Motorcycle thieves love Hondas

Overall theft rates have decreased, despite sales increase

Published: November 25, 2013 05:00 PM
2012 Honda NC700X
Photo: Honda

Motorcycle thefts in the United States edged down last year, with 46,061 bikes stolen in 2012, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB). This represents a one-percent decrease over 2011, despite sales rising by 3 percent to 452,386 motorcycles sold during the calendar year.

Among stolen bikes, Honda is clearly the favorite, with 9,082 thefts making up 20 percent of the total. Yamaha (16 percent), Suzuki (15 percent), and Kawasaki (11 percent) follow in this popularity contest. Notably Harley-Davidson accounted for just 8 percent of thefts, despite being the dominant brand in the United States. BMW and Victory notably accounted for less than one percent of thefts, with Ducati and Triumph at one percent.

The most popular stolen bike is identified as a 2007 Suzuki. All of the top 10 stolen bikes were from 2009 or prior, suggesting that owners of newer motorcycles, and possible more expensive motorcycles, may keep them in a safer place and be more likely to have modern anti-theft systems.

A concern for all riders should be that just 39 percent of the stolen bikes were recovered, with many being parted out and sold on the black market. Honda was the brand with the most recoveries.

Just like riding, motorcycle theft is a seasonal activity. The analysis found that thefts occur more frequently in warmer months. July and August are peak months, and January and February are the lowest for theft. (Read: "How to Prep Your Bike for Winter Storage.")

Know that it is no surprise that California (13 percent) and Florida (9 percent) have the top theft rates. New York City (903), Las Vegas (757), and San Diego (633) are the leading cities.

The latest facts and figures serve as a reminder for riders to keep their motorcycles safe, choose well-lit night-time parking when out, and lock the bike at night in an enclosed garage. Many higher-end motorcycles offer security systems, and they can be added to any motorcycle. This study didn’t explore the effects of such systems, but it does point to their appeal in concept.

For shoppers, be sure the check the title and history of a used motorcycle before purchasing, as many stolen bikes can be reassembled into "cloned" bikes that may appear legit. Be especially wary of any motorcycle described as "assembled."

 —Jeff Bartlett

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