When I used to work at a power sports dealership, I would get many stories on people who had their ATVs stolen. Nothing worse than hearing how the thieves just run off with people’s machines.
I understand the feeling, as I’ve also had several stolen from me. Through much trial and error, and by learning from others’ experiences, I’ve compiled a list. This list represents what I believe to be the most effective methods for protecting your ATV or even Side by Side from theft.
What You Should Do First
What you should do first is get some insurance. It’s just plain stupid to not have insurance on your ATV, especially if you have had one stolen from you in the past.
Everyone is going to pay different prices for their insurance coverage, but I paid around $350 a year, and I consider that to be well worth it.
ATV Locks and Chain
The oldest and really the best method is to simply lock the ATV up with a chain and a lock. How much protection you want depends on how much you’re willing to spend.
A simple chain and a simple lock will be “simple” to break. So that Master Lock and simple chain from the local hardware store is not going to cut it, you need specialty chains and locks that actually work. This is why you don’t buy locks at your local department store.
What you want is a hardened steel chain such as this one here (ad). Do not use just any old chain you can buy at department stores as it can be cut easily with bolt cutters. You want a hardened thick chain of at least 3/8th.
Then you want a good lock, the stuff you buy at Walmart and other department stores will not cut it. I consider any American Lock 700 series of locks to be the best. For example, the American Lock A700D (ad) is what I use, and this video below does a great job of explaining why I love it.
You got to make sure you run the cable through something secure like the frame of your quad. Also, make sure to secure the other end to something that is stuck in the ground or something large like a building.
Apple AirTag Tracking
If you have an iPhone, you should really consider getting an AirTag.
They’re super affordable, just check the AirTags here (ad).
You can place it somewhere hidden on your ATV or Side By Side and if someone steals it you can track it down. The battery life is good for about a year and every time another iPhone walks near your AirTag it updates its location.
People are using AirTags to track down their stolen property and with how affordable they are, having one hidden just makes sense. Here is a video of someone locating their stolen property using an AirTag.
So what if you’re somewhere that you can’t wrap a chain or cable around your ATV? The next best options are the things that make it difficult for thieves to steal.
One option is to take a wheel or two off the ATV. No one wants to steal a heavy machine with only two wheels on it.
Another option is to use a Tire Clamp. If you don’t want to take the wheel off then you can clamp on a Tire Clamp. This keeps the wheel from spinning which makes it harder to drive off with the machine. Still not fully bulletproof, but super inconvenient for the thieves.
A handlebar lock (ad) is another option. This clamps onto the handlebars and squeezes the brake lever closed, so it also is a kind of parking brake. This keeps the wheels from spinning because the brake is applied and only a key can release the clamp. I really like using this style lock as it is quick and easy to carry around with me when I go to all the different trails.
Don’t Forget The Trailer
A lot of people forget about the trailer they use to haul the ATV around and lock it down.
I’ve seen people lock up an ATV and not the trailer, but the fool had the ATV on the trailer. So all he did was make it easy to back up to the trailer and drive off with the ATV.
What you want to do is use a coupler lock this here (ad) on the trailer so that people can’t hook it up and drive off. This type of lock is just enough of a deterrent that it’s worth having as this video shows.
Even better is to use the heavy-duty chain and an American Lock 700 series lock as talked about earlier and attach it to something stuck in the ground or a large building.
Why Do People Steal ATV’s?
The biggest reason why people will want to steal an ATV is that many states don’t require you to register them. So once it’s stolen, they can just remove the VIN and no one is none the wiser.
Also, they can take them apart and sell the parts. This is not as common and many of the thieves like to just sell the whole ATV to unexpecting buyers. When the buyer brings the machine in for some type of service, many dealerships run the VIN and find the machine as stolen and the buyer gets in trouble.
Many manufacturers have gotten smart like Can-AM as they use digital keys that can only be programmed at the dealership. These keys keep people from jamming a screwdriver in the socket or “hot wiring”.
What’s funny is that thieves will remove the VIN from the frame but it’s pointless as most ATVs today have computers in them and they have the VIN stored and can be read by the dealership. Not only that, but they have many computers and each computer often has the VIN stored in them too.