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Motorcycle Theft Rises Across the Nation

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on June 09, 2017 11:58 AM

Maybe it's because they get great gas mileage. Maybe it's because they're easier to access. Or maybe it's just because they look cool and thieves just want to feel the wind in their face.

For whatever reason, motorcycle thefts rose in 2016, up 2 percent over 2015. And while some of the numbers from the National Insurance Crime Bureau's latest report on motorcycle crime has some predictable numbers, like California leading the country in bike thefts, it also has some unexpected stats as well. Here's a look.

Get Your Motor Runnin...

Not surprising from the NICB's numbers? Nine of the top 10 cities for motorcycle thefts in 2016 are located in warmer climates where bikes are more likely to be purchased, ridden, and parked on the street for significant amounts of time. San Diego (849), Las Vegas (818), Los Angeles (760) San Francisco (616), Miami (610), Houston (607), San Antonio (411), Phoenix (347), and Austin, Texas, (343) were all in the top 10, surpassed only by New York City, which had 1,209 motorcycle thefts in 2016. And most of the thefts happened in August, with the least amount coming in February? Thanks, Mother Nature.

Also not a shock was California leading the way in motorcycle thefts per state. After all, it is home to three of the top five bike theft cities and 12 million more people than the next most populous state. More people means more motorcycle owners means more motorcycle thefts. Therefore it's no surprise that the next two largest states by population, Florida and Texas, rank third and second respectively on the bike theft list.

Head out on the Highway

What, perhaps, does make you raise an eyebrow in response to the NICB report is that rounding out the top five states on that list are South Carolina and North Carolina. So clearly population isn't everything in crime statistics. (The NCIB didn't break down its numbers in terms of thefts per population to thefts per motorcycle owner, which may have been more helpful.)

What also might have provided more context to the raw theft numbers would be some data on which brands were sold the most or owned the most per state and city. Simply noting that more Hondas were stolen than any other brand of motorcycle isn't that helpful without knowing whether there are just more Hondas on the road than any other brand, or whether they are, through some design flaw, more susceptible to theft.

This information would also be helpful in assessing the rate at which stolen bikes are recovered. As the Los Angeles Times reports:

The recovery rate for stolen bikes isn't encouraging, according to the NICB report. Only about 18,000 of the 46,467 motorcycles reported stolen in 2016 were returned to their owners. The NICB report didn't say what condition they were in when they came home. The recovery rate in California, however, was higher than the national average. About 42% of stolen bikes here found their way back to their owners.The New York rate, at 19%, was the lowest in the nation. (The highest: Hawaii, at 94%. It may be harder to hide a bike on an island than elsewhere.) By brand, Hondas were recovered at a higher rate than any other. Honda owners had about twice as good a chance of getting their bikes back than owners of Ducatis, which had only a 29% chance of coming home.

While more context for the NCIB's numbers would give a clearer picture of where, when, and why motorcycles are stolen, the reports tells owners all they need to know: Be on guard for theft, and do everything you can to deter and prevent criminals from stealing your bike.

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