Gone in Sixty Seconds...Really!

Just how much time does it take to steal a bike? Well, using the title of a recent movie franchise as an example, stealing a bike can take as little as sixty seconds while some security specialists feel that it can take as long as ninety seconds. Yes, you read right - 90 seconds to access and remove your bike! All it takes is a bit of ingenuity and speed to access your bike before snapping the steering lock and lifting it into a waiting van. No great skill needed.

This past week once again demonstrated just how well organised motorcycle theft syndicates are with a number of posts on Facebook calling on followers to look out for stolen bikes. In one instance, video footage from a security camera shows that from the time taken to access the bike to when it is loaded onto a bakkie and driven away, a mere one minute and twenty seconds passed.

And here's the sad thing about an already miserable situation. In most cases, the bikes were fitted with standard tracking systems that were unable to find the bikes! In all instances, the thefts were discovered when the owners went to either leave for work or check on an open garage - long-after the bikes were stolen. By the time they had alerted their tracking service, the tracker's themselves were either disabled or separated from the bike, making recovery almost impossible.

Recently, requests to insurance companies for statistical information on the number of bike thefts versus recoveries met with a wall of silence. Either they don't keep this information, or they are hiding the sad performance of recognised tracking systems to actually provide a solution. Most insurers require at least a frame-marking system on bikes to provide cover, when in truth not one bike has been recovered through this system. Yes, bike frames are found sometimes years later, but they make no difference in tracing or recovering stolen bikes. A good example is the number of stolen bikes that are openly sold and available in Mozambique - and which are never reunited with their rightful owners in spite of having the basic marking system.

If your tracking unit fails to alert you to the slightest interference with your bike when you are not there - or you don't get a call to warn you that your bike is being moved or tampered with at night, dump it and get a better system. Unlike a motorcar that is relatively easy to track and find, bikes are stashed in pick-up vans, taxi's and under vegetables and produce when they are stolen, therefore almost impossible to find unless they are being tracked from the moment of theft. Very few bikes are ever ridden away during theft in this country, and they will almost never go past traffic cameras and number plate recognition systems, so you need an effective and intuitive tracking system to make allowance for this.

There is no point in having a system that requires you to raise the alarm when your bike is missing. Because, by the time you realise the bike has gone, it has been stripped of its tracker and is untraceable by the trackers. Just as pointless is using a tracking system that can tell you where it last tracked the bike before it lost contact! What you need is an early-warning system that prevents theft in the first place - not one that relies on your intuition and activation. We would have thought that insurance companies would embrace this kind of system but clearly, their risk of payout is more than offset by the exorbitant premiums that bike owners are milked of.

If you have a tracker on your bike, start asking a few pertinent questions of your tracking company. If you don't, remember the sixty-second rule!


Guardian Angel is southern Africa's only intuitive, bike-specific theft prevention, tracking and emergency response service available. It watches your bike every minute of the day and let's you know the moment someone tampers with it before it is stolen. And in the event that it is uploaded, it provides an unmatched tracking and response network that not only accurately identifies the bikes position, but also vectors the authorities, private security and neighbourhood watch service providers into its location.

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