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U.S. Motorcycle Thefts Decline Even as California Gains

Motorcycle thefts in the U.S. fell at a slower pace last year as declines in Texas and Florida were partially offset by an increase in California, the National Insurance Crime Bureau said.

There were 46,667 thefts in the U.S. last year, a decrease of 6 percent from 2010, even as motorcycle sales rose, according to a report released today by the Des Plaines, Illinois-based group. Thefts dropped 13 percent in 2009 and 11 percent in 2010.

California, the most populous U.S. state and the one with the most stolen motorcycles since the NICB began collecting data in 1996, retained its top spot with 5,927 thefts last year. It was followed by Texas and Florida. After at least four straight years of declining thefts, California motorcyclists saw 265 more thefts than in 2010.

“With the economy turning around and people actually taking more trips, using their bikes for commuting, there’s more exposure,” Imre Szauter, the owner of a 1998 BMW R1100RT and government-affairs manager for the Ohio-based American Motorcyclist Association, said in a phone interview before the report’s release. “Typically with more exposure, you would expect some increase in thefts.”

People in warm-weather areas ride their motorcycles more often, increasing the number of targets for thieves, Frank G. Scafidi, a spokesman for the NICB, said in a phone interview last week. Most parts of California received about half the normal annual rainfall last year, said Scott Sukup, a meteorologist based in Oxnard, California,.

Thefts in Texas last year declined 10 percent to 3,950 from a year earlier. In Florida, thefts fell 5.3 percent to 3,927.

July and August were the biggest months for thefts in the U.S. last year, with more than 5,000 each, compared with 2,147 in February, the report shows. U.S. thefts declined because of advances in technology, Scafidi said.

“Newer vehicles in cars and in motorcycles tend to have more secure features than ever before,” he said.

New York had 1,460 thefts in 2011, and New Jersey had 907. More than 500 motorcycle makes were among those stolen last year. Honda had the top spot with more than 11,000 motorcycles stolen, followed by Yamaha and Suzuki, the NICB said.

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