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Thieves bugging bikes

Published: 28 August 2019

Updated: 28 August 2019

Hidden GPS trackers are increasingly being used by criminals to locate desirable bikes, then steal them at a more opportune moment.

And if you think taking a quick look around your bike for such a device will keep you safe, think again. "It’s worth bearing in mind that thieves hide their bugs in places that only pro bug hunters with the right equipment could find," says vehicle crime expert Dr Ken German.

"Most of these devices require some sort of internet connectivity and whilst experts can tell if there is surrounding Wi-Fi activity or if hotspots and SIM cards are used including who might be responsible, not many of us can.

"That said, the sale of DIY debugging devices has rocketed and many bug finding gadgets are advertised on the internet at prices ranging from £20 to £150.

Most state they will check to see if your vehicle has an alien GPS or RF device fitted as well as detecting spy cameras, phone bugs, white noise, telephone transmitters and other wireless devices that are compromising your private space and security.

"In reality, however, few of these gadgets can actually intercept or block hidden devices, they simply help you find them."

If you find a bug on your bike, it may be tempting to destroy it, but you’re better off taking it intact to your local police.

"They have knowledge of people who can disable such a device and maybe even investigate who has attached it and for what purpose," continued German. "It may well marry up with a current operation dealing with similar findings and reported thefts."

The good news is that the majority of bike thefts are still opportunistic and can be avoided with good locks and a bike cover, but if you want to take your security to the next level, you can fit a tracker of your own.

"Thieves will generally wheel a stolen bike around the corner from where they took it and then leave it to see if anyone is tracking it," says Bike Trac’s Bill Taylor. "That means our recovery time is often down to a couple of hours.

"Our units are passive, too, meaning they only transmit for five seconds every four hours, making them almost impossible for thieves to detect with scanning equipment. It’s important that a tracker is well hidden. Never fit it under the seat or connect it directly to the bike’s battery as you are just making it too easy for the criminals."

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