Smart scooter security

It is a truth universally acknowledged in the scooter community that a thief in possession of a certain determination will get your scoot if he wants it. A visiting friend asked with raised eyebrows whether the Vespa was safe parked in the alley lot behind my apartment, so I filled her in. The goal of scooter security is to deter theft, to make your scoot as unappealing to a thief as possible so they simply don’t bother. I take a few different measures to secure mine.

  1. Unbranded cover. In addition to protecting my Vespa from the elements, this makes her less visible to anyone passing through with insidious intentions. I don’t have a garage, so when she’s parked in the alley lot, the cover is on. A Vespa-branded cover could call attention to the fact that there’s a top brand scooter under there, so I stick with this cheapie. (Mine was free from the previous owner, but a basic cover is around $50 on Amazon, and nicer ones increase accordingly)
  2. Grip lock. This is on whenever she’s parked, cover or not. I apply it to the right grip to lock the throttle and the front brakes. In addition to securing the scooter’s working mechanisms and making it more of a pain for thieves, by locking the throttle I also protect the engine from unintentional flooding by curious kids who might try to crank the grip and make vrooming noises. Hey, I’m told it happens. With the grip lock, I’m making sure it doesn’t. I even use it when parking at work in a secure lot, just because people are naturally curious and want to touch things. Don’t touch my throttle, weirdo. ($15 on Amazon, they make nicer ones for a higher price)
  3. Cable and padlock. Whenever possible, I lock the scooter to something. The GT200 has a steel loop built into the frame for this very purpose, so I don’t have to thread and loop things all over the place. A determined thief could deal with these, sure, but it’s a lot harder than a scooter that’s not locked down. Scooters are pretty light compared to motorcycles, and a few rotten souls working together could easily walk off with mine and smash the grip lock later. ($30 for this setup) Bonus points to Vespa for this thoughtful placement behind the sidestand mount – if I set the bike up without unlocking the cable, I get a nice loud clang when the stand hits the lock, as a gentle reminder to not try and drive off while tied to a concrete pillar.
  4. Integrated Vespa security. Whenever I park, I crank the handlebars to the left to lock the steering, then turn the key to the Lock position to enable the engine immobilizer. A blinking light on the instrument panel makes it clear to anyone passing by that something is secured on this bike. All modern Vespas have security built into the keys in the form of RFID chips. If it’s not programmed to match my master key (which is in the fire safe), it’s not going to start my scoot or open the glove box or saddle. Some heinous master thieves who are also scooter mechanics can smash into the thing and basically rebuild the engine, but come on. The work to break and repair it isn’t worth what you’d get selling a ten-year old bike.

The one common scooter security mechanism I don’t use is the disc brake lock. It’s a great choice for a lot of people but it’s kind of redundant with all the other locking things I have in place already, both the integrated ones and the add-ons. They make some fancy ones with audible alarms and whatnot if you’re really into that sort of thing.

So if you’re an evil human being with no heart, go right ahead and try and take my scooter if you really think it’s worth the trouble. I have insurance. Will it be worth your time and effort to not only take it, but get it in working order after you’ve destroyed the ignition and the steering and the throttle? Probably not. And she’s not worth much stripped for parts, either. So I’ll tell you what, buddy – why not grab that other bike without the grip lock and the padlock and RFID keys? Save yourself the trouble and go for an easy score. No need to thank me – leaving my scoot in place and intact is good enough.

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3 thoughts on “Smart scooter security

  1. A guy in our group just had a pair of thieves cut thru a chain link fence that his 50cc Roughhouse was chained to, so don’t for a second think a 10yr old 200cc Vespa is not a huge target. They see your scooter one day, look at the security, go gather the tools needed (quiet battery operated saw) and then come back and free your beloved scooter in under a minute. So many stories on Modern Vespa and Modern Buddy. It’s a shame there are so many aholes out there.

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    1. Oh I don’t think for a moment that my scoot is ever 100% safe. Deterrence will only get you so far – but it’s really my only choice with no garage. I just make sure I’m insured for the full value of the scoot, take whatever precautions I can, and hope people aren’t idiots. It’s kind of like how we ride, isn’t it? Kitted out in full gear and practicing the safest ride and STILL some idiot can just run right into you.

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  2. Yep, it’s all about sufficiently slowing the cretins down, not stopping them in their tracks: given enough time, a seasoned thief WILL nab that bike, so we do what we can. You’re doing a bit more than I am (got the nondescript cover and Grip-Lock, working on the secure cable/chain setup – chain being the preferred option). Fortunately, my neck o’ the woods doesn’t suffer much of this this sort of crime, but I try not to be complacent.

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