Knight in shining armour
I live in north Manchester and I’m a member of the Salford Knights Scooter Club. Over the past couple of years I’ve noticed the bike crime getting closer and closer to home. Last year a good mates’ scooter was stolen, just recently Jonah’s scooter was nicked and he tried in vain to get it back after ramming his own scooter, he was let down by the police. The other week another mate, Res had his nicked but he got his back, so when I heard about a grey Scomadi being thrashed about by scroates I tried to find the owner online.
I’d seen this scooter only last Friday before I went to the Slackers scooter do, so it was fresh on my mind. I always share about stolen scooters online and it’s a bugbear of mine when the owner isn’t found. First of all, I put about the scooter on a local community page, within 30 mins I had strangers telling me where it had been sighted, it shows that people care about these dickheads causing havoc. Within an hour I had a location, not five minutes from me, this was about 12 midnight, so I jumped in the van with a mallet at my side (never leave home without one, you never know if someone’s likely to be struggling with their tent pegs). I went to a nearby park and saw two scroates buzzing about on it. I knew I had the only entrance to this area covered so ran at them, they turned around and just dumped the scooter and bolted over a fence. I had the scooter safely in my van, so went home and got some sleep.
When I got up in the morning I looked at the scooter and its number plate was missing so I posted on Facebook in ‘The Scootering Community’ and on a couple of local club pages asking who’s it was. I messaged a couple of people who had Scomadis nicked recently but drew a blank, so I got in touch with Peter at Scootermoda in Preston, as I knew they were one of the main importers of Scomadi. They told me where to locate the serial number and from that, they informed me it was sold through Newport Scooter Centre only the year before, but the warranty hadn’t been registered so it may take some time to get the owners details from the sale records.
After that, I informed a local bobby who wanted to see the scooter, so I went and met with him and took him to see it where I’d dropped it off at a reputable local dealer for safe keeping. He told me the police would collect it on behalf of the owner, I insisted that I would deliver it back to the owner to save costs (I’ll come back to this later). I went home and had a missed call from Scooter Moda, they had located the owner and had his number, so I phoned him and left a message. About an hour after that the police said they had traced him and it was stolen from a gated community the week before in Manchester City Centre. I told them I had his number already and mentioned how in the scooter scene we work together and look after our own.
Within an hour I’d spoken to Jonathon, the bewildered owner of the Scomadi, who thought it would never be seen again. The main reason we couldn’t trace the owner is he had nothing at all to do with scootering and wasn’t even on Facebook, to him it was just a commuting bike. I let him know that I’d deliver it back tonight at no cost whatsoever.
The great police recovery con
If you’re unlucky enough to have a scooter (or any vehicle stolen) and it gets recovered, most owners end up being robbed again, this time by the police.
The police have, in most areas, joined forces (as they say) with recovery partners to cut down on the time taken to recover your vehicles, although what they don’t tell you is that the police get a kickback from every recovery they put the recovery companies on to. If your scooter is found the police are supposed to contact you and give you adequate time to recover your vehicle in your own way, unless it’s causing an obstruction in the road, pavement, or if they fear it may be stolen again.
The get out clause for the police is that due to divisional cuts they don’t have the manpower to look after the vehicle for a reasonable amount of time, which is a guideline of 90 minutes. Most of the time they will simply phone the recovery firm and bang, its £150 for you just to get your vehicle out again today, plus £50 for each additional day. Many folks won’t have the spare cash to cover the recovery and storage after having their pride and joy nicked.
Give PACE a chance
Then you have to get into the compound, trust me it’s easier seeing a mate in prison than getting in Edgertons in Manchester. When you finally get in you’re escorted to see the bike but you’re not allowed to take photos of it to see what costings you can come up with as there are vehicles under investigation in there. Most of the time we are led to believe that our insurers will cover the recovery bill and storage charges. Yes, they will, most probably after two weeks and this is where the third slap in the face comes in. If it was financially viable for your vehicle to be fixed before the storage charges and recovery were added on. After they’ve been added they will most probably categorise it as a write-off, as the fees can add up to another grand for them to pay out. This usually takes it over the ceiling cost for a viable repair. However, there is a get out clause. When your vehicle is recovered by the agent ask the police and get them to record that it’s for further investigation under the PACE Act, that means it’s the full responsibility of the police for the storage charges.
On the 14th of August, I returned the Scomadi to its owner. He was gutted as his insurance had run out just the week before it was stolen. It’s viable to fix the scooter up, the engine is running, it needs a side panel and floor runners, an exhaust bracket and exhaust, horncast and back wheel. If it was me I’d fix it and vinyl wrap it, but he hasn’t got the funds to do it. I was gutted for him really, as he is a nice bloke and bought me a bottle of Jack Daniels, but he’s putting the scooter up for sale, for spares or repairs. (update, it’s since been sold to a SLUK reader). I’m gutted for the bloke and I’m also gutted I didn’t get to test my mallet out on a scroates head.
The hotspots at the moment in Manchester are the Tameside area where it’s rife and in the city centre and M40 area to the east of the city. My advice, if you have a standard scooter that doesn’t stand out from the crowd, mark it everywhere inside and out in UV marker pen, put stickers under the panels little things and details like that can help it get back to you if it’s ever stolen. Keep your security up, even if you’re just nipping in a shop for a minute put a lock on but most of all if you’re not sure, ask your mates or the scooterists that have been around the block a bit on tips for keeping your pride and joy safe.
Words and photos: Howard
A police source told us “If you are unlucky enough to have your scoot nicked, when you report it to the police make sure you get the call handler to endorse the log with the fact that if the vehicle is found you want to recover it yourself and NOT have it recovered by the police or agents. What happens is, if that’s not on the report, rather than leaving it where it’s found and run the risk of it getting nicked again if insecure they get it lifted to the compound.”
Owner recovery only
“They may want it for possible forensics but they can come and do that on your own drive. As a scooter is open to the elements it doesn’t always count anyway, and even then if you don’t want forensics on it, they won’t do it. So it must be stressed on the call that if found notify the owner, and owner recovery only, the only problem being if you don’t answer your phone and it’s left in situ then it could get nicked again.”
If you’re planning to join together with other local riders to try and stop these scumbags don’t take the law into your own hands. Although what Howard (and Jonah) did in Manchester is admirable, both incidents could have had more serious consequences for our heroes. Going out armed is likely to get you into more trouble than the parasites we’re trying to stop, so think before you act. Also going out alone to tackle these thieves could put you in a very dangerous situation.
If possible join, or start a local Facebook group to share info. Some groups (Bristol for instance) have had a massive positive effect on local bike crime, they’ve legally recovered dozens of stolen machines and put fear into the toerags who commit the crimes. Social media makes it possible to share details and photos of a stolen bike, or sightings of one instantly to thousands of people. Remember though that all group members should be vetted to stop the information being shared to wrong ‘uns.
Keep ’em peeled
It’s amazing how brazenly these thieves will ride a stolen scooter in the area where it was stolen from, often not even changing the number plate. Within hours of it being reported the machine will be spotted and often photographed, although recovering them is not always as easy as you might think.
We can all do our bit to stop our own scooters being nicked by upping our security, always use a decent lock and chain to secure it. Try not to leave it parked in a vulnerable area if possible. If you are unfortunate enough to have one stolen share it around as many local Facebook groups as possible, local ‘Spotted’ pages, ‘Motorcycle theft’ pages, in fact any local interest type page is worth using.
Have you signed our SLUK petition? We want to increase deterrents to try and stop the theft and use of scooters by criminals. You can sign it here.
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