves in the night prefer to have the cover of darkness to do their dirty work, so take that advantage away. If it is an option, you can look into adding a light. A motion-detector style light would be even better to add an element of surprise.
If you have an option, park your scooter in an area where crime is less of an issue. I know this is easier said than done in many situations, but I say this just to get you thinking about your options.
Layer 2: Two or More Locks
Lock Your Motor Scooter
Locking the steering column is another simple option for those quick moments that you need to be away from your scooter. However, thieves can simply break the steering lock and wheel your beauty away. This is why additional locks add inconvenience and make your scooter a pain to target over those less secured. Are you noticing a theme here? We are working to add layers of inconvenience to keep thieves away.
You have a few options here, but know that you will get the most protection by combining at least 2 of these options. One on the front and rear wheel, in addition to, a cover is a good combination, but here is a rundown of locking options.
- A disc lock secures to a brake disc to prevent someone from rolling your scooter away. Note that if you try to ride off into the sunset with this lock engaged, you can damage your scooter. Look for a lock with a cable that helps serve as a reminder to remove it, and some have audible alarm features to draw attention to a would-be thief.
- A D lock (aka U lock) is an option to put on the front wheel that keeps someone from rolling your scooter away easily.
- A grip lock secures the brake and throttle controls by engaging the brake specifically. This makes your scooter difficult to roll away.
- A front wheel can be taken off fairly easily, so you can use a chain through the back wheel anchored to an object anchored to an immovable object. If you do not have something to anchor to, weave the chain through the scooter frame and back wheel.
Know the Anti-Theft Options Your Scooter Has
Does your scooter have a built-in kill switch in your under-seat storage box? What about a key lock cover? This counts as part of your lock strategy to utilize the features installed on your scooter.
Additional Locking Option Tips
It is a good idea to secure your scooter to an immovable object. A lamppost or a bolted-down bench is an option, but make sure it is not something short enough that a thief could simply slip your chain, cable, or lock off. If you do not have an anchor point, you can look into adding your own anchor like this one.
Be sure that each time you use a lock that you point the key section downward. This makes picking the lock more difficult as it is harder to see and deal with the angle of it.
When using a chain or cable, be sure to keep it taut. This prevents someone from grinding through a long chain along the ground or having leverage to do their damage.
Locks labeled as case-hardened or made with hardened steel make them more difficult to cut through with tools.
Another option if you do not have access to an immoveable objection is to lock it to another scooter. Perhaps a friend’s scooter. I would steer clear of locking my scooter to a stranger’s scooter unless I want to deal with that kind of crazy fall out.
If you can pay more, this is an area where cost equates to more value for the most part. The harder it is to get through the locks and chains you choose, the more protection you get. At a minimum, you make the process take longer for a thief which serves as a deterrent as it provides for more time for them to be caught in the act.
Layer 3: Draw Attention
Add an Audible Alarm
Adding an alarm gives you a bit more protection, and you can have that as a component of a disc lock or as a standalone device. There are several types to choose from with varying degrees of help. Features available include those that provide tracking, immobilization, anti-grab, and movement sensors for protection and tracking. Bonus: The full-featured alarms may also give you an insurance premium reduction. Below are a couple of options with their links to dive into what is right for you.
Mark Your Scooter
This was news to me, but if you mark as much of your scooter as possible, thieves will have a rough time selling your parts. If they see this, you are not as nice as a target. Even if they do & take your scooter, you made their life harder. Small consolation, but I will take that satisfaction!!
Scorpion Mark uses a parts-marking process to permanently mark a vehicle’s parts with a vehicle identification number (VIN) or alphanumeric code, but they work with dealers for the install.
DataTag is a United Kingdom based company that provides permanent etching options that has no annual fee associated with kits available for post-purchase install. They do ship to the United States, as well.
Even just a sticker that indicates you have an alarm could serve as a deterrent even if you do not actually have one. It is worth a shot!
Pay Attention to Your Surroundings
It is possible that a thief will follow you to where your park your scooter and then return at a more convenient time to commit the theft. As you approach your destination, glance in your mirrors from time to time to have a feel for if someone is following you. This is even more important if you are approaching where you will be keeping your scooter overnight.
If you wonder about someone in your rearview, you can always pull over to let them pass, make a U-turn, or go to a shopping center parking area with plenty of other people around to help you feel more sure that you are not being followed or discourage them if you were. If you do not shake the worrisome person, call your local police to report the suspicious activity to be on the safe side.
With that, make sure your local authority phone numbers are preprogrammed into your phone. You never know when you will need to make a call.
I hate to even talk about this, but if your scooter is stolen, be sure to report it to your local authorities.
I heard a crazy story of police recovering a scooter that was stolen over 6 months ago. A scooterist was riding around and got pulled over for some minor traffic violation. The police officer ran the scooter’s registration, and down the line, it is discovered that the scooter belongs to another person that never reported it stolen! Stories like this are a surprise to me, but it compelled me to add this last tidbit.
Report theft. You might just get lucky and get your beauty back in one piece. Fingers crossed, at least!
Final Thoughts On Your Security Choices
Think through your specific situation as you decide on which options to employ in your effort to secure your scooter.
For example, the friend that had their scooter stolen was driving a lighter weight low-200 pound one. A few guys could pick it up. For this lighter scooter, an alarm that could detect perimeter, tilt, or vibration could have provided an audible deterrent. If it had been chained to an anchor, it would have added a layer that the thieves would have had to deal with. The friend just had the key out, the steering column locked, and it was parked in a shopping center parking lot with no extra protection while she had a late dinner.
If you are driving a heavier scooter, you do not have to worry about a few guys picking your scooter up in the same way. However, having a disc lock with an audible alarm on the front wheel with a cable and lock on the back wheel weaved around the frame of the scooter, and you are doing pretty good. Now add a cover, and I think you get a gold star in trying to keep your scooter protected.
Parking your scooter in a garage that is equipped with an alarm could be enough.
Each case is unique as the thieves in your part of the world may be more sophisticated or at least more determined. Think through the scenarios that you feel impact your motor scooter’s risk level to help you find the balance between protection and convenience.
Whatever you decide, make sure you use what you need to keep your scooter as unlikely as possible to be stolen.