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Officers from Police Scotland receive specialist training to recognise stolen marked motorcycles

8th August 2017

Police Scotland’s war on motorcycle theft has been boosted recently, with specialist training for police to spot stolen motorcycles.  Over 50 officers from across the force attended an in-depth training workshop showing them how to identify stolen motorcycles and scooters which are ‘tagged’ with the anti-theft MASTER Security Scheme.


MASTER, which stands for Motorcycle and Scooter Tagged Equipment Registration, is the UK’s only official and national scheme and since its launch in 2013 has been adopted by major motorcycle manufacturers.  There are now over 220,000 MASTER tagged machines and this number increases each year.  Tagging both deters thieves and makes securing a conviction easier.


The MASTER Security Scheme uses a sophisticated array of technology to mark the motorcycle's major component parts, providing a unique fingerprint.  This is a layered approach and involves using a combination of visible and concealed elements.  This includes hidden datadots, stealth etching and a number of radio frequency identification transponders, which are embedded into parts - similar to the technology that allows the chipping of cats and dogs. 


Operation Soteria is Police Scotland's (Edinburgh Division) response to the rise in motorcycle thefts and antisocial behaviour and the workshop will help equip police with the skills to quickly identify machines marked with the MASTER Scheme technologies.


The training


The training was delivered to over 50 officers drawn from across the Scottish force, including Roads Policing officers, Vehicle Crime Team officers, CID pro-active officers, Community Patrol officers, uniform response officers and Operation Soteria representatives.


Chief Inspector James Jones who is leading Operation Soteria said: 


“This training is vital in speeding up the process of being able to identify stolen vehicles.  Operation Soteria aims to reduce theft of motorcycles and the knock on effect of stolen vehicles being used for anti-social riding and is a significant priority for Police Scotland due to the dangers this poses to the public, the police and anti-social riders themselves.”


Industry comment


Steve Kenward, CEO of the UK’s Motorcycle Industry Association, which developed and introduced the MASTER Security Scheme, applauds Police Scotland for taking a proactive approach to motorcycle theft.


“We are delighted that Police Scotland is prioritising vehicle crime and making sure officers working at the sharp end are easily able to spot MASTER tagged bikes.  The number of MASTER tagged bikes will increase every year, so knowing what to look for and being able to confidently identify parts marked with MASTER technologies will become increasingly important as more and more bikes are protected by it.”


Facts about motorcycle theft


  • Many motorcycles are ‘cloned’, which involves being broken up into parts within hours of being stolen and reassembled onto legally acquired frames, which have log books.  This can net thieves thousands of pounds a day.**
  • 80% of these ‘cloned’ motorcycles find their way into the legitimate dealer network, therefore before the MASTER Scheme it was virtually impossible for dealers or the police to identify stolen parts.**
  • For those innocent people who unwittingly buy stolen vehicles and have their bikes seized by the police, 90% do not continue with motorcycling.**
  • 43% of all insurance pay outs are due to theft (according to MCIA research).

**(Facts and figures supplied by the Motorcycle Crime Reduction Group).

So how does MASTER work?

The combination of hidden elements (detailed above), along with the high visibility and the unique number on each tag, offer both peace of mind to consumers and help the police secure prosecution when recovering stolen motorcycles.  Police have access to the MASTER Security Scheme secure database 24 hours a day.

The MASTER Scheme system includes a highly visible ultra-destruct identification/warning label that is fixed in a prominent place on the bike, alerting potential thieves to the fact that it is marked and registered.  If the label is tampered with it disintegrates. If the label is missing from models from participating manufacturers alarm bells will ring for police and subsequent owners.

All motorcycles and scooters from participating manufacturers are registered on MASTER Security Schemes’ national secure database.  This is updated continuously, which means the reporting of stolen vehicles is immediate.

The MASTER Security Scheme is similar to a scheme which reduced the theft of construction and farm machinery – the Cesar scheme.  This has been hugely successful with 100% success rate of prosecution, where machinery has been tagged.

The cost of a bike registered with the MASTER Security Scheme is absorbed by the manufacturer, so there is no extra cost to the consumer.




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