Ennis and Wheaver are back again, as guest bloggers, this time around talking about motorcycle crime….read on if you own or are thinking of owning a motorcycle to learn how to protect yourself from becoming a victim……
Just to introduce ourselves, we are commonly known as TB 97 and TB 98, 2 motorcyclists currently with the Road Harm Reduction Team, as part of the CMPG family based at Perry Barr. We are both trained to a national standard, in the identification of stolen vehicles.
Our main focus within the team is the prevention and detection of stolen and cloned vehicles, with the aim to prevent dangerous and sometimes fatal incidents of driving, by depriving the criminals the vehicles in the first place.
Motorcycling in the UK has had a large enthusiastic following in the UK for many years, in recent years there has been a rise in criminal activity around motorcycles which has had a negative effect for law abiding motorcycle riders, society in general and the motorcycle industry.
Very loosely, and not exclusively the criminal activity can be broken down into the following areas.
- Theft of machines
- Subsequent sale of stolen machines ( cloning)
- Breaking and subsequent sale of parts within UK and abroad
- Finance and insurance fraud
- Antisocial use and criminal activity using motorcycles
There are strong links between all of the above, criminals will often branch out into other areas in order to maximise profits.
Thanks to the technology available to us all, the world has become an accessible market place to willing customers with cash to spend, a distinct lack of due diligence when purchasing items off the internet will often be in the favour of criminal gangs.
Social media has also had its part to play in fuelling anti-social use of machines, video clips of antisocial and dangerous riding can give the riders a real sense of celebrity, with thousands watching on line and subsequently carrying out copycat behaviour.
Events are advertised on social media, with some organisers even going as far as to sell clothing and other branded goods, riders are buying in to a lifestyle choice with a degree of notoriety thrown in for free!
What is very evident is that many of the bikes used for anti-social behaviour, dangerous riding and criminal activity are not purchased via legitimate sources, it goes without saying that if you have to work hard to save for the machine of your dreams, the chances are you are not going to want to damage it. Easy come easy go springs to mind!
Perceptions on Police Pursuit Policy are steeped in rumour, incorrect interpretations and untruths, it is not correct to say that if you don’t wear a helmet or ride on the footpath, the Police will not pursue, many of the riders believe they are in a win/ win situation, they have an overestimation of their skills and abilities and a belief that they are above the law.
It goes without saying that officers have to strike a balance, yes they want to apprehend offenders but not at all costs, innocent members of the public must be protected from the thoughtless and dangerous actions of a small minority, there are several tactical options including the use of stinger and DNA sprays to identify offenders and remote aerial monitoring with high quality video capability.
Antisocial, dangerous, illegal riding and criminal behaviour will not be tolerated.
In the UK in 2017 there were around 27k thefts of machines; both on road and off road, a large percentage of these machines are never recovered.
Many of the thefts relate to the London area, not surprising due to the amount of machines used for commuting, many of the London thefts relate to smaller machines and scooters, but the issue is not exclusive to London, the whole of the UK is victim to this area of vehicle crime.
By their very nature, motorcycles are an attractive proposition to criminals, they are easy to steal if left unattended and insecure, poor physical security and a lack of social awareness can make motorcycle theft a high gain low risk occupation, with financial restraints imposed on Police forces, this area of crime may not be high on Police Chiefs agendas.
In Birmingham, August 2017, Police Officers attend an area known to be used by commuting motorcyclist and over a period of two weeks noted which motorcycles were parked in the allocated parking bays, this was also an area where motorcycle thieves were known to operate.
What was discovered was that many of the motorcycles had little or no security devices fitted, only 40% of the bikes had any meaningful security, some of the machines did not even have the steering lock activated, one had the keys in the ignition and even removable items such as sat- navs were left in plain view.
Evidence from officers and CCTV showed that machines were being selected by criminals and then were ped- pushed away, a method where two thieves arrive on a high powered scooter and, then simply push the machine away by the rider of the scooter placing his foot on the rear footrests of the selected motorcycle and using the scooter to power both machines away. The machines can be pushed to a location some distance away or loaded into a van, out of view.
The criminals were able to have their choice of machines with faces covered to hide from CCTV, no security to slow them down and no social interventions from the public.
To raise the issue within the motorcycle community Officers devised what looked at first glance like a parking ticket. Any machines that had no security fitted had a ticket placed on it. The idea was to give a shock response and encourage riders to improve security, in addition all the local motorcycle dealers were visited and a significant social media campaign was launched.
The effect was significant, after 4 weeks the return on motorcycles with meaningful security had risen to over 90%, the general consensus from the bikers was that they appreciated the reminder to lock their machines, especially because the officers were motorcyclists as well.
It would be wrong to say that this exercise has halted the theft of motorcycles across the city, it was only conducted in a small area to test the concept, it is fair however to say, although strikingly obvious, that if you lock your machine with some meaningful security, it is less likely to be stolen, not exactly rocket science!
Our security advice for Motorcyclists would be:-
- Always lock your machine and remove any unsecure valuables
- Use a quality lock and chain, preferably lock the machine to something secure
- Consider where you place the chain and lock to guard against cutting and attack
- Try and park in well-lit busy areas utilising any CCTV that may be available
- Report any unusual or suspicious behaviour to Police, don’t assume someone else will do it
- Don’t become part of the problem, only buy spares or equipment from reputable sources, if something appears to be too good to be true, it probably is!
If you wish to report any suspicious activity, most Police forces will allow for this to be done on line or call 101 unless it is an emergency