It’s the height of the summer motorcycling season with hordes of machines on the road and the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota going full-tilt.
Yet over 4,000 motorcyclists will return to their parked bikes this month and find them stolen. Motorcycle thefts increased 7 percent from 2021 to 2022, marking another year of rising thefts, according to the NICB’s (National Insurance Crime Bureau) 2022 Vehicle Type Theft Report.
An average of 4,561 motorcycles were reported stolen each month in 2022. Thefts climbed steadily from a low of 2,879 in February, peaking in July at 6,394. Motorcycle thefts surpassed the monthly average during the warmer season from May through October.
Californians again led the pack in reporting the most motorcycle thefts with 9,838 stolen bikes in 2022, accounting for 30 percent of all motorcycle thefts in the United States. Reporting less than half of California’s total thefts, Florida’s and Texas’ riders experienced the second and third most motorcycle thefts during the same period with 4,563 and 4,145 reports, respectively.
The motorcycle “most likely to be stolen,” in case you were wondering, was Honda.
The top 10 states for motorcycle thefts made up 60 percent of the 54,736 motorcycle theft reports in the U.S. in 2022. As reports of stolen motorcycles rise, more than 40 percent are recovered thanks to the efforts of law enforcement agencies.The National Insurance Crime Bureau works with state and federal law enforcement agencies to target criminal organizations engaged in insurance fraud.
If someone really wants your motorcycle, they’ll get it. But bikers have to do their part as well. Here are some easy tips for any motorcyclist to follow to reduce the chances of their bike being stolen and experiencing the resulting anger, inconvenience, financial loss and loss of faith in humanity that often follows.
*Always lock your motorcycle, even when it’s in a closed garage – which should also be locked.
You’ve heard of “casing the joint,” right? Professional thieves do the same thing, often following motorcyclists home and noticing how the owner secures or doesn’t secure their vehicle. Many of them return at night or when the owner is at work, lift the garage door, grab the bike and just walk it out. Make it hard for thieves to do their job by locking both the garage door and the motorcycle. Consider installing an alarm and camera as well.
*Lock the motorcycle and take the keys even when you go in a store for just a few minutes.
You’d be surprised how many cars – and motorcycles – are stolen just because someone left the keys in the ignition. If the keys are in the ignition, it takes a thief less than 10 seconds to climb on, start it up and off he goes.
*Store the title in your home, not in the motorcycle’s storage compartment.
Your title is proof you own the motorcycle, so guard it carefully. If you get pulled over, you’re only required to show license, registration and proof of insurance, not the title.
*Customize your motorcycle to make it easier to identify
Pinstriping, custom components or other singular identifiers make it easier to recover your motorcycle rather than telling authortities “It was a black Road King.”
*Report the theft immediately if it’s stolen.
If your vehicle is stolen, call law enforcement and your insurer and report it immediately. NICB data shows that reporting a vehicle as soon as possible after it is stolen increases the chance of recovery.
*Don’t assume that you’re safe just because you’re at a rally
It’s not as common, but some professional thieves will attend rallies for the specific purpose of waiting until someone is careless with their motorcycle’s security and taking advantage of the trust riders might feel being around their brothers and sisters.
Ride safe. JM