How do I secure my moped so it's accessible AND theft-proof?
March 2, 2012 1:04 PM   Subscribe

I have a moped I would like to use on a regular basis to commute to and from school. My issue is storage. Right now it is stored inside in the back of my (first floor) apartment and it is difficult to lug outside and back in. Ideally I'd put it outside, but I live in an area where I'm extremely concerned about the possibility of it being stolen. What to do?

Current storage solution:
Back of first floor apartment in a split rowhouse. Taking it outside requires wheeling it through apartment, out apartment door and out front door, then carrying it down a flight of stairs to the street. Other complications include two cats--the hallway from my apartment to house front door is small enough that I need to keep both doors open to get the moped out, and cats keep trying to get out. Which means to ride moped I also need to stop halfway in the apartment, herd cats into another room, get moped out, then come back inside and let cats out. The moped is approximately 250-300#, so while it's light enough that I can move it around it's not so light that this whole process isn't a pain in the ass.

Current security measures:
I have a crazy hex chain and lock (OnGuard Beast) that I trust for on-campus security. But at home I don't want to leave the moped on the street or on the porch overnight in my area, it's too long at night for people to figure out ways to get it (and there has already been significant interest in the neighborhood about my bike).

So, anyone have ideas on how to better secure this to make it easily accessible AND not get it stolen? Do motorcycle covers work for this or are they just for protection from the elements? It would be nice to find a garage, but I haven't had any luck finding one in my area (West Philadelphia) that's anywhere walkable.

I asked on a couple moped forums, the answers were:
"Keep it inside and don't commute"
"Resign to it eventually getting stolen and eat what you paid for it."
posted by schroedinger to Travel & Transportation (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Two things occur to me that might be impossible due to physical constraints.
1) Build some kind of mini-garage-like structure on the porch that the moped can be wheeled into. Paint it so that it blends into the porch/house and put a door on it with a heavy, built-in lock. If you are not handy, you could hire someone to do this for you. Ideally it would be attached to the structure of the porch/house, but if you are renting it could be free-standing.
2) Do you have access to the back of the building at all, where there might not be as much foot traffic? Just locking it up off the street might be enough, as long as it is out of the way.
posted by Rock Steady at 1:12 PM on March 2, 2012

Could you insure it against theft or damage?
posted by smitt at 1:24 PM on March 2, 2012

Porch is good... get the landlord's permission to install a beefy eye-bolt or ground anchor someplace out-of-the-way, and chain it to that.

A motorcycle cover with grommets for a cable-lock is also good - for another reason I'll bring up shortly.

Even if you can't get an anchor installed, you're still OK. People will sneak up onto a porch, but it's not like they're as brazen as they would be if it's on the sidewalk. Get another chain to lock the wheels to the frame, or a disc-lock if you have disc brakes.

Finally, get a motorcycle alarm. A loud one with a pager. No-need to confront the thieves, just toss open a window and shout, "Hey! My bike!" or "The cops are coming!"

To steal your bike, they would need to cut the chains, cut the cable securing the cover in place, and then find and disable the alarm. Thieves aren't going to bother with all of that for a moped.
posted by Slap*Happy at 1:40 PM on March 2, 2012

I'm sure you know this, but as a general note to those reading, no you can't insure mopeds/scooters against thefts (I've tried). I agree with you, OP, that leaving it on the street in W Philly is a problem. Frankly, there is not a good solution for this. The cover I don't think would help and is a PITA. If you can park it off-street that is better than on the street, definitely. I'm not sure why the porch is such a bad plan? Perhaps around the side of the porch there is an area you could put it that is a little more obscured or that maybe has a post or something you could lock it to with a cable-type lock? If you could install a post of some kind, that would work. And do you have a wheel lock? Those are a pain to get off without the key and make it so your bike can't be wheeled away (also they are small and convenient). Is there somewhere cars park on the property you live on? Can you kind of hide it behind the cars? You could also take the more drastic step of roughing it up a little - maybe some matte spray paint. A kind of crappy looking scooter is less appealing than a shiny new one.
posted by annie o at 1:45 PM on March 2, 2012

I live in a rowhouse apartment in a series of rowhouses. No garage, no parking except on the street, and unfortunately the only entrance and exit to the backyard is through a cellar door in the basement. No possibility of building anything, either. The porch is open to the street and the floor is made of wood and not in great shape (landlady is planning on replacing it), so a ground anchor isn't a great idea there.

To give a better idea of my area: I live directly across a house that is clearly a central location for drug trafficking. There was a shootout outside my porch last week and it took the cops a half-hour to come--I know because I was the one who called them. So I would need serious protection to make street parking/porch parking a good option (unless I can befriend the drug dealers, I guess then they'd probably make sure nobody takes it).
posted by schroedinger at 1:54 PM on March 2, 2012

Sorry, to be more specific, there isn't a side porch or anything, my porch lies directly against the porch of the houses on either side of me, so anyone can pretty much walk up and grab stuff if they feel like it.
posted by schroedinger at 1:55 PM on March 2, 2012

I get what you're saying, but I still think on the porch will be less appealing than on the street... it sort of proclaims ownership. The street seems more like fair game. If there is any sort of bar or railing you can lock it to, that's even better. I don't know if your rowhouse has a little front yard like some do, but parking it in there under a gross looking cover might be an option. Actually, thinking about it, I suspect this might be your best option. Put it on the porch, get a gross looking tarp and kind of tie it on randomly/to the porch. Make it look like old lawn furniture under a tarp or something. Not sure the drug guys are going to be looking too closely at a gross old tarp.

Otherwise, I don't really know what you can do. When I talked to the insurance companies about this, they were just, like "sorry, man". You're pretty much looking at deterrents. You really can't STOP someone from stealing it if they really want to.
posted by annie o at 2:13 PM on March 2, 2012

I'm going to go with what the moped forum people said. You have a valuable object and live in a high-crime area. As you suspect, leaving it in one place outside is going to eventually attract a thief with an angle grinder to cut whatever lock you put on it.

If you can't find a garage, you're out of luck. What about switching to something you can more easily carry inside, like a bicycle?
posted by zippy at 2:51 PM on March 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

Some thoughts:

Is there any other way to gain access to the back yard? If you have a wooden fence, could you put a locking gate on it at your own expense?

Would it be possible to help your landlady out with re-doing the porch immediately and finding a way to secure the bike under cover, as Slap*Happy said?

Is there anyway to build a storage garage alongside the stairs, anchor it down, and equip it with an alarm?

Is there enough room between the front door and the apartment door to leave it there and still negotiate around it in the daytime?

If you ride it every day, could you leave it in the front room of the apartment and only move it to the back on weekends? Call it Moped art. Cover it with a cloth or something.

posted by BlueHorse at 3:19 PM on March 2, 2012

OK, last comment, hope I'm not thread-sitting too much.

Bicycle was my first choice before the moped, but it's feasible given the length of my commute and the amount of time I can devote to my commute.

My top choice would be a garage rental if I could find one, but Craigslist hasn't been much help.
posted by schroedinger at 3:23 PM on March 2, 2012

cellar door? Maybe get a skinny ramp that folks use to load motorbikes into pickup trucks?

Or reconnoiter 2 or 3 blocks around your neighborhood, is there a 24 hr business or a place with a conspicuous security camera, or anything where you might pay a small rent to park there safely? Prolly won't work out, but might be worth a look and an ask.
posted by at at 3:43 PM on March 2, 2012

Sorry, I agree with the moped forum people (and zippy), too.

If you're determined to keep the moped though, try branching out from Craigslist. Take a walk around your neighborhood and if you see someone out gardening or walking their dog or something, ask them if they know anyone who'd be willing to rent garage space for your moped. But personally, the drug dealing across the street would be enough to convince me to move, moped or not.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 4:21 PM on March 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

This is definitely a tough situation. One thing that urban dwellers do sometimes is camouflage their bikes to make them look derelict and not worth stealing or even vandalizing.

For about $20 at your local art supply store you can get what you need to make that bike look like a total POS. Don't forget to hang some stray wires out of or around the engine.

I know, that's a last-ditch effort but tough circumstances require tough measures.

Best of luck to you!
posted by snsranch at 5:37 PM on March 2, 2012

Yeah, I think your best bet might be finding someplace you can store it even if it's non-traditional. Where do the cabbies go for gas? A garage like that would have activity 24-7, and would probably be big enough to be able to store the bike in an out of the way corner. Plus it won't look out of place. Worth a shot.
posted by Diablevert at 7:02 PM on March 2, 2012

Alarm, locking cover, and screwing an anchor or eye-bolt to the porch will be enough for a moped. The point isn't to make it theft-proof, just to make it too much of a hassle for the average moped theif to go through. If they were into hassle, they wouldn't be thieves. The Napoleons of Crime will be saving their skills for Harleys, which they can part-out with no hassle to the tune of ten grand per bike.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:57 PM on March 2, 2012

Also, what about making it easier to lug it in and out of the first floor? Get a board you can use as a temporary ramp when you want to bring it inside. Though it may be unsafe to bring a hot gasoline engine into an apartment.
posted by zippy at 10:15 AM on March 3, 2012

I had a moped locked in front of my south philly rowhouse for about 5 years before I sold it. While someone did try and mess with it a couple of times, I was completely unworried about it being stolen. I used the Kryptonite scaryass giant chain lock, which - and this is the important part - I changed to the electrical conduit running down the front of my house. I also used a cover, which I think made a big difference. The one summer I left the cover off was the only time anyone messed with it. The cover I used had grommets and little bungees on the bottom, so you could hook the cover to the wheel spokes and generally make it a giant pain in the ass to try and remove inconspicuously.
The lock chain I also threaded through the back wheel spokes, which makes it impossible to roll the bike away even if they managed to get the bike/chain combo off of whatever it was chained to (like if you chained it to the porch rails and they sawed through the rails). I'd also stick a webcam in the front window pointing at it to observe any activity to see if these measures are adequate.
Personally, I'd put it on the porch, thread the chain through whatever porch part is most sturdy. Then, just to be an ass, I'd also thread a second chain through a cinderblock.
posted by 8dot3 at 7:01 AM on March 5, 2012

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