Stop thieves: Crime prevention tips to protect your cars, bikes and motorcycles

Carmen Gonzalez Caldwell
Carmen Gonzalez Caldwell

Here’s some advice from a group of local crime prevention practitioners about protecting your cars, bicycles and motorcycles from theft:

Always lock your car doors (8 out of 10 cars are left unlocked). Be certain all windows are completely closed. When driving, keep all doors locked. It is best to park in attended lots. If you must leave a key with the attendant, leave only the ignition key. In all cases lock your car. At night, park only in well-lighted areas.

If you have a garage, the single lock on the door is inadequate to keep intruders from prying up the opposite side and crawling in. One of three methods may be used to secure the door:

▪ Add another bolt and padlock on the opposite side.

▪ Install a pair of cane bolts to the inside — only operable from the inside.

▪ Add a top center hasp (locking device), which any person of average height can operate. The hasp must be of hardened steel and installed with carriage bolts through the door or gate. Use large washers on the inside. After the nuts are secured, deface the threads of the bolt ends with a hammer to keep the nuts from being removed.

In every case, use a minimum standard exterior padlock. Don’t hide a key outside. Most hiding places are obvious to the burglar. Never leave a padlock unlocked. This is an invitation to have the padlock removed so that a key can be made, and the lock returned to its position. Later, the burglar returns when no one is home and enters at his leisure, using “his” key.


You don’t leave your car unlocked, so treat your bicycle the same way. Use an approved chain or padlock whenever you are not on the seat. Lock the bike to the garage, with a 3/8-inch x 6-inch eye screw fastened to a stud. The eye screw should be at least three feet above the floor, because this makes using a pry bar much more difficult.

Whenever you lock your bike in a public place, chain it to a secure rack or stanchion through the frame and a wheel. Keep the chain as high above the ground as the bike will allow. This reduces the leverage for a pry bar or bolt cutter attack.

Minimum standard for approved chain: Must be a least 5/16-inch hardened steel alloy. Links must be of continuous welded construction. Lighter chain, or chain with open links simply will not withstand bolt-cutting attacks. Using anything less will invite its theft. Don’t give your bicycle away.


These expensive bikes require additional security measures. They must be secured with a mated 3/8-inch hardened steel alloy chain and a padlock of equal strength. Sheathed cable has not proven to be a satisfactory deterrent to theft.


Good exterior lighting is important, particularly when the yard area is obscured by high, non-removable shrubbery. The best possible location for outside lights is under the eaves. This makes ground level assault more difficult. You can buy an inexpensive timer or photo-electric cell which will automatically turn the lights on a dusk and turn them off at dawn.

Carmen Caldwell is executive director of Citizens’ Crime Watch of Miami-Dade. Send feedback and news for this column to, or call her at 305-470-1670.