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Datatag's MASTER Security Scheme identification system is being used to protect mid-sized motorcycles from theft in the United Kingdom, while city police departments are considering use of the technology for smaller road bikes.

By Claire Swedberg

About five years after the Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA) launched its MASTER Security Scheme package for protecting motorcycles from theft in the United Kingdom, technology provider Datatag is now in conversations with numerous British police departments as they consider expanding the system to other vehicles, such as smaller motorized bikes. MASTER is an acronym for Motorcycles and Scooter Tagged Equipment Registration. The solution consists of multiple technologies, including two 125 KHz low-frequency (LF) RFID tags per motorcycle that can be interrogated to prove its authenticity and status.

Datatag first began providing its anti-theft solution to Yamaha during the 1990s. The technology is now also used in the construction industry, as well as for boating and other markets.

The motorcycle-based MASTER Security Scheme system has been adopted by the majority of U.K. motorcycle manufacturers on machines exceeding 125 cubic centimeters. The system is installed on all motorcycles pre-sale or pre-delivery by the dealer with the exception of Suzuki bikes, for which the system is installed during manufacture. It is aimed at providing a layered approach of identification and deterrence for thieves, so that fewer bikes will be stolen, and so that those stolen can more easily be identified. The system consists of RFID technology, as well as microscopic Datadots—disks with tiny identification tags etched on them, also known as microdots—as well as ultraviolet (UV) etching that can be detected via a UV lamp, and printed, tamper-evident warnings indicating the technology is present.

The MCIA, the United Kingdom's official association of motorcycle manufacturers and dealers, began looking into theft prevention solutions around 2012. At that time, approximately 26,000 motorcycles were being stolen annually—most of them midsized bikes less than three years old. The association recommended a technology-based solution for manufacturers that sell motorcycles based on advice from police regarding stolen vehicles. Datatag also offers a retrofit solution for owners to install on older machines.

The MASTER Security Scheme system was taken live in 2013, with 50,000 motorcycles tagged during that first year. Since that time, says Dave Luscombe, Datatag's strategic alliance manager, the incidence of theft has dropped from 2.8 percent of all motorcycles in 2012 to less than 1 percent this year. This makes MASTER Scheme-protected bikes six times less likely to be stolen, he says, and has made the recovery of stolen motorcycles three times more likely. This year, 42,254 new bikes came equipped with the technology between January and July, only 78 of which were stolen, according to Datatag. On the other hand, the company notes, of the 24,169 scooters and other motorcycles not equipped with the system, 285 were stolen.