Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, you’ll know that motorcycle crime rates are reaching epidemic proportions in London and some other parts of the UK.
As a result, motorcyclists are looking at new ways to protect their pride and joy. We all know the need to use the best quality padlock and chain we can afford, but it’s also a fact of life that there’s no guaranteed way to stop a determined thief from getting their quarry.
And that’s where trackers come in. These devices will not stop your bike from being stolen, but what they will do is to make it easier to recover – hopefully while it’s still in the hands of the bad guys.
A tracker is a RF (radio frequency) or GPS (Global Positioning System) device, much like a sat nav, that is connected to the battery and hidden away under your motorbike’s bodywork. They allow you to track where in the world your bike is, usually on your phone or computer, and if it’s stolen the police can be quickly identify where it is. There are plenty of tales of bikes being recovered within an hour of being stolen, or being retrieved after being exported out of the country. For many high value bikes, or policy holders in high risk postcode areas, fitment of a tracker can be a good way to reduce your annual insurance premium.
In general there are two types of tracker. Cheaper systems are available and can be fitted for a few hundred points. These can usually be set up to ‘geo fence’ your machine, alerting you by text when it moves, and if it is stolen then you should have a better chance of locating it and informing the police. These trackers can be picked up off the internet or from a local bike dealership and can be fitted at home by the competent DIY mechanic.
Of course, criminals have got wise to trackers. Some have been known to have detection devices to check for traces of trackers while trackers can be removed from the bikes, especially if they are not well hidden on the bike.
The other option is to go for a subscription based tracker service. Again, these are usually not too expensive to purchase, but normally need to be professionally installed. With this you’ll typically pay an annual subscription, currently £99 a year with Biketrac and Datatool’s systems, and for this your bike will be monitored 24/7, with the tracking company liaising with the police to recover your stolen vehicle.
There are plenty of tracking devices and monitoring services on the market, so do your research and don’t just go for the cheapest device on the market. Like locks, alarms, immobilisers and other security devices, trackers are tested and rated by Thatcham, the motor insurer backed automotive research centre, and their mark of approval is usually a good indicator of the effectiveness of a given device.