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Common Tread

NICB report: Motorcycle thefts down, but hotspots remain

Jun 07, 2018

The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) releases reports on motorcycle thefts and recoveries, and they’ve just put out their most recent numbers.

There’s some good news, some bad, and a whole lot of data that just makes me want to invest in a better motorcycle lock.

Using data pulled from the National Crime Information Center, the NICB found that motorcycle theft is down five percent from the previous study, and happily at its lowest since 2014. Still, the NCIC recorded 44,268 stolen motorcycles for the year. That’s almost enough to fill all the seats in the Carrier Dome with victims of motorcycle theft.

The Carrier Dome could hold many angry people. Uh, go Orange? image

Depressing, but there’s a silver lining: 18,553 (42 percent!) of those motorcycles were recovered in the time covered by this report, and that number will only go up (if slowly) over time. GPS trackers, social media, and other tactics give victims a fighting chance against today's thieves.

By the numbers

Keep in mind, all these figures are for reported thefts. Many stolen motorcycles go unreported for various reasons. 

The worst state for grand theft moto? No surprise, it’s California (7,532 thefts), also home to the largest number of riders in the country. Florida (4,323) takes the number-two spot, followed by Texas (3,525), South Carolina (1,732), and North Carolina (1,632). The safest states are typically those with shorter riding seasons, away from the coast. After all, it's tough to connect means, motive, and opportunity when hardly anyone's riding and it's cold outside.

Breaking it down by cities, New York is the worst with 980 thefts for the year, but that's actually 19 percent better than the year before. Besides, that's nothing compared to London these days. San Diego (846) and Los Angeles (833) follow, each probably losing a Harley and a cafe racer every day.

Thefts ranked by city. New York, I love you, but you're bringing me down. NICB image.

As manufacturers go, Honda has the dubious honor of being the most stolen marque in the United States, with 8,781 disappeared. Yamaha’s close behind at 7,298, then Suzuki (5,530), with Harley and Kawasaki roughly tied in the low 5,000s.

Thefts ranked by make. Astronautical Bashan? Also called Chongqing, they make Chinese import bikes and scooters. NICB image.

The worst case scenario

Put all this together and you get the Most Tempting Motorcycle in America. It’s a Honda in California (specifically Los Angeles County) that road trips to NYC in July or August, the hottest (and hottest) months. Sorry, bud. Do what you can to deter thieves, and make sure your insurance is up to the task. Although motorcycle types were not included in this report, findings from similar research suggests supersport motorcycles are the most desirable to thieves, as they're worth big money in parts. So keep a close eye on that Cali-plated CBR, and maybe consider trading it in on a Triumph.

The best case scenario

Live in Maine or Vermont. Ride whatever you want. They’re tied with 27 thefts each, a third of which were recovered!

NCIB theft statistics
2017 motorcycle theft by state. Go north, avoid coastline, and you'll be good. NICB image.

If you’d like to read more, the report and infographic are available for download.