Las Vegas ranks 2nd in nation for motorcycle thefts

Las Vegas ranked second in the United States for stolen motorcycles for the second year in a row in 2013, even as the thefts continued to decline nationwide.

The city ranks just under New York and above San Diego for the most thefts, according to a report by the National Crime Information Center, an electronic clearinghouse of nationwide crime data aggregated by the FBI. Last year, 899 motorcycles were stolen in Las Vegas, up 18.8 percent from the previous year, the report says.

The states and cities with the most thefts remained the same in 2012 and 2013, according to the data made public Monday, as well as the three most-stolen motorcycle brands.

Nationally, reports of stolen motorcycles have been on a steady decline since 2008. But the figures seem to show the trend is tapering off.

In 2009 and 2010, thefts declined by more than 10 percent. In the past two years, national numbers show a decline of little more than 1 percent.

Motorcycle use varies depending on the season for most places in the United States because rain and snow make it hard to ride. For similar reasons, thefts are also a seasonal trend, occurring mostly in the warmth of summer.

July had the highest number of reported thefts nationwide with 5,360. August was next with 5,288, followed by September with 4,793.

But Las Vegas offers pretty consistent riding conditions for both thieves and enthusiasts, as do the top three states with the most motorcycles stolen — California, Florida and Texas — give or take a few hurricanes or a polar vortex.

Rob “Chop” Wilkinson has owned O School Choppers on Valley View Boulevard near Russell Road with his son for more than 11 years.

Wilkinson said he has not heard much personally about stolen choppers — maybe once in the past year. He feels like scooters are more likely to be stolen than a Harley-Davidson because they are smaller and frequently unregistered.

And as a rider himself, Wilkinson would be devastated if his were stolen.

“I would feel violated. I put a lot of personality into my bike, as does every rider,” he said. “It’s like a guy stealing your wife or your girlfriend. That’s your buddy, your steel horse.”

Honda, Yamaha and Suzuki were the three most stolen cycles in 2012 and 2013, according to the report. Harley Davidson ranked fifth.

Compared with the anti-theft technology used in modern cars, motorcycles are pretty easy to steal. The National Insurance Crime Bureau reports a thief could get past a lock and start the engine in less than 30 seconds. Smaller cycles could just as easily be thrown into the back of a truck.

Wilkinson said it is common to get a LoJack brand GPS locator that is installed by the frame under the seat, often with an independent battery source.

In the United States, 45,367 motorcycles were stolen in 2013. That is one every every nine minutes, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

Only 37 percent of the motorcycles stolen last year in the U.S. were recovered. Because of the prevalence of custom parts in motorcycles, it is common for them to be dismantled and sold for parts.

Contact Wesley Juhl wjuhl@reviewjournal.com and 702-383-0381. Find him on Twitter: @WesJuhl.

Tips to prevent theft

In the United States, a motorcycle is stolen every 9.4 minutes — according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, which suggests these tips to prevent motorcycle theft:

▶ Add security devices, such as disc locks, cable locks or U-locks

▶ Install alarms or devices that kill the ignition or starter

▶ Install a recovery system, similar to LoJack

▶ Secure your motorcycle to an unmovable object

▶ Because no one method is guaranteed, use multiple precautions at once

▶ Place unique markings on your motorcycle and take pictures of them to help law enforcement with identification

▶ Don’t store your title with the motorcycle