Beware The Babysnatchers

Bike lovers watch out. Your babies are in danger if left out on the streets. Jack G. Beasley reports on bike theft in the "world' safest city."


When I first came to Japan some sixteen years ago, I was so happy to be living in the "world's safest city." So what has happened in the last few years to tarnish this image?

BIKERS TAKE WARNING: if you have a nice bike, Harley, Ducati, Japanese model or a 250cc scooter, LOCK AND CHAIN IT UP!

bikeThere is a wave of bike theft going on in Tokyo and other large cities in Japan, even in broad daylight. Someone wants your bike and is willing to go to any extremes to get it. From personal experience, I almost had my Harley taken right from under my nose one night. I was staying in Tokyo and had the bike parked on the street, just outside my window, locked with a padlock. In the morning I found that it was pushed back by some twenty meters, and had the padlock and frame lock holder scarred with the attempts of a bolt cutter being applied to cut the lock off. I was fortunate as four other bike owners on this block lost their bikes that night.

A friend of mine had his Harley parked outside his office window, and after working late one night went down to hop on his mighty HOG, but it was gone. Another friend had two of his bikes taken, one a Honda 1100 and the other a Yamaha 250 scooter. In all, the number of bikes that friends of mine have lost in the past year totals thirteen. All were not locked up. You don't have to have a high IQ to figure out that if you lock and chain your bike up at night, or at least lock it up during the day, that you will be able to ride home on it. (Don't use the little steering column lock as this is easy to break.) Enough said about what to do to prevent theft.

There are tons of bike locks on the market today. If you have a Harley, visit your dealer and he can help you out with some really neat, heavy-duty chains and locks, or go to Ueno and check out the bike shops for a wide selection of locks for all types of bikes.

lockHarley Davidson Japan has issued a warning to their owners about this problem and have a reasonable theft insurance program. There are a reported 240,000 bikes and scooters stolen each year in Japan; oddly enough this number has not changed in the past ten years and God knows how many other bikes have been put on ships for foreign ports unreported.

As far as the police are concerned, well, here are a few things owners of these bikes have to say:

"The cops don't give a damn. They just smiled and said it is happening all the time in that area, and my model was a prime target."

This guy had two stolen: "In one case my mechanic caught the kid, and we took him to the cops and he said that someone outside a pachinko parlor gave it to him, and the cops said, 'Well in that case there is nothing we can do.'"

bikeThis one is great! "I had my bike nicked from under my apartment. I reported it the next day to the police, who were completely uninterested - I got the feeling they view all bikers as bosozoku. A friend found it two weeks later out of gas with a jimmied ignition outside my local supermarket some 250 meters away. I reported it found to the police and had to fill out six forms so that if I got stopped riding my own bike I wouldn't be arrested. The amazing thing was that I had to pinpoint the exact position where it was found, which was less than 100 meters from the koban where I had reported it stolen. The cops didn't even know the supermarket's name - so much for keeping a finger on the local pulse!"

If you have had a bike stolen or want more information on the subject, you can go to a homepage dedicated to help stopping bike thefts.
299: Deuces are wild!
Harley-Davidson launch the new Softail Deuce
298: Chill Thrills
Snowmobiling, Japan's number one winter motor sport
297: The big guy at Gulliver
Hatori Kenichi, on what makes Gulliver International a giant among car dealerships
296: What a concept
What will technology allow car manufacturers to design in ten to twenty years?
295: Short and sweet
Subaru makes impressive progress
294: Practically Flawless
The new Toyota Celica
293: The 33rd Tokyo Motor Show
What you missed if you didn't go
292: NASCAR comes to Japan
Number one crowd drawing motor sport comes to Japan
291: Fall drives
Head for the hills and some colorful touring routes
290: Mazda on the move
Leading the field in environmental friendliness
289: Honda 1500 Valkyrie
Financial child's play
288: Off-road adventures
Escape to Mobility Park
287: Toyota's big friendly giant
Environmentally friendly Toyota Platz
286: Honda African Twin
Off-road spin on a getaway machine
285: Harley-Davidson
New engine takes Harley-Davidson racing into the new millennium
284: Ford Mustang Cobra
New version of an old American classic
283: Testing Times
Motorcycle shaken safety test
282: Drag Kings
Life for the drag race fan in Japan
281: Babysnatchers
Bike theft in the "world's safest city"
280: Honda S-2000
Cute car appeals to motor buffs and pedestrians alike