Wandered upon this gem of a QnA on reddit and thought you guys would be interested in how a thief works. I copied and pasted a bunch of questions here to make it easier for you guys (many more questions along the same lines are asked in the thread). Needless to say he got a lot of flak for posting up on a riding forum about stealing motorcycles.
Original link: http://www.reddit.com/r/motorcycles/..._operator_ama/
How much would you get per bike?
It varies depending on yr/make/model/condition. About 10-12 years ago there was an out of state buyer we used to crate bikes to that had the ability to create titles for them who paid $3500 for near new 1000cc supersports. 1,000-1,500 is more typical for super sports. Harleys vary quite a bit depending on model and options, from 1,000 for a basic late model sportster to several thousand for a highly optioned fat boy, road king etc.
Has anyone caught you in the middle of stealing a bike? If so describe that moment.
Yeah, once, we were doubled up on a bike getting a bike in front of a guys house on his lunch break in broad day light, took a little longer than expected, he came out, we ran back to the other bike hopped on and took off. He didn't even chase us on his bike, I was surprised. He looked more shocked than anything. This was 10 or 11 years ago and I still remember the look on his face.
I've had passers by walk right past, it happened on the very first bike I stole, some lady walked her dogs right passed us. There were two of us in riding gear, two bikes, she didn't even look twice. We kept working and rode off. This didn't happen to me, but the guy that got me into all this. He's getting some bike from an apartment complex in the middle of the day and can't break the steering. He notices some guy watching him, walks right up to him and says "Hey man, can you give me a hand, the handlebars on my bike are stuck and I'm about to be late for work." - The guy goes back to the bike and helps him break the steering lock. That guy has some CRAZY stories, he was stone cold and willing to go way way too far. Probably why he's dead now.
What did you use to steal them? (Van, truck, etc.)
Use? the bikes themselves. Even the slowest bike is faster and more nimble than most cars.
There is this common misconception that a few guys load bikes into trucks and vans. The people who get CAUGHT load bikes into trucks and vans. Your career will be very short if you're loading a 185mph rocket (that likely has a tracking system) that will outrun the police into the back of an 85mph van that will take you to the scene of your arrest. If you can't start the bike and ride off then you damn sure can't find and remove lojack.
In 10-15 years I've known a couple dozen thieves and only one that was foolish enough to load bikes into a truck or van for any length of time. He learned to wire them after he was caught, twice, lol.
How much would you say you've made in total from all your thefts?
When I was stealing them it was a part time deal. I had a full time job and just did it here or there. Eventually decided to save all the theft money and came up with 25k and started buying hot bikes. I spent a lot of money to appear legitimate down the road. My goal was to have a legit bike shop, but running a legitimate business was a hell of a lot harder than I thought and took a lot more capital than I had. I only made about 80k/yr after all the overhead. Even now when 80k seems like a tremendous amount of money it still isn't worth the risk I took.
How long would you say it would take for someone to blast through all that and yank it without me knowing? Like if they really knew what they were doing would it take 30seconds or 30 minutes???
I don't know where you are in the world, but if I saw all that I would think "this guy has been got before, probably more than once, and he wants blood!" While it's not worth getting shot over for me, there is always someone willing to take a lot of risk.
Sounds like it's going to take a while, certainly more than 30 seconds. I would move on. However if I saw it and was to get it I would do something like come back to shake it with a dog. See if an alarm goes off and if so wait around and see where the owner comes from and how long it takes for him to get there. Then I have an excuse for being near your bike "Hey sorry, my dog got away and bumped into your bike." Maybe stalk it a bit and see when you come and go. It would be out of order for me, but even if an alarm never went off it might be the odd bike I check on the spot. CAREFULLY remove the seats, pull the tank up, look around for wires and boxes that don't belong. Just a quick check for the time being. Get the ignition ready, then start working on the locks and break the steering trying not to move the bike at all.
If I can't quietly remove the rear disk lock I'm going to have to move the bike.
If you have a Yamaha I wouldn't remove the front rotor with power tools as the rotor bolts strip easily.
All in all it's going to take a while to get that one it sounds like. If your bike is as out of the way as it sounds I certainly think at least one of those people was scoping it out. Unless you live in a bar district or near a bar. Drunk people always like to get on random bikes for some reason.
here is what I'd like to know more about. What types of security methods really don't amount to anything? What types are actually worthwhile?
Cheap chains or locks. Every thief has a good sized pair of bolt-cutters that will cut through cheap chains. If you bought it at the local home-improvement store it will be cut through.
What bikes did you like to target the most?
Me personally, sportbikes, although Harleys paid better they were more difficult to locate and harder to move. Believe it or not motorcycle gangs are still alive and well and those old-school guys in those "clubs" don't like to mess with outsiders and they are the primary buyers for the harley stuff. They were pretty intimidating and I wasn't greedy enough to feel the need to step on their toes.
What was the profit margin like?
Once I started becoming the buyer rather than the thief, between 200 and 300% excluding Ducatis. They did much better, a goldmine.
What, out of all the security options available (disc locks, chains, alarms, a cover, lojack) would make you say "fuck that i wont steal that bike"?
Nothing stops someone who is determined, but the more time they have to spend there, the less likely they are to steal the bike. The biggest problem with lojack is that it's not a deterrent. If you put a "lojack" sticker on the bike that's even worse. I assumed they all had it and it was up to me to find it. In fact, when I didn't find it that's when I really got worried. If a nearly new bike didn't have it I was thinking "damn, this is a hell of an install, I can't find it anywhere, better open the air box and pull up the throttle bodies!" You don't want the bike being stolen in the first place. Locking cover, quality disc lock on the rear, quality chain and lock, and something to make noise. All can be carried easily in a backpack. The worst spot for bike theft is apartment complex parking spots, parking garages, and detached garages at apartment complexes. College "bike parking" places are another that thieves like to target. Maybe mall parking garages after that, but much further down. The absolute worst is outside an apartment in a nice part of town though. Avoid parking there and most of you will be alright.
Who were typically the end customers for the bikes or parts that were sold? Repair shops? Ebay?
When I first started used dealers and salvage yards. Once I got going as the buyer I would buy wrecked bikes to repair and resell, bare frames to swap onto hot bikes, then resell. I parted bikes through a B2B service, out of a storefront, then ebay as a last resort.
How did you justify what you were doing? Money or not, as a rider, I just couldn't bring myself to do something so horrible to someone because I know exactly how I'd feel if I walked outside suited up for a ride, and it just wasn't there.
To be honest, when I was younger, it didn't even phase me. I didn't give it a second thought. Once I became the guy buying bikes I was more removed. Eventually I wanted them broken down before they got to me. That made it even less real.
It wasn't until I was DEEPLY committed to it as a lifestyle that I started realizing just how fucked up I was. It was like I had spent years living in a fog. You live this double-life, tell this lie, and after a few years you start to believe your own bullshit.
When it used to take me minutes (45 or so) to break down a bike would start taking hours. I would find myself sitting and staring at the bike thinking about what a piece of shit I was. As dumb as it sounds I didn't know how to stop and I didn't know how to do anything else. I basically quit cold turkey and quit buying hot bikes. Everything has been shitty for me ever since and I deserve every second of it.