U.S. motorcycle thefts dropped a slim 1 percent in 2012

Publish Date: 
Nov 25, 2013
By Holly J. Wagner

DES PLAINES, Ill. - Four Japanese OEMs’ motorcycles were the most stolen bikes in the United States last year, with Harley-Davidson rounding out the top five in a year that saw motorcycle thefts decline overall by 1 percent.

A total of 46,061 motorcycles were reported stolen in 2012 compared with 46,667 reported stolen in 2011 – a decrease of 606 thefts or 1 percent, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB). The NICB report is based on National Crime Information Center (NCIC) motorcycle theft data for 2012.

American Honda Motor Co., Inc. had the highest reported thefts in 2012 with 9,082. In second place was Yamaha Motor Corp. with 7,517. Third was American Suzuki Motor Corp. (7,017), followed by Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A. (4,839) and Harley Davidson, Inc. (3,755).

More motorcycle thefts happened in California than any other state in 2012 with 6,082. Florida with 4,110 thefts, was second. Texas (3,400), North Carolina (2,574) and Indiana (2,334) complete the top five states.

Looking at the cities where motorcycle thefts were reported, New York, N.Y., was at the top of the list with 903 thefts. In second place was Las Vegas, Nev., with 757. San Diego, Calif., was third with 633. The fourth spot was held by Indianapolis, Ind., with 584 and in fifth was Miami, Fla., with 535.

Like riding habits, motorcycle thefts tend to follow the sun. Most thefts occurred during the summer months and the fewest during the winter. July had the highest number of reported thefts in 2012 with 5,529. August was next with 5,290 followed by June with 4,765. The fewest thefts were reported in February with 2,089 followed by January (2,481) and December (2,659).

While the recovery rate for motor vehicle thefts in 2012 was 53.9 percent, for motorcycles in that same year it was only 39 percent. If not quickly recovered, stolen motorcycles are often “chopped” and resold for parts. Others are kept intact and resold to unsuspecting buyers after attempts to alter their identification. Still others are hidden away for years and, on occasion, recovered as they are headed for export in shipping containers.

At the Port of Los Angeles recently, a 1953 Triumph motorcycle stolen more than 46 years ago from Omaha, Neb., was found in a shipping container destined for Japan. Officers with U.S. Customs and Border Protection Service at the port sought help from the NICB in tracking down the NCIC theft record that led to the original theft report taken by Omaha police in February 1967.

From the theft record, the original owner was found still living in Omaha. NICB posted a video of the man being reunited with his now-classic Triumph motorcycle on YouTube here.

Those with information concerning insurance fraud or vehicle theft can report it anonymously by calling toll-free 800-TEL-NICB (800-835-6422), texting keyword “fraud” to TIP411 (847411) or submitting a form on NICB’s website. Also available are via download is the NICB Fraud Tips app for an iPhone or Android device.