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Easy Tips to Prevent Motorcycle Theft

    STEVENS POINT, Wis.--June 12, 2002--With another riding season underway, motorcycle riders will be hitting the highways, racetracks and rallies this summer. Unfortunately, all these places are prime targets for motorcycle theft.
    Bob Feinen, motorcycle theft and fraud specialist with Sentry Insurance, has a few commonsense tips for new and veteran riders. Feinen, an expert in motorcycle theft investigation and fraud, has worked in the motorcycle insurance field for more than 20 years.
    Throughout his Sentry Insurance career, Feinen has identified more than 300 stolen motorcycles and assisted in the recovery of more than $4 million worth of stolen motorcycle parts and accessories. He is a member of the Sturgis Police Department Bike Theft Unit for the annual Sturgis Bike Rally and a member of the annual Daytona Bike Week motorcycle theft unit.
    Feinen is not just an insurance expert, he is a long-time cycle enthusiast, who rides a Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic - Shriner's Edition.

    Feinen offers these tips to keep your cycle safe.

- Lock your ignition. Most cycle thefts occur when the ignition is shut off, but not locked.
- Lock the forks or disk brakes with large, brightly colored tags. The bright color will remind you to unlock your cycle and tell would-be thieves that your cycle is protected.
- If traveling with other riders, lock motorcycles together when not in use.
- If you are riding alone, lock your cycle to a secure, stationary object that can't be easily dismantled, such as a light pole.
- When traveling and spending the night at a hotel, locate outdoor security cameras and park your cycle in the cameras' view. If this is not possible, park your cycle close to your room. This allows you to hear if a burglar tampers with or starts your cycle.
- Keep an eye on your cycle. When parking at a public event, check your motorcycle periodically, especially immediately after leaving your cycle, to make sure there are no suspicious individuals lurking about. Thieves need only two minutes to steal your cycle. Don't give them the opportunity.
- Don't store your title in your cycle's storage compartment, tank bag or saddle bag. The safest place for your title is at home.
- Keep your cycle registration and insurance identification card on you when you ride. Should a theft occur, this quickly establishes you as the cycle owner and allows law enforcement to file a report immediately.

    If you use a trailer to transport your cycle, many of the same precautions apply.

- Park the trailer in a well-lit location near security cameras or in an area easily seen by restaurant, hotel or event staff.
- Lock the trailer doors and hitch.
- Secure doors by backing up to a wall, so there's not enough room for doors to be opened.
- Know your trailer identification number and license plate registration.

    Guard against theft when selling your cycle

- Don't turn over the title until you can verify the check or money order is valid and clears the bank.
- Using fake identities has become common in cycle thefts. Ask the buyer for his or her name, address, date of birth and driver's license number. Then ask to see the driver's license and check that the information given matches the license.
- Remember, it isn't necessary that a buyer receive the title right away. A written document signed by the seller and buyer indicating price and method of payment also indicates proof of purchase. The title can be forwarded to the buyer once the check has cleared the bank.
- If you decide to sell your cycle on consignment, do not provide a signed copy of the title to the dealership until you have received your money in full. Make sure the dealership is a reputable business before you trust them as an agent. Some dealerships with very little history have been selling motorcycles on consignment and keeping the money. When the dealership closes and files for bankruptcy, you are out a cycle and your money.

    Follow these commonsense tips as you hit the road and keep your cycle safe.

    Sentry's motorcycle policies are provided through Dairyland Insurance Company, Patriot General Insurance Company and, in Texas, Dairyland County Mutual Insurance Company of Texas.