Fifty-one arrests. More than 100 criminal complaints. One hundred forty motorcycles stolen. $848,140 lost. These were the headlining numbers in a Los Angeles Times report on how California Highway Patrol officers busted up three motorcycle theft gangs in LA in December -- the culmination of a two-year undercover operation.
That sounds like a big operation -- but in fact, it will hardly make a dent in California, which in 2012 led the nation in the number of motorcycle thefts reported; 6,082, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau. (Residents of the Golden State are still waiting to hear if they held onto the crown in 2013. Fingers crossed). According to investigators, thieves in the county have gotten so good at their "jobs" that they can steal a bike in literal seconds -- often simply picking a bike up by main force, and hoisting it into the back of a pickup before peeling off.
"They like me! They really like me!"
Which were the bike brands most likely to get swiped? Japanese makes, for the most part. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, the most popular bike brands among thieves were:
- Honda (NYSE: HMC ) , which represented 20% of all motorcycles stolen.
- Yamaha -- 16% of thefts.
- Suzuki -- a close third at 15%.
- Kawasaki -- 11%.
- Bringing up the rear, Harley-Davidson (NYSE: HOG ) with 8.2%. (Could it be that Harley's bikes are only popular among people who already own a Hog?)
Yamahas and Suzukis represented the two bikes most popular among the gangs busted up in December in LA, according to the Los Angeles Times. Disturbingly, NICB reports that only 39% of motorcycles reported stolen are ever recovered by their owners -- a full 15 percentage points below the success rate for recovering stolen automobiles.
But enough about LA. What about the other cities topping the list of America's most motorcycle theft-prone municipalities? Before planning your next road trip, take a short stroll through our slideshow of the top five cities to visit if you want to get your motorcycle stolen -- and make sure to check out our special free report at the end.