Safeguard your mo-ped: Thieves love fuel-saving rides; police take action, offer tips
With fuel prices remaining high, mo-peds are an attractive alternative to cars for the budget-minded, but they also have become targets for thieves.
Since June, 39 mo-peds were reported stolen in the city, Charleston Police Sgt. Trisha Taylor said.
She described it as a significant uptick.
So significant, the department plans to deploy decoy mo-peds in an effort to catch would-be mo-ped thieves in action.
Mo-peds are cycles with motors and some have pedals. They require no driver's license. By state law, they are not permitted to go more than 30 mph.
"They are very easy to hot-wire and the majority of people who have them don't have a secure place to keep them," Taylor said.
They also are easy to disassemble, she said. Investigators think some of them are being broken up and sold for scrap.
Some people try locking their mo-peds with bicycle chains but thieves cut right through them, Taylor said.
"Just chaining it up isn't working."
Taylor, a detective who supervises the department's white-collar, auto-theft and Internet crime investigators, urges mo-ped owners to use an anti-theft device known as a disc-lock.
"They cost $79 to $89 and they are locked onto the front wheel," she said. "When someone tampers with it, a 120-decibel alarm goes off."
She said the disc locks are available on the Internet. Moped Medic, a mo-ped dealer and repair shop on Savannah Highway, also will carry them, Taylor said.
Of the 39 mo-peds stolen since June, 19 have been recovered, but the owners had to put up with the inconvenience of losing their means of transportation.
"They wake up to go to school or work and their vehicle is gone," she said. "Even though the dollar amount is much less significant than with a car, I don't think there's any less heartache."
Moped Medic will loan the police department a number of mo-peds to be used as decoys, Taylor said.
"Hopefully, this will prevent a lot of thefts," said George Merriweather, manager of Moped Medic. He and the owner, Marcia Baez, want to do anything they can to help police deter mo-ped thefts, Merriweather said.
"We would like to see people feel confident that if they buy a mo-ped, they're going to be able to keep it."