Motorcycle thefts rise nationwide — again — and California is the top state

Motorcycle thefts rose 2% from 2015 to 2016. Los Angeles was the fourth-most-plagued city, after New York, San Diego and Las Vegas, while Los Angeles County was the top county.
(National Insurance Crime Bureau)

Motorcycle thefts are on the rise, and California, for the second year in a row, is the top state for stolen bikes.

The annual theft report from the National Insurance Crime Bureau shows bike thefts rose 2% nationally in 2016. A total of 46,467 motorcycles were reported stolen, up from 45,555 in 2015.

A shocking number of them disappeared in California, where 7,506 motorcycles were reported taken — compared with 4,482 stolen in Florida and 3,692 in Texas, the next most troublesome territories.

Los Angeles was the fourth-most-plagued city, after New York, San Diego and Las Vegas, while Los Angeles County was the top county.

The NICB study revealed that the bulk of motorcycle thefts occur during the summer months, when more bikes are on the street and when more people enjoy riding.

August was the top month, when almost twice as many motorcycles were reported stolen than in December or January.

Not in California, though, where warmer weather allows for year-round riding and stealing. In the Golden State, thefts remain more or less constant through all four quarters.

Some bikes are more popular targets than others — or are simply easier to steal. Here are the top major brands whose bikes are most likely to be stolen; a disproportionate number are Japanese manufacturers.

  • Honda
  • Yamaha
  • Kawasaki
  • Suzuki
  • Harley-Davidson
  • KTM
  • Ducati
  • BMW

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.

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