You’ve heard of it, maybe seen it on television. But now, it happened to you. I’m talking, of course, about the stolen bike curse.
Despite your best efforts, someone has made off with your machine.
Any number of thoughts could be going through your head such as extracting cruel and unusual revenge on the perpetrator or just sadness at the thought of how much the replacement is going to cost.
Especially if you don’t have any kind of motorcycle insurance.
This mini guide is a summary of what you should do if your motorcycle is stolen.
The point isn’t about you hopping mad and wishing all kinds of evil on the wicked motorcycle thief that you’ll probably never even meet.
It’s about doing what’s in your power to increase the likelihood of your bike being found and getting you back on the road as quickly as possible.
On that account, I have good and bad news. The good: it IS possible to recover your stolen vehicle.
The bad: a motorcycle owner stands less than 50% chance to get their stolen bike back.
That might look good for police clearance rate, but it doesn’t look nearly as good for more than half of us who got their rides snatched.
Step #1: Call the Police
Whether your bike has been taken from your home, your workplace car park, or off the street, your first step needs to be reporting the theft to the law enforcement.
You’ll need to provide them with the following details for the police report:
- motorcycle license plate
- the make and model of bike
- where it was taken from
- when the theft happened (to the best of your knowledge).
DON’T FORGET to get the police number report. You’ll need it for the following step.
The sooner this is done, the quicker your bike will appear in the relevant stolen vehicle databases. That means that it can be tracked by ANPR (automatic number plate recognition) cameras.
If it is seen being ridden in an anti-social manner, then the number plate will also come back as being stolen if the police pulls over the rider.
If you have a GPS tracking system fitted, also provide the police with the details they will request as they will be able to send someone out to the bike’s known location.
Step #2: Notify your Insurance Company
You also need to get in touch with your motorcycle insurance company ASAP. They will request the same details the police have, plus the number of the police report, and will log your claim within their system.
In other words, get ready for some paperwork.
Whether you’ll get some money and how much will depend on your insurance policy. You may get the actual cash value of the motorbike or scooter, but that’s only if you paid for comprehensive insurance and didn’t break any stipulations from your contract.
It may take up to 30 days to hear back from your insurance agent, so you should arm yourself with patience.
On a side note, if your bike is fairly new and is on a finance package which is tied to your bike, it is a good idea to invest in GAP motorcycle insurance if you haven’t already done so.
The idea is that the value that your insurance company will pay out isn’t always the same as the value of the bike that your finance company has listed.
This means that in the event of a total loss, you’ll be left with the shortfall between the two figures to pay. GAP insurance makes sure this figure is covered.
Step #3: Notify the Internet
With the two most important steps out of the way, it is now time to let the world know your bike has been stolen.
Create a “stolen thread” on all the popular motorcycle forums that relate to your bike and provide an accurate description of your bike and detail where and when it was stolen.
Feel free to provide pictures too. It might sound futile, but we should never underestimate the power of community and solidarity, paired with the force of coincidence. There are over 1 MILLION riders on the Motorcycle subreddit alone.
Make sure you list any unique features and modifications that make your bike stand out. The idea here is to make sure that if anyone sees it for sale or being broken into parts, they know to avoid it and contact the police.
You can also harness the power of your personal contacts and spread the word through social media.
Step #4: Anti-Theft Protection
If you were using their anti theft device (disc lock, cable lock, security chain or anything else) while your bike was stolen, they will provide you with compensation up to a certain value, depending on the lock that was used.
This can be up to $3500 / £3000 so make sure to register for it after you’ve bought your new security chains.
Step #5: Keep Searching While You Wait
Technically, the last step is to wait and see if your bike is recovered as well as continuing through the insurance claim process. Payout times can vary but hopefully you’re back on two wheels as soon as possible.
However, if I were you, I wouldn’t be able to just sit on my back and wait to see if I’ll get my stolen goods back or not.
It’s advisable to keep searching. Talk to your neighbors, ask if they have any footage available from their surveillance cameras.
Next, head over to websites where people sell used stuff: craigslist, eBay, geebo. Search for your model and see what comes up.
Lastly, invest some more legwork and inspect every bike shop in your area. Show them the pics of your ride. Some of them may be willing to put up a poster or help spread the word.
If you notice anything suspicious or recognize a part of your bike, notify the police immediately.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the chances of recovering a stolen motorcycle?
According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), back in 2019 you stood a 46% chance to have your motorcycle recovered. The police obviously did a damn good job!
And that’s out of over 40,000 motorbike thefts.
We still don’t have info for 2020. Judging by their auto theft report (scroll down for the link), we aren’t in for good news.
What does insurance pay for stolen motorcycle?
You may get a full or partial payout. Or you may get zilch. In most cases, it will depend on four major factors:
- whether you have comprehensive coverage,
- whether your policy lists all the changes and add-ons you made on your motorcycle,
- whether you have all the paperwork (e.g. title), and
- whether you didn’t break the contract (e.g. waited too long before reporting theft to them).
So yes, it IS possible to get compensated when a motorcycle theft happens. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
If you are on a cheaper policy such as motorcycle accident or collision coverage, kiss your cash goodbye. These types of coverage just don’t pertain to vehicle theft.
What motorcycle gets stolen the most?
The NICB 2019 report says that the top five motorcycles that got stolen the most were Honda, Yamaha, Harley Davidson, Suzuki, and Kawasaki. (Check out more motorcycle theft statistics here.)
These bike models seem to be traditionally most appealing to thieves, by the way. They were exactly the same in 2018 and 2017, with a slightly different order.
A bike thief had the greatest chance to successfully steal a motorcycle in the states of California, Florida, Texas, South Carolina, and New York.
Be that as it may, the number of motorcycle thefts was declining in 2018 and 2019. The NICB hasn’t released motorcycle theft data for 2020 as of this writing, so we can’t know if it follows this favorable trend that had been present over the previous two years.
However, they recently released a preliminary analysis of auto thefts in 2020. And from the look of it, the picture ain’t good. After a stable two-year decline similar to that of motorcycle thefts, the number of automobile thefts in the US surged to over 870,000. It seems the pandemic has brought up the worst in us.
With motorcycles being so much easier to steal, we don’t anticipate the bike index of thefts will be lower than it was back in 2018 and 2019.
I sincerely hope you’ve read this article even if not triggered by the work of a professional thief.
If you did, you’ll realize just how important motorcycle theft prevention is, and how much trouble and distress it can save you down the line.