How to unsteal a motorcycle

July 7 2023

2am, East Williamsburg
I was awoken by my motorcycle tracker telling me that Suki (my motorcycle) was getting messed with. I get up immediately, look out my window and I don’t see it. I put on my clothes, grab a flashlight, and head downstairs.

*It was not chained, it had one disc brake lock on it, it had two trackers (one of which was found and discarded by the thief

I turn on the “live tracking” mode on the tracker and start walking towards the first location ping while calling the police. Shockingly, the police actually picked me up within a few minutes and we start driving around looking for it. We’re looking for the bike or a van/trailer. Traffic is pretty light as its 2am.

I realize the first location ping on the tracker was just a default location in the area, the actual GPS location is where my motorcycle was 
(I later realize this tracker was on the ground the whole time).

I start checking the location of the Airtag I had also hidden on Suki, the airtag gives actual location updates roughly every 20 minutes, but each one is 10 minutes late. I’m not sure if the pings were coming from nearby iPhones or the thief had an iPhone or what.

We chase it up the street nearly to Greenpoint, then almost down to Bed-Stuy. We never actually saw the bike and have no idea what we’re looking for, and with so much delay we decide its not possible to follow it.

They drop me off back where I live, we find on the ground:
- the first tracker
- my disc brake lock.

The police note down nearby security cameras.

Some other cops picked me up to go to the precinct to fill out some paperwork. They wanted to do it ASAP to get an “alarm” on the license plate, so that license plate readers would tell cops to pull the bike over. After filling out paperwork for 1 hour, I see the airtag location is now in Dumbo on Gold St, and then finally Kensington/flatbush area.

My phone is about to die, the police take a picture of my phone to get a picture of the bike in its last known state. My phone dies.

I’ll also note its good to carry your insurance/registration in your wallet as opposed to on the bike. The registration was necessary for the paperwork.

I get home exhausted and sweaty and sticky, I try to sleep and plug in my phone. I mostly give up at this point.

I have not gotten a single bit of sleep. My phone is now charged. I realize that Suki is still at the same spot in Kensington.
I get dressed, and hurriedly take a lyft to the location.  I would have taken the train but I thought time might be of the essence.

5:30am, Kensington
After looking up and down the block for 15 minutes, I find my bike under a cover in the yard of an apartment building (!!!!!!).

I see a locked bike chain around the rear tire. I call 911 and ask if they can help me steal back the motorcycle. I realize that the locked chain is just wrapped around the wheel, not locked around it (?).

I pull the cover off and see my headlight cowl is still bolted on, but pried open, with the ignition disconnected to hotwire the bike, I'm missing one turn signal, I'm missing my milk crate (Noooo!), and they put a tacky sticker over the license plate. The license plate is still there, secured with torx screws.

I pull the cover off and see that my headlight cowl is pried open. The ignition is disconnecte to hotwire the bike. Somehow the thief broke one of my turn signals, they got rid of my milk crate, and they put a tacky sticker on the license plate (so much for the “alarm”).

I have the number for the station iPhone for the original precinct I reported the theft to, and I let them know I found the bike, they advised that I take it a few blocks away to avoid a confrontation with the thieves, which sounds like a good idea. A better idea than waiting for the cops from the local precinct.

I reconnect my ignition and go a few blocks away. The cops at the original precinct are working on removing the "alarm" on my plate/vin to mitigate the chance of me getting pulled over on my own stolen bike for it being stolen.

I cancel the 911 request for the 70th precinct.

I wait 30 minutes or so, the "alarm" is removed, I ride home.

I received probably like 5-10 calls from the police over the day asking what had happened, I tell them what happened. A detective later came to ask me to tell her where exactly it happened.

I had to replace my rear right turn signal, I had to fix the headlight mounting brackets. I had to replace one disc brake lock. I had to replace my nice milk crate.

Lessons learned:
- carry your paperwork on you, not on the vehicle.
- Hide several trackers well
- Do chain the motorcycle to a stationary object