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Motorcycle Theft Survey

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London bikers are most at risk of having their motorcycle stolen with those living in the South West of the capital suffering  theft rates nearly five times the UK average according to new data published by the UK’s biggest motorcycle insurance specialist.

The publication of Carole Nash’s annual Motorcycle Theft Survey follows a warning from the Motorcycle Crime Reduction Group that bike thefts rates are rising and now cost an estimated £105m annually. It also follows reports that the Metropolitan Police’s Stole Vehicle Unit, one of the last remaining in Britain, is set to be disbanded following budget cuts.

The survey pinpoints the nation’s hotspots by comparing the number of theft claims Carole Nash received against the number of bikers it insures in each area of the country.  The results show massive variations in risk with London boroughs occupying nine of the top ten worst hit areas.

Bikers in South West London, who topped the table, were found to suffer a theft rate over 30 times higher than those in low risk areas such as Shrewsbury or Bath. Outside of London the highest rates were found in Huddersfield – the only provincial entry in the top ten – Edinburgh, Halifax, Dundee and Manchester. The highest climber in the league of 116 main postcode areas was Walsall, the West Midlands town leaping 71 places from 90th to 19th.

To see how bikers fared in your area view the full league table.

“We’ve been conducting this research for a number of years now and the London boroughs have consistently suffered the highest theft rates. The message could not be clearer to bikers in these high risk areas that they must minimise the dangers they face by investing in effective security devices and choosing sensible places to park” commented Carole Nash’s commercial director, Simon Jackson. “It also highlights the need for local authorities and private sector providers to increase the availability of dedicated secure motorcycle parking facilities.”

The company said that whilst most bikers took sensible precautions against theft, some were less diligent. “At the end of the day a determined thief will move hell and high water to steal a high value bike, even dismantling a garage breezeblock by breezeblock. But a lot of thefts are simply opportunistic and some bikers are guilty of creating opportunity,” explained Jackson.

The Carole Nash research comes in the wake of similar findings by the Motorcycle Crime Reduction Group which has reported that 50 percent of all thefts occurred in London. The MCRG - which includes representatives from the police, insurers, security companies and bike manufacturers - has expressed concern that motorcycle theft has increased. Analysing data from the Police National Computer it found that in 2009 nearly 26,000 bikes were stolen. “Compared to other automotive sectors motorcycle theft is rising, especially when taking into account the number of new machines being registered these days ” commented MCRG chairman, Kevin Howells. “Using PNC data, on average there are 77 motorcycles and scooters being stolen every day which creates a massive financial bill for riders, manufacturers, dealers, finance companies and insurers and can deter people from continuing to ride or even taking up two wheels, precisely at a time when the industry is working so hard to raise awareness and highlight the benefits including lower costs and convenience that biking offers over other forms of transport.”

Jackson agreed saying: “Much of the bill is borne by insurers and, ultimately, by bikers in the premiums they pay so it is in all our interests to tackle the theft problem”.

He offered a range of tips to help reduce theft risk and minimise insurance costs.

  • Spend as much as you can afford on insurance approved security devices like ground anchors, tagging systems and immobilisers. As well as helping protect your machine they should earn you a welcome discount on your insurance (Carole Nash offer up to 10 percent off).
  • Garage it. If you can, try to keep your bike out of sight in a locked garage. If you must leave it on a driveway fit a ground anchor and use a cover.
  • Be careful where you park.  With too few designated secure motorcycle parking facilities, the onus is on you. Choose a well lit, highly visible public area, preferably covered by CCTV. 
  • Lock it to an immovable object. Organised thieves often simply lift bikes off the pavement and spirit them away in the back of a van. Don’t make it easy for them – secure your bike to an immovable object using a hefty lock, and use an ear-splitting alarm that’ll rattle their cages.
  • Whenever possible keep locks and chains off the floor – this will prevent thieves from smashing them on tarmac or concrete with a lump hammer.
  • If there are a few of you riding, lock your bikes together. There’s safety in numbers.

The Carole Nash survey also revealed which types of bikers suffered the highest theft rates.  Perhaps unsurprisingly scooters and mopeds were most favoured by thieves. They were almost twice as likely to be stolen as tourers which were least at risk of all motorcycle types.

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