Bike theft: How bad is it?

Bike theft: How bad is it?

Posted by Ben Baker on May 16th 2016

Since bikers have little way to secure our rides when parked away from home, theft has got to be a worry.

Yes, we can lock things down. Bolt cutters make short work of even hardened steel, so a tire boot is not a lot of help.

We can lock the steering. But three big guys can pick up almost every ride and put it in the back of a pickup. For some of the bigger bikes, four guys can lift it.

But really, how bad is bike theft? Like a lot of things, it depends on where you live and the time. The National Insurance Crime Bureau has a report on this. Note - This link drops a PDF file into your computer. Get the report.

Here’s part of their findings, “Overall, there were a total of 45,555 motorcycle thefts in the U.S. in 2015. From 2014 to 2015, motorcycle thefts increased by 6%. Motorcycle thefts occur more frequently in the warmer months, where August and July had the most motorcycle thefts, while February had less frequent thefts. Motorcycle thefts were highest in the state of California (7,221) in 2015. South Dakota had the largest percent increase (96%) in motorcycle thefts from 2014 to 2015, while Delaware had the largest percent decrease (-51%) in motorcycle thefts from 2014 to 2015. Analysis by city found New York, NY to have the highest count of thefts (1,340) in 2015, a 30% increase over 2014.”

The report is current through early February 2016. It shows 2014 as taking a pretty hefty drop compared to other years. Page 5 of the PDF contains a state ranking chart. Wyoming is at the bottom with 21 thefts recorded in 2015.

Looking at the stats overall for more than a few years, the number of thefts is pretty constant, in the low to mid 40K range each year.

LoJack reports the number of motor vehicle thefts topped 707,000 – a 3% bump from the previous year. That’s equivalent nearly 2,000 vehicles stolen each day, or a vehicle being stolen every 44 seconds. Making matters worse, recovery for stolen rides is less than 50 percent.

The NCIB report also breaks out the most popular bike for the thieves. No. 1 on the list? Honda, which has stayed on the top for a few years. Here’s the top 5 and the number stolen in 2015.

Honda 8,674

Yamaha 7,214

Suzuki 6,065

Kawasaki 4,920

Harley Davidson 4,416


A truly determined bike thief is not going to be stopped. But you can slow him down and stop a casual thief from hauling off with your wheels. Here are a few tips to make parking away from home safer:

Lock the ignition.

Take your keys with you.

Lock your ride to something that can’t be moved, a tree, street sign or something similar.

Consider a motorcycle alarm.

Park together when riding in groups.

If you park in a garage, try to hide behind something.

If you use cable locks, wrap them tightly.

Put in a hidden kill switch.

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation has a few more tips.