If you're one of the unlucky ones then you know the feeling well.

You ran inside for just a minute. Maybe even less than that. It doesn't matter. When you returned to the garage, it was gone.

Your dirt bike. Stolen.

That's how it happens a lot. Other times, thieves rip it right off the back of your truck. We've heard about $10,000 dirt bikes jacked from the back of a pickup truck, at the track, in broad day light. Sometimes owners get lucky finding their dirt bike but maybe minus the rear wheel and the gearing. Most people aren't so lucky.

All that's left in the back of this truck after the dirt bike was stolen

In many cases, the thief wants parts. Often an unsecured dirt bike equals a free dirt bike or at least a joy ride. Getting it back is unlikely and getting it back in one piece and in good condition is extremely unlikely. Recovered bikes look haggard from the joy ride, sometimes spray painted and all identifying graphics torn off.

Like your car or any other valuable thieves easily steal if left unsecured, make it a priority to lock your dirt bike. Unlike a car though, a dirt bike doesn't have a key. And until technology finds a way to "match" your kickstart "footprint" to your bike, anyone can ride off with your dirt bike.

What a dirt bike often looks after police find it

Dirt Bike Theft Prevention

Here are some dirt bike theft prevention tips to keep you from becoming a victim.

1. Never let your dirt bike out of sight

This rule, of course, applies when your bike remains unlocked. That means when loading it on the truck or trailer don't lose sight of it unless you lock it down. When cleaning or taking care of maintenance in the garage, don't run inside to answer the phone or get a snack unless you close the garage door. Thieves work meticulously with patience. If they want your bike they'll wait you out. Don't give them the chance.

2. Lock it up!

Lock your dirt bike on the trailer, in the back of the truck, even in your garage. Wherever your dirt bike sits stationary for a long period of time without you sitting on it or having eyes on it, lock it up. Don't get chintzy locks either. Get big, beefy cable locks like this one from Abus.

Less expensive locks like this cable lock and Xena disc locks make good choices. We'd recommend keeping these or any locks on all the time. It's pretty hard to keep your dirt bike hobby a secret and word quickly gets around who has what and where it's kept.

Here's the reality - if a thief wants your bike no amount of security works. With time and the right tools, any lock becomes unlocked. Reduce the time factor and offer enough of a deterrent to tell the thief to move on.

3. Get a Moto Van

Granted this may not be an option for everyone, considering the money already invested in your dirt bike, but a Moto Van (or Sprinter Van) even a pickup truck with canopy, offers a great way to keep your dirt bike safe. But even though you lock it safely inside, still add the additional protection of a cable lock, because vans get broken into all the time. Again the idea here is time and deterrence. If a thief has spent five minutes jimmying the van's lock open or made noise by smashing a window, then confronted with cable locks - they'll hopefully give up.

Also, if you stash your bikes in a Moto Van or on the back of your truck don't forget to lock your four-wheel ride up either. Check this out - a friend of a MotoSport employee had his truck stolen with the bikes in the back. The thieves burned the truck to the ground before taking off with the bikes.

4. Be Vigilant

There's no need to be paranoid but vigilance matters. Sure, locking up your bike every single time is a pain, but really what's a minute? When not riding, always keep an eye on your bike. If someone looks suspicious or just lurking around the parking lot at the track let the officials there know.

5. Get Insurance

No, insurance doesn't prevent a bike theft but it does offer peace of mind. A dirt bike investment easily tops thousands of dollars for a used ride and can quickly hit five figures. Insure the bike for theft and if the worst case scenario happens, at least you can start over with help from insurance money.

Always keep the paperwork on your bike and know the VIN. If you don't know where to locate the VIN check out our How to Read and Check Your Motorcycle or ATV VIN. In the event someone steals your dirt bike, you'll want to provide law enforcement all necessary information to help them recover your bike.

Lastly, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau the recovery rate on stolen motorcycles (unable to find data on dirt bikes) was only 25 to 30 percent. So, it's a good idea to check out Craigslist, daily, if your dirt bike winds up in the wrong hands. You just may find it for sale.