Those of you wishing for Decoy Bikes in London..Its happening...


A RIDE Stealing motorbikes from the capital’s streets is big business for the opportunist thieves

– and not that hard to do. However, the Met is working with manufacturers to catch the

bike-takers in the act, just as they think they’ve got away with it…

Det Sgt Martin Redhead says there is a Met-wide problem of bike theft In preparing the crime-prevention aspects of Operation Edge, the Stolen Vehicle Unit put together a video that showed how quickly a former bike thief could steal a scooter or motorbike depending on how it had been secured. He recorded the following times:

An unchained motorcycle –

under 40 seconds.

A motorcycle chained to

street furniture, but with the

chain trailing on floor – under

60 seconds.

A motorcycle chained to street

furniture without the chain

trailing near the floor – under

four minutes.


Between October 2006 and July 2007,

6,415 mopeds and motorbikes were

stolen in London

Stealing a moped can be easy.

A soft target is best, as ever. One that’s not secured too well. It can take as little as 40

seconds. If it’s a bigger bike, and it isn’t chained down, get a mate or two to help

lift it on to the waiting van. Job done.

The ease with which mopeds and motorbikes can be snatched is reflected in the crime figures.

Motor vehicle thefts have fallen steadily in recent years. According to the British Crime Survey, offences fell by 61 per cent between 1995 and 2006.

They’re still heading down, with the number of thefts in London dropping by around 10 per cent in April/May 2008 compared to a year earlier.

But the statistics have remained stubbornly high for mopeds and motorbikes. In fact, they are far more

likely to be stolen than a car and are less likely to be recovered.

Between October 2006 and July 2007, 6,415 mopeds and motorbikes were stolen in London. This accounted for 23 per cent of all vehicle thefts during that period, which is startling because two-wheelers account for a much smaller percentage of the total number of vehicles in the capital. And contrary to expectations, the geographical breakdown shows that central London is not the place where a bike is most likely to be stolen, as you might expect – it’s the surrounding areas, such as Camden.


Many of London’s inner boroughs have long had a problem with moped and motorbike theft, but this changed for Camden with the launch of Operation Edge in October 2007, which tackled the issue head on.

The Stolen Vehicle Unit, part of the Specialist Crime Directorate based in Chalk Farm, provided the spark for the operation. It’s not the sort of initiative the unit would normally get involved with, but its location played a big part in getting the operation kick-started.

Detective Sergeant Martin Redhead explains: “Our research showed there was a Met-wide problem with motorbike theft, and that the statistics in Camden were particularly high. The Stolen Vehicle Unit physically sits in Camden, so it seemed a natural initiative to pursue.We identified where the problems were, and what mopeds and bikes were being stolen.

Then we contacted the relevant people in the borough and at the local council, and found they were already thinking along the same lines.” Intelligence on bike thefts puts them into two distinct categories.The first are sports bikes with big engines, built for speed. Organised gangs normally steal these for the parts and panels, which will fetch more money than a complete bike. In the second category are mopeds, or scooters.These vehicles more often fall victim to opportunist crime, usually committed by teenage joyriders.

But while knowing who is committing the crime is one thing, catching them is quite another.This can be a tall order given the speed with which most mopeds and motorbikes are taken.The low associated recovery rates don’t help, either.The bottom line is that the best way to deal with the crime is to catch the perpetrators in the act.


With this in mind, a decoy bike was the obvious first step for Operation Edge. The immobilised and secured moped made its first appearance on the streets of Camden on 22 October 2007, positioned in a crime hot spot as identified by statistical analysis. “It was attacked almost instantly,” says Det Sgt Redhead. “ The control car didn’t even have time to get in position.

In fact, whenever the bike was deployed, the maximum amount of time before somebody made an attempt on it was a couple of hours.”

This meant the observation team was kept busy – a total of 21 people were arrested during the 10 days of the operation, seven of them in direct relation to attempted theft of the decoy bike.

Crime prevention made up a second, equally important, strand of the initiative. It involved leafleting parked mopeds and stopping riders to check ownership of the vehicles they were on and offering them security advice. The process revealed that owners need to be encouraged to pay a lot more attention to security.

“Camden has spent a lot of money putting in street anchors where bikes can be secured,” says Det Sgt Redhead, “but we discovered that while people would park their bikes in the bays, theywouldn’t use the street furniture.” With the success of Operation Edge under its belt, and with more intelligence on the nature of the problem, the team felt they were in a strong enough position to go and speak with the moped and motorbike manufacturers and ultimately ask them to donate decoy vehicles. “We had a meeting with the Motor Cycle Industry Association,” explains Det Sgt Redhead. “We showed it the results of the operation and explained how we did it. Basically, we said that by using decoy vehicles we have a way of reducing crime without having to change the design of the bikes.”

As a result of this, Yamaha Motor UK signed up immediately and has provided four of its popular models for ongoing operations to catch motorcycle thieves.

Andy Pumfrey, Yamaha Motor UK’sdivisional head of new business, says his company’s frustration with the commercial knock-on effects of bike thefts caused it to respond. “Though it’s great to appear in top-10 sales charts, appearing twice in the top-10 list of London’s most stolen vehicles isn’t so great,” he adds. “And when people have a bike stolen they often cannot afford to come back in to the market. So anything we can do to reduce the

glad it’s not just me who reads the job :slight_smile:

number of thefts is beneficial to our customer base in the long term.This is a key reason why we decided to support the Met.“What’s more, at a time when we are facing rising fuel costs, we need to encourage more people to use mopeds and motorbikes, not fewer.”

Other firms, including Piaggio, have since said they will get involved as well. “Yamaha has given us one moped, two 125cc bikes and an R6 sports bike,” says Det Sgt Redhead.“We’re starting operations with the moped, so that has already been fitted with the necessary equipment.”

This “necessary equipment” includes an immobiliser. If there is an attempt to steal a bike, the deployed officers need to be able to go straight for the suspect – the last thing they want is a getaway situation followed by a high-speed chase. As a back-up, in case the worst should happen, there is also a tracking device to be fitted to each of the bikes.

However, there are few places where it can be concealed so that it doesn’t arouse the suspicions of would-be thieves. It requires a degree of cunning and ingenuity to get right. This also explains why efforts to improve security for mopeds and motorbikes, in the same way as cars, have stalled – manufacturers have found it hard to add anything to the bikes that doesn’t add to their weight, bulk or cost.

“A lot of the problems are down to how the vehicles are designed,” admits Andy. “The market dictates that the bikes have huge power-to-weight ratios, so it becomes difficult to stick a heavy immobiliser or alarm on it because that then interferes with the aerodynamics, the weight balance, and so on. In a way, we are victims of our own success in designing bikes. People want lighter and faster machines, and these are the ones that are most often stolen.”

Given this, the emphasis has naturally shifted to after-market security. But here Andy backs up the findings of Operation Edge that bike owners aren’t getting the message: “I often walk by bike parks in London and probably 50 per cent of the bikes aren’t secured in any way other than the steering lock, which is a two-minute job to jimmy them off.” As a manufacturer,Yamaha is trying to do more. It is finding ways of installing immobilisers on its bikes, it recommends a brand of alarm at the point of sale, and it produces Thatchamapproved padlocks and other devices. In fact, it is doing all it can short of forcing owners to employ better security.

But this is where Operation Edge and subsequent pushes can help.Apart from taking a big chunk out of Camden’s motorcycle-theft figures, it has suggested a way forward for the whole of the Met in confronting the problem. “Our thoughts are that every aspect has to be covered,” says Det Sgt Redhead. “Speak to the council and get them involved. Do the crime-prevention work and let owners know they can do a lot more.

And, of course, do the decoy bikes.”

Well, Johnse, least its not a secret eh? All avail in the public domain…

Original context as here in the online magazine for all police/public to read

Johnse, tell me in a pm sometime how you worked out my work department/role:cool:Did I previously tell you?

you mentioned it on a post somewhere - and I’m like an elephant I never forget :smiley:

nice to see the problem getting taken seriously at last :slight_smile:

Was it read out loud for you steve, or did you wear your reading glasses? bless…:smiley:

Decoy bikes - quality! Nice to know the Met is on the case with this :wink: .

+1 at last!


…Just gotta work with the manufacturer now, and convince them that I have a job for a decoy bike myself:D

Superb post. It would be nice if ALL bike & scooter manufacturers joined in like Yamaha.

It’s the sort of initiative I’d be inclined to make a personal and regular donation to in return for regular information on how well it was working. The donation would be fairly substantial if it included a gonad-removing-without-anaesthetic policy for convicted thieves!

It’s a great idea - I’m sure that a committee made up of all the insurance companys and bike manufacturers could cobble together enough resources and wonga to help the police expand and elaborate their sting operation.

It must be cost effective and in the bike importers/insurance co’s interests to do this - as the above article said - bike theft is taking people out of biking because they can’t afford increased premiums/keep paying out on insurance/excesses.

This thing has got out of hand and the criminals are starting to take the p1ss.

They need to get that bike down to EC1!

So, it’s only “mopeds and motorbikes” that get nicked. Good news for me on my scooter then :slight_smile: :):smiley:

Its good to hear that the Met has made some arrests with the decoy moped. They would probably have even more success if they used a KTM. Good too that Yamaha have signed up to it. The bit about Yam ‘trying to find ways to include immobilisers’ on their bikes is a bit strange as I thought they already did include them- mines got one anyway…

Interesting to see the first part of the article. Shows that the so-called security measures being (supposedly) paid for by our parking charges will be good for a whole 4 minutes. Wow! that should really deter the thieves…

You want me to delete this bit out? However im sure Jimmy whats his name and others know this already?!