You’ve already loaded your machine with replacement parts, snacks and drinks, and overnight gear. Anti-theft devices might be the last item you think about when packing for a trail ride. Yet, on average, 20,399 machines are stolen every year. This includes ATVs, UTVs, and golf carts, and one of them could be yours if you don’t take precautions.
ATVs and UTVs are obvious targets for thieves because of their small size. They can be rolled away with little racket, especially if there’s nothing stopping the thieves. Using ATV theft protection can be enough for them to look the other way.
Many of these devices are small and/or inexpensive—old-fashioned locks and electrical devices. It all depends on how much you’re willing to spend and how much security you want. You’ve already spent thousands, if not tens of thousands, of dollars on your side-by-side. Why not spend a few more bucks to gain some peace of mind when you step away?
Locks have been securing people’s treasures for a long time because, well, they work. Another key factor (pun intended) is that they’re inexpensive, versatile, and lightweight. The only issue is having too many keys from securing your truck, trailer, and UTV. Some people take the last few digits of the key and mark it on the lock, so it’s easy to figure out which key belongs to which lock.
Let’s take a look at some of the most popular lock solutions out there.
Using a cable and lock is pretty simple. It’s important to run the cable through the frame and onto something stuck in the ground. The vehicle’s frame is hard to cut through and will raise alarms if the thief tries to buy another one online, since it contains the VIN. And getting a new one would be too much hassle and money.
The disc lock bolts into place through the disc brake holes. It makes it difficult for people to roll your machine away or to ride it, since it would break the disc. Remember to remove the lock before you ride or you will break it yourself. Most disc locks come with a strap to attach to the handle to remind you it’s there. Just don’t be lazy and forget to use the strap.
Handlebar brake locks are convenient to carry wherever you go. They’re small in size and will fit into any backpack, pocket, or storage compartment. This lock wraps around the handle and front brake lever, so you can’t start the throttle.
The handlebar brake lock does not work with side-by-sides. It will fit most ATV grips, but double check the size. Most locks come with gaskets to fill in the gaps for smaller handles. Make sure someone can’t wiggle the lock off when they’re targeting your machine.
Wheel locks attach to the wheel, locking it in place. With the common yellow and orange design, these locks act more as a UTV theft deterrent rather than making it hard to steal. It still takes a few extra minutes to cut, so this lock might be enough to prevent theft. It’s also an important tool to secure your UTV from theft while it’s on your trailer.
When you’re out hitting the trails, this lock can be used on your trailer to keep it from being stolen.
Living in the 21st century comes with lots of perks, especially when it comes to security measures. Electronic devices offer a different kind of anti-theft protection with sound alarms and tracking.
Now, let’s check out some of the different kinds of electronic devices.
GPS trackers don’t stop thieves from stealing your UTV or ATV, but it makes the recovery process smoother after reporting to the police. You can tell them exactly where the person took your machine.
The tracker will send alerts directly to your phone or email. You choose how often you want the alerts sent, and it will send one when your machine starts moving. Some models will send alerts when the tracker is removed or there’s a low battery. Just make sure you keep it hidden, so that no one will remove it. The only disadvantage of GPS trackers is that they require a paid subscription.
Vibration alarms will sound if someone tries to roll away or drive your ORV, aka causing movement or vibration (hence the name). These alarms are easy to use. You press a button to set the alarm and another to disarm it.
The loud sound should alert you that someone is trying to take it and (hopefully) scare them away. To be extra cautious, it’s a good idea to hide the alarm on your machine since it can easily be cut.
Having a UTV anti-theft system built into your machine is still a revolutionary idea, even though most automotive vehicles have them. With so much power and finances sunk into UTVs and ATVs, you would think an alarm would be built in. We’re not quite there yet, but Polaris has taken the initiative by introducing their PIN Activated Security System (PASS) for the 2021 Polaris RZR PRO XP.
PASS is a four-digit code that you put into the Ride Command display to start your RZR’s engine—no subscription required. So far, it’s only available for the 2021 Polaris RZR PRO XP and their snowmobile lineup. Check your PRO XP settings for “require PIN to start.” If you don’t see this option, you can go to your Polaris dealer to get it installed.
PASS is nice to have as an extra precaution, since it signals to the people who have stolen your machine that this won’t be an easy win. The user gets 5 attempts before being locked out. If it’s you who forgot the PIN, you can call your local Polaris dealer to get the master PIN.
All the alarms and locks in the world still might not protect your off-road vehicle from theft. The old saying goes, “If they want it, they’re going to get it.” It takes merely minutes to pick a lock or cut through it.
For example, this South Carolina man went on a trail-riding vacation with his family. Everything was locked down while they slept in their hotel room. In the early morning, thieves stole the family’s truck, trailer, and ATVs—$50,000 worth of damages.
It’s a good idea to use a combination of these systems. Use an alarm and a disc lock. Even better, get a GPS tracker and a wheel lock. Using multiple methods can scare away the person who took your machine, because it wouldn’t be worth the risk. And if someone was able to loot your ATV, you could track it with the GPS.
Either way, always report your stolen machine to the police and have your VIN and receipt available.