21 Tips to Secure Your ATV from Theft

ATV security can be achieved with little just a little effort, and in some cases, only a little money.  You don’t need an armored vault in your garage just to keep your ATV safe.

Unfortunately, too many ATV owners either don’t worry about ATV security, thinking they don’t need it, or they avoid taking security measures because they think they will be too costly or time-consuming.

In reality, an ATV is more likely to get stolen than a car because it is a crime that is a lot easier to get away with since a stolen ATV can be hidden and/or disguised much easier than a stolen car.  Luckily, there are some simple steps you can take to protect your ATVs. How much money you are willing to spend on it is really up to you and the effort you want to make.

Securing Your ATV

  • Keep your ATV locked. Wherever you keep your ATV, make sure it is behind a locked door.  This could be in your garage, inside a locked shed or in a locked trailer.  
  • Don’t keep the ATV far from your house.  Having the ATV enclosed in a locked room that is connected to your house, such as a garage, is your best bet.  Even if your ATV is locked in an outdoor shed, if someone can break the lock and get it without waking you up, the deterrence level is too low.  So, if you have to keep it in an outdoor shed or in a trailer or something similar, you wan’t that location as close to your house as possible so that it is within your sight and hearing.  
  • Have a chain and lock system.  Wherever you store your ATV, have it locked with a chain.  This is really simple, but is going to go a long way in securing your ATV.  You need to be smart about how you chain up the ATV though. If you lock inside your shed around a 2 inch wooden pole, it will be easy to break that pole and take the ATV.  Also, make sure you are using a good quality lock and chain that isn’t going to be easy to break.
  • Look at getting ground anchors.  Ground anchors a pretty cool security tool that you can install in your garage or shed or wherever you store your ATV.  They are basically an Anchor bolted or concreted into the floor that have a connection for a chain and pad lock.
  • Put padlocks through the brake rotors.  This one only works if your ATV has drilled brake rotors, but if it does, this is an easy way to keep someone from being able to roll your ATV.  It is also a great method to use when you are camping or somewhere else where you can’t use your normal chain and lock system.
  • Get a dog.  I know I am not going to buy and take care of a dog just to guard my ATV, but if you are on the fence about getting a dog, this could help sway you.  If you are planning to get a dog anyway, maybe look for a dog that is likely to be a decent guard dog. If you already have a dog, keep it in a location where it is going to alert on someone trying to get away with your ATV.
  • Keep your ATV trailer safe.  It won’t do you much good to lock your ATVs in a trailer if someone can just hook up the trailer and drive away.  In fact, this is probably the easiest way to get your ATVs stolen. If you are going to keep your ATVs in the trailer, which let’s face it, is super convenient, it is best to keep your trailer locked in a garage.  If that is not an option, make sure the trailer is locked down very well so that someone cannot come by and break the locks or cut the chains and make off with the trailer. Also, don’t leave the towing gear on the trailer ready to attach.  While this may be convenient for your next trip, it is also convenient for a would-be thief.
  • Remove valve stems from tires when camping.  This may seem a bit extreme since it is going to leave you with flat tires, but if you have to leave your ATV unsecured at camp while you are away, the easiest way to prevent someone from rolling your ATV away is to remove the valve stems from two tires so they go flat.  Of course, you will want to make sure you have a convenient and fast-acting pump to fill the tires when you get back. Check out the awesome and fast pump we recommend on our Recommended Gear Page.
  • Remove a necessary fuse. Most ATVs have an electric starter so if you remove a fuse (and any extra stored fuses) to the starter, fuel pump or key switch, a would-be thief won’t be able to start the ATV to drive it away.  Of course, don’t forget to put the fuse back in before you try to start it yourself.
  • Lock both the ball and hitch of your trailer to your vehicle.  Just because the trailer is attached to your vehicle doesn’t mean someone can’t just take the trailer off your vehicle and attach it to theirs.  As mentioned above, stealing a trailer is probably the easiest way to steal an ATV. There are simple ways to lock down both the ball and the hitch so they cannot be disconnected from your car.  It is essential that you lock at both points as either one, if not locked, could remove the the trailer from your vehicle and be attached to a new one.
  • Park Strategically.  If you have your ATV in the back of your truck when travelling, or even on a trailer, there are some key precautions you can take.  In addition to securing it the best you can, make sure you park it somewhere visible. Another great tip is to back the truck or trailer up right against something solid like a wall or fence.  This way, people will not be able to back the ATV out of the truck bed or out of the trailer without moving the truck, which is a lot harder task.
  • Install a Car Alarm.  I personally hate car alarms.  99% of the time I hear them go off, the owner is nowhere in sight so I get stuck listening to the noise forever.  In our young and poor college days, we lived across the street from a used car dealership and some nights the alarms would go off all night and keep me from sleeping.  Even with that hatred, a car alarm can be a great idea if you keep your ATV in the back of a truck or in a trailer while you are travelling or camping. Someone trying to get an ATV out of a truck is going to set off the alarm, alerting you and most likely scaring the would-be thief away.  You can also install an alarm directly on the ATV if you want.
  • Install Well-Placed Security Cameras. Security cameras are so cheap now, it is worth installing one wherever you are storing your ATV.  You can pick up a decent wi-fi camera for $50. It may not stop someone from stealing your ATV, and the police may not be able to identify the people, but police are a lot more motivated to help if they have some evidence they can use as a starting point.  Video goes a long way with getting the investigation to actually happen.

Preparing for Loss

  • Call the Police.  This is obvious, but call the police right away.  The quicker they get on it, if you are lucky and they investigate, the more likely it is you can recover the ATV.
  • Install LoJack.  You can get LoJack in your ATV.  This is basically a tracking chip so that a stolen ATV can hopefully be located.
  • Insure your ATV.  If you want complete protection against theft, insurance is your only option.  Unfortunately, to get protection from theft, you will likely have to get a very comprehensive policy.  A typical policy that is going to cover theft of your ATV (in addition to property,bodily, medical, collision, and uninsured coverage) is likely going to run about $1,500 per year and come with a $200 deductible.  Because of this, you are going to need to to a cost-benefit analysis to determine if the cost is worth it to you. One important consideration is to look at the cost in just adding theft protection to what you would normally get because that may be less of a cost than you think.
  • Record your ATV’s VIN number.  If your ATV gets stolen and the police recover it, you have to be able to prove it is your ATV.  If you cannot prove it, you may be out of luck. Luckily, having the VIN number is an easy way to confirm the ATV recovered is, in fact, your ATV.  Another side benefit is that you can report a stolen ATV by VIN number, which could help track down your ATV anywhere in the country if the thief tries to resell it to someone that checks into the VIN number.  It is easy, and free, to check if an ATV has been reported stolen the VINCheck. https://www.nicb.org/how-we-help/vincheck
  • Record your engine’s serial number.  See all the reasons above about the VIN number.  The engine’s serial number can also be a big help, especially if the thief is sneaky and tries to sell off the parts.

Other Important Considerations

  • Keep your ATV in view.  Whether you are at an ATV race, camping or just out trail riding, keep your ATV in view.  This one seems pretty straight forward, but if you are somewhere where you are going to be riding your ATV off and on, you do not want to leave it where anybody could snag it.  Even without the key, someone can manage to make away with your ATV so if it is not going to be securely locked down, keep it in eyesight.
  • Avoid parading your ATV at home.  Whether it is washing your ATV, doing maintenance work or having fun in your neighborhood, you are advertizing to all who see that you have a fun and expensive toy available for the taking.  If you can, wash your ATV and do maintenance work in the garage or backyard, and avoid the temptation to act cool riding your ATV around the neighborhood.
  • Be careful about allowing test rides.  If you are selling your ATV, or just letting someone take it for a spin because you are a nice person, make sure you have adequate security they aren’t going to take off for good.  The easiest thing to do is make sure they leave their car behind. If they do leave their car behind, make sure you keep it under guard so they can’t sneak back and grab the car when you go inside to wait for their return.  Agree on a time they need to be back and call the police if they aren’t back within a reasonable amount of time after the agreed-upon time.

Most of these tips are all about using common sense.  If people don’t know you have an ATV, they aren’t going to try and steal it.  Likewise, if people can’t get easy access to your ATV, they are going to be less likely to try and steal it.  Finally, if someone does steal your ATV, you need to have a way to identify it and also want to have insurance money to soften the blow.

Brent Huntley

Brent Huntley is the owner of ATV Man and is responsible for almost all the material on the website. He also runs photographyandtravel.com and loves to travel and ride ATVs with his family. When he isn't playing, his day job consists of owning Huntley Law.

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