Government blame for motorcycle theft

The former Campbell Newman Government not only disrupted Queensland’s motorcycle industry with discriminatory VLAD laws, but may also have contributed to the state’s skyrocketing motorcycle theft rate.

RACQ spokesman Steve Spalding says the state’s rising car and bike theft rate is a result of the former government’s decision to pull out of the National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council (NMVTRC) about five years ago.

Consequently, Queensland’s motorcycle theft rate has risen the most of any state. In the past 12 months it is up 10.2%, while the national rate is down 3.5%.

“It cost $200,000 a year to be part of the council,” Steve says. “But it gave us access to a lot of research, detailed analysis and effective programs such as the young offender program.”

Police Minister Mark Ryan has not replied to our request for comment about the current government rejoining the NMVTRC.

The massive rise in Queensland’s motorcycle theft rate has prompted a police and RACQ “Stop Stolen Motorcycles” awareness campaign to remind riders to secure their bike.

Motorcycle theft Senior Constable Tony Tatkovich and Steve Spalding RACQ
Senior Constable Tony Tatkovich and Steve Spalding RACQ wth a motorcycle disc lock

Theft campaign

In Queensland, the motorcycle theft hotspot is Brisbane where 232 bikes were stolen from 2012 to 2017.

Half were stolen from parking bays, 108 (47%) were taken from a residence and eight (3%) from businesses. 

Only 48% of stolen motorcycles are partially recovered. Most are disassembled and sold for parts. 

Stop Stolen Motorcycles campaign leader Senior Constable Tony Tatkovich says 96% of stolen bikes were not fitted with a security device.

Senior Constable Tony Tatkovich launches awareness campaign motorcycle theft
Senior Constable Tony Tatkovich launches awareness campaign

“The best way to prevent your motorcycle from being stolen is to take significant measures by using anti-theft devices like disc locks with audible alarms or tracking devices,” the Yamaha R1 fanatic says.

“With a loud motion sensor alarm in them they cost from about $50 and act to deter would-be thieves as well as alert the community who are witnesses to the crime.”

Steve, who is a keen Suzuki Bandit rider, says disc locks would make a “relatively inexpensive” Christmas gift for a rider.

If riders see or hear suspicious behaviour involving motorcycle theft, they can contact Policelink on 131 444 or provide information using the online form 24 hours a day. 

The Stop Stolen Motorcycles campaign consists of leaflet drops on bikes and at dealerships, as well as posters at carparks and social media.

Theft hotspots

State/Territory Local Government area Previous 12 month Past 12 months % change
QLD Brisbane (City) 2,436 2,632 8.0% 
QLD Gold Coast (City) 1,655 1,879 13.5% 
QLD Logan (City) 1,056 1,288 22.0% 
VIC Hume (City) 1,025 1,113 8.6% 
ACT Greater ACT 1,199 1,098 -8.4% 
QLD Moreton Bay (Regional Council) 860 915 6.4% 
NSW Blacktown (City) 790 810 2.5% 
VIC Casey (City) 789 731 -7.4% 
VIC Moreland (City) 663 706 6.5% 
VIC Whittlesea (City) 780 695 -10.9% 

The national decrease in motorcycle theft in the past 12 months is a big turn-around.

Motorcycle theft rose 5% in the 2017/2018 financial year while all other vehicle theft across Australia dropped, according to NMVTRC figures.

The biggest change since then has been a marked decrease in theft in Western Australia which had been the worst performing state for some time. In the past 12 months, WA thefts are down a massive 21.3%.

As well as initiatives to make motorcycles safe from theft in Western Australia, the decrease has also been the result of a decline in the state’s economic fortunes since the mining downturn. 

Here’s how you can protect your bike

  • Use a secure disc lock with an alarm and a reminder cord attached to your handlebars so you don’t ride off with it still in place.
  • If you park your motorcycle outside your house, consider installing wireless outdoor security cameras or a motion sensor light near the bike.
  • Also, use the steering lock if your bike has one.
  • Even when parked in a secure location such as your garage or behind a locked gate, consider the extra security of using the steering lock, a disc lock or chain as well.
  • Pull out a spark plug or fuse, or have an immobiliser fitted.
  • Avoid parking your bike in railway or shopping centre car parks as these are notorious for theft.
  • Park in a locked carpark. If you have to park in the open, leave it where you can see your bike or in view of a security camera and/or under a light.
  • Otherwise, keep your bike out of sight, maybe parking it behind your car. If parking in a garage, block the bike with your car and ensure the garage is locked.
  • Use DataDot, DNA+ or a security tag to identify your bike.
    thief DNA+ invisible marker rampant campaign
  • When riding home, make sure you are not being followed.
  • Stay alert for suspicious vans or trucks driving around late at night. These are used to transport stolen motorcycles.
  • Put a cover over your bike. It might slow down thieves and prevent theft of accessories. But make sure it isn’t a flashy lone with the brand name of the bike on it. That only entices thieves.
  • When riding in a group, park your bikes together.
  • Consider marking your bike in a unique way that could aid in recovery and therefore dissuade thieves.
  • At hotels or public parking spaces, try to park in view of parking lot security cameras and lights.
  • Install a motorcycle alarm and/or a hidden kill switch.
  • Buy a GPS tracking system that can track and relay your bike’s speed, location and direction.


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