Motorcycle Theft Rises First Time in Decade; California Targeted

  • More than 45,000 bikes stolen in 2015, a 6% increase from 2014
  • August is most common month for theft, February has fewest

Motorcycle theft increased in 2015 for the first time in 10 years as criminals in warm-weather states looked for vehicles that are easier to sneak away than cars.

There were 45,555 motorcycles reported stolen in 2015 in the U.S., up 6.3 percent from the previous year, the National Insurance Crime Bureau said in a report Thursday. California remained the leader in bike thefts, with the crimes climbing 14 percent to more than 7,000.

Vehicle theft had been declining for years in the U.S., partly because of improved deterrence devices for automobiles. Still, car theft may also be on the rise, according to preliminary data, said Frank Scafidi, spokesman for the NICB. And criminals can find it simpler to disappear with two-wheeled vehicles.

“There’s a whole bunch of tips that really don’t do a whole lot about preventing theft,” he said. “Motorcycles are smaller than cars, so they’re a lot easier to just, literally, pick them up, throw them in the back of a pick-up, and you’re gone.”

About one of every six motorcycle thefts in the U.S. is in California. The state’s vast network of roads, large population and climate make it attractive to both cyclists and criminals year-round. Florida came in second, with 4,758 stolen bikes, followed by Texas and South Carolina.

Warm Weather

“Nobody has ever caught California,” Scafidi said. “There are more vehicles registered in this state, by far, than anywhere else in the nation. And, generally, the weather is pretty decent, so the environment for that kind of activity is good most of the year as opposed to other parts of the country where even the thieves don’t want to go out in sub-zero weather.”

August is the most common month for motorcycle thefts in the U.S., followed by July. February and January have the fewest.

The NICB is a not-for-profit organization funded by insurers. The Des Plaines, Illinois-based bureau seeks to prevent insurance fraud and other crimes. A brochure on avoiding motorcycle theft on the NICB website suggests using security devices like locks and alarms to deter thieves.

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