January 6 2015.

At the beginning of last year, the Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA), introduced the MASTER Security Scheme, the UK’s first national, official tagging scheme for new bikes. Now, thanks to a series of anti-theft initiatives by Westminster City Council, latest statistics indicate that, particularly in the area of St James’s Square in London, such security marking works and motorcycle thieves are avoiding the ‘protected’ area.

The Square was identified as one of four ‘hotspots’ for motorcycle theft by Westminster City Council, with around 52 motorcycles or scooters stolen each year from its parking bays - around one a week. £1 million worth of motorcycles, scooters and mopeds have been stolen from the whole of the City of Westminster since April 2014 - a total of 191.

Since September though, none have been taken from St James’s Square, as a result of a series of measures put in place by Westminster City Council through working in partnership with the Metropolitan Police and security marking specialists Datatag. This could be rolled out to other ‘hotspots’.

How this was done?
Westminster City Council and Datatag advertised a day in September to offer riders the chance to get their motorcycles security ‘tagged’ on site for just £50, including fitting. This resulted in a steady queue of riders taking advantage of the offer.

Tagging involves applying a combination of highly visible and hidden security markers, which deter thieves but also help the police recover vehicles if they are stolen. Fitting takes around 25 minutes to complete. The Metropolitan Police were also on hand to check the Police National Computer to make sure the bikes weren’t stolen in the first place. After the tagging took place, warning signs were put up to let thieves know that users of the parking bay had security marked their bikes.

Community Protection Officer for Westminster City Council Paul King, who has led on this project explained; “We are determined to reduce motorcycle theft in the City of Westminster and to give parking customers the best possible experience, which includes coming back to find your bike where you parked it. We have applied a combination of measures in partnership with the Metropolitan Police and Datatag, which alerts riders as to the risk and gives them the means to avoid them.

“We aim to repeat the opportunity for riders to have their motorcycles and scooters marked in the New Year for riders who use Berkeley Square parking, as we feel this provided a turning point in St James’s Square, which we would like to repeat for other theft ‘hot spots’ in the City.”

Steve Kenward, CEO of the MCIA, which invented the MASTER Security Scheme, says this concerted effort by Westminster City Council proves that marking works. “We are delighted to hear the part security marking is playing in eliminating theft in St James’s Square and applaud Westminster City Council’s systematic approach in dealing with it and would like to see other London councils making such an effort.”

Over 70,000 new motorcycles and scooters have now been protected and registered with the MASTER Security Scheme since January 2013.