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Ian Mohd Yusof
Tuesday, Sep 16, 2014

Singapore

Before they strike...

The New Paper | Ian Mohd Yusof | Tuesday, Sep 16, 2014

CAUGHT: Muhammad Irwan Azman stole four motorcycles in a span of two hours on March 21.

Here's the good news: Motorcycle theft is on the decline.

The number of reported thefts dropped from 551 in 2011 to 282 in 2013.

And for the first half of this year, there were 31 fewer cases than the same period in 2013 (165 cases).

But this is no reason to be complacent as we occasionally hear of bike thieves like Muhammad Irwan Azman who on March 21, stole four motorcycles in a span of two hours.

We asked experts how to avoid being a victim of bike thieves.

It starts with discouraging them, says Mr Abdul Halim Abdul Shukor, a former police officer who spent five years in a vehicle theft team.

Says Mr Halim: "Covering your motorcycle (with a bike cover) or locking its wheels will deter, or at least slow them down. A well-secured bike is less attractive to thieves." Bike thieves use simple items such as screwdrivers or master keys to start older motorcycles with worn ignition slots, Mr Halim says.

He adds: "The more experienced thieves are capable of hot-wiring motorbikes. Some can steal a bike in under three minutes."

But there are ways of protecting your two-wheeled investments.

Disc-lock alarm

Mr Steven Teh from Chong Aik International says one of the cheapest ways is to install a disc-lock equipped with an alarm. It costs only around $50. "It has a built-in sensor," says Mr Teh. "The alarm will go off when your bike is touched."

All-round defence

The Scorpio SR-1100 is regarded as one of the more sophisticated anti-theft systems available.

It is equipped with tilt, shock and perimeter sensors which can be adjusted via a laptop or mobile phone.

When a thief tries to move your motorcycle, the system sends you an SMS alert while concurrently tracking your motorbike's location.

Complete Lockdown

Thieves may be able to overcome ignition systems of older motorcycles but there is nothing like securing a bike to a strong anchor point, says technical adviser Mike Goh from motorbike retailer Dirt Wheel.

"It just takes too much effort to break a strong lock and chain," says Mr Goh, 42.

Alternatively, you could lock your handlebar steering or chain your wheels to your bike frame.

A heavy-duty chain like the 12mm-thick, sleeved Oxford chain could potentially give a thief an arm workout.

That is provided you use a heavy-duty lock too or are not troubled by the inconvenience of lugging a lock and chain.

Ride a modern bike

From radio frequency identification to ignition keys with built-in microchips and immobilisers, these are high-tech motorcycles with secure ignition systems.

In Honda's case, its new motorcycles are armed with Hiss - Honda Ignition Security System.

"You can't start a Hiss-equipped motorcycle without using the motorcycle's original key," says Mr Andy Yeong of Boon Siew Honda.

That is because the engine control unit (ECU) must recognise the code embedded in the original key.

Thieves who decide to lift your motorcycle into a van and re-wire it at a safe location will realise that it is going to be a costly exercise, says Mr Yeong.

He adds: "It costs $2,000 just to change the ECU and it will take time and expertise to synchronise the new keys to the ECU. It is not worth their time."


This article was first published on September 14, 2014.
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