Trends in Motor Vehicle Theft

Trends in Motor Vehicle Theft

Changes in motor vehicle theft rates over the past few decades are shown in Figure 4.5. One trend line, based on NCVS findings, portrays yearly rates of thefts of noncommercial vehicles disclosed to survey interviewers, whether successful comple- tions or failed attempts, for every 1,000 house- holds. The other trend line, from the UCR, depicts yearly rates of completed or attempted thefts of all motorized vehicles, per 100,000 peo- ple, reported to police departments across the country. Both of these sets of statistics indicate that rates of auto theft rose during the late 1980s, reached an all-time high at the start of the 1990s, subsided as the twentieth century drew to a close, and then dropped further during the first 13 years of the twenty-first century (tumbling an impres- sive 40 percent just from 2001 to 2010, according to the UCR).

By contrast, however, thefts were climbing after the late 1990s for one type of vehicle: motor- cycles. In 1998, about 27,000 were stolen. That number doubled to more than 55,000 by 2003, then soared to around 71,000 in 2004 before drop- ping back down to 56,000 in 2009 and 46,000 in 2012. As more motorcycles filled the roads and as they became more expensive, their attractiveness to thieves rose. Motorcyclists lavish great attention on their cherished possessions by installing high- performance engines and exhaust systems, chromed parts, and specialized frames. The most often stolen

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brands were Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, and Kawasaki. Harley-Davidson, despite being the most popular bike, ranked in fifth place, comprising just 8 percent of all missing motorcycles. The high- est theft rates burdened owners in California, Florida, Texas, North Carolina, and Indiana. The cities where a lot of the stealing took place were New York, Las Vegas, San Diego, Indianapolis, and Miami. Just like riding, stealing shows seasonal variations: More thefts are carried out in the summer than in the winter (Scafidi, 2013).

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