RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – If you drive a scooter in Richmond, you're going to want to take some extra security measures. Thieves are making off with bikes all over the city. So far this year, almost fifty have gone missing.
Greg Johnson doesn't mince words when describing the thieves who gave him a not-so-pleasant surprise Tuesday morning.
"Somebody got my scooter and they're pretty much scum of the earth as far as I'm concerned," he said.
His customized Honda scooter is worth about $4,000.
"I freak out," he recalled. "I look all over the yard, it's not there. I notice the back gate, which had been locked the night before is unlatched and my scooter is gone!"
Johnson is not alone. Two blocks away on the very same night, another scooter went missing. Those are just the latest victims!
Since the beginning of the month, we've learned thieves have taken 19 mopeds. That's almost half the total for the entire year.
Scoot Richmond owner Chelsea Lahmers isn't surprised
"Scooter theft always tends to pick up whenever weather gets nice, especially when you combine it with the high price of gas these days," she explained.
According to her database, quite a few bikes have been taken from fenced-in backyards. She warns owners not to be fooled; even on private property your moped is vulnerable.
Because of the thefts, Scoot Richmond has been forced to stock heavy duty chains. In their tests, bolt cutters won't break them. They are only the beginning of the now-necessary protection.
"Not only a lock, but also an alarm type thing, like a disc brake lock," Lahmers explained. "Just a small lock that fits onto the front brake of the scooter, that whenever the bike is moved or rolled or messed with, it's going to make a crazy noise."
For now, Lahmers is hoping her efforts with Richmond Police Department will make Johnson's warning a reality.
"Stop stealing people's scooters," he said. " You're going to get caught."
The 19 thefts are a sharp increase compared to this month last year when only eleven bikes were taken.
For the entire year so far, however, compared to 2010, moped thefts are actually down.