My son Martin has worked extremely hard this year. He is an ambulance person for the London Ambulance Service and as you can imagine, had a very intense spring and summer. As lockdown eased he felt it was time to treat himself, so he put some money down, signed the paperwork and got himself a Yamaha Tenere T7 all shiny and everything.

He had it for about a whole six weeks before it was stolen. Apart from going to and from work, he had one weekend away trail riding in the North. (See Up t’North).

Coffee And Crime
A couple of weeks ago he popped round to see us for a coffee and catch up on his day off. We live in south east London, in a typical urban Victorian street. He had been here about 15 minutes, sitting in the front room with a coffee and his Mum says:

“is that your bike alarm?”

It was and he jumps up shouting, heading for the door with me behind. There was the bike going down the road, us in pursuit in bare feet, screaming and shouting but to no avail. A passer by immediately sussed what was happening and joined the chase and a neighbour loading her car had the wherewithal to take a picture with her phone. None of that stopped them though.

For those that don’t know, the popular modus operandi of stealing bikes works like this:
Two blokes on a large scooter identify a target bike.
The passenger jumps off the scooter, cuts any lock with a battery disc cutter, breaks the steering lock and gets on the bike.
The guy on the scooter pushes the bike with his foot and away they go.
It takes seconds and they are not bothered if there is an alarm going off, the thieves will stop in places where they think they have some time and space to get to the alarm wires.

Call The Cops!
Apart from the alarm, the bike has an immobiliser and tracker fitted.
Martin jumped on my bicycle thinking they might be on a nearby estate, Jane called the cops. The tracker company called Mart and told him the bike was a couple of miles away in Greenwich. He heads home by which time the cops have turned up, very promptly, and are asking the usual questions. When Mart showed them his phone with the map with the bike's location they became far more interested.

We got the tracking data on the computer and the cops were able to talk to their colleagues, directing them to where the bike was at any particular time. The data was also able to confirm that the engine was not running. This did not stop them going at speeds between 30-40 mph.

The bike headed up through Greenwich Park and continued east. We have a friend, Mike who lives out in that direction. Himself a victim of a bike theft relatively recently. He was happy to join the chase in his van. I was able to update him while the police were keeping their cars informed.

SE28 Here We Come
The drama carried on as the bike headed to Thamesmead, an area the tracking company person said was recently a popular destination for stolen bikes. Thamesmead is a large estate and has a myriad of pathways easily allowing bikes to elude cop cars. However what our thieves did not know was that we and Mike know Thamesmead well.

Tracker 1, thieving b’stards 0
Once the police had finished their investigation Mike was able to load the bike into his van and bring it back to its owner who had been through the emotional wringer for an hour or two.

The guys who stole the bike knew exactly how to do their job and were clearly experienced and able. They had travelled more than ten miles pushing the bike along busy roads with the scooter. They were dressed in proper riding gear so looked the part and were not at all flustered when the police got close to them.

Now you would be forgiven to think that this was a story with a happy ending. Sadly not quite.

By breaking the steering lock the ignition was damaged. When a steering lock is broken the ignition switch needs replacing as well. The rear seat had been pulled off to expose the wiring for the alarm that the thieves ripped out thus a new alarm required. A side panel had gone presumably for the same reason and they had found and took the fancy Motion Pro trail Toolkit that Mart had bought.

It's Ok The Insurance Will Cover That...?
This happened on a Friday afternoon. Mart needed to be in work the next day for 6.00 am for the start of a series of 12 hour shifts. He needed transport so hired a car. That’s OK you’d think, the insurance will cover that...Well, thereby is the rub: Unable to get insurance at a half reasonable price, Martin has an excess of £1800. If he put in a claim the insurance company would write the bike off. He would get the market rate for a used bike minus the £1800. He would then get another new bike at a new bike cost and lose his no claims. It turns out better for him to pay the dealer to do the work and not claim, leaving him about £3000 out of pocket and with a very bad taste in his mouth.

he three electronic, digital devices all played their part in defending the bike from a successful theft. The police acted quickly and sent several cars after the bike including a traffic car. The helicopter was in the air too but a little late on the scene. And our mate Mike was fantastic being so willing an able in jumping in his van to help out and was so close to getting one of the thieves.

Is there a moral to this sorry tale? I dunno, perhaps there are several, work out which suits you best. But, if you have a new bike or a treasured one, it might be an idea to get a tracker fitted.

Martin's addendum:
As an addendum to the tale and to prevent any idea that it is a concluded story, the perpetrators have been spotted on the same local streets of South London, prowling around for their next mark. They have been approached and have simply drawn some pretty serious looking bladed weapons so, in hindsight, giving chase down the street may have resulted in a far more sinister story. They seem to be able to act with brazen impunity and fear no retribution. I was recently told by some colleagues over in the Met that they seem to be quite happy to continue using the stolen motorcycles to commit further crimes without even removing the original number plates and are well known to the local constabulary.

The sad truth as the owner of the motorcycle is that you are in a pure loss situation. Either the bike is tracked and returned and you are very deeply out of pocket, or the betting game you are obligated to play with the racketeering insurance is lost. I don’t think it’s a false equivalency to question who is more invested in the theft of motorcycles: the profiting thieves or the profiting insurance companies.

The game is rigged so there is only ever one loser, the crime victim. There is, of course one other benefactor and that is the garage or dealership that gets to do the repair work. Not their fault, that's what they are there for and I must at this point pay a special thank you to the staff at Woodford Yamaha who not only provided exceptional sales services originally but got me back on my Tenere as soon as they could after I had the bike delivered to them. Granted, I had to hold my breath when being handed the invoice but at that point I just wanted to my hands back on my bike. An expensive but very valuable lesson has been learned.

Have you had similar issues? Get in touch by emailing us or tell us on Facebook!


21/09/20 - There's a reason why I don't ride into London. Too stressful.

Posted by Dave Newman
for Wemoto News on 18 September 2020 in General News

Edited By: Denisa Orbulescu



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