Bike security scheme aims to cut theft

Melanie Falconer
August 18, 2012

Called the MASTER (Motorcycle and Scooter Tagged Equipment Register), the scheme has been developed in conjunction with both Datatag and the Police.

It is available to participating manufacturer members of the MCI so that they can offer new motorcycles and scooters marked, tagged, registered and recorded by the MASTER scheme. Honda, Triumph, Suzuki, Kawasaki, BMW and Yamaha have already signed up to the scheme. The cost of a bike registered with the MASTER Security Scheme will be absorbed by the manufacturer, with no extra cost to riders.

The scheme works by using a sophisticated array of technology to give each component part a unique fingerprint.  This involves a combination of visible and concealed elements, including hidden data dots, stealth etching and a number of transponders embedded into parts - similar to the technology that allows the chipping of cats and dogs. Police have access to Datatag’s register of participating bikes 24 hours a day, which is updated continuously.

Each visible tag is displayed in a prominent place on the bike, alerting potential thieves to the fact that it is marked and registered.  If the tag is tampered with, it disintegrates. If the tag is missing from models from participating manufacturers, alarm bells will ring for police and subsequent owners.

The scheme was developed to address the growing problem of bike theft. Around 26,000 motorcycles are stolen each year, the majority of them being under three years old, and MCI research shows 43% of all insurance total loss pay-outs are due to theft.

According to the Motorcycle Crime Reduction Group, recovery rates are as low as 18% for superbikes. Many motorcycles are broken up into parts within hours of being stolen and reassembled onto legal frames, which have log books.  The majority of these ‘clones’ find their way into the legitimate dealer network, as it is currently nearly impossible for dealers or the police to identify stolen parts.

D. C. Ian Elliott, from the Metropolitan Police Stolen Vehicle Division who has been instrumental in helping to devise the MASTER scheme said: “We've long known that security marking is one of the most effective theft deterrents. This move by the motorcycle industry to put in place a standard national security scheme will help reduce crime enormously, particularly here in the capital, as thieves will simply avoid these marked machines.”

London is the hardest hit city by motorcycle crime, with on average more than 35 machines taken each day.

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