Honolulu No. 1 in motorcycle thefts
An insurance study finds Honolulu's rate four times higher than Chicago's or Detroit's
Honolulu ranks at the top of the nation when it comes to stolen motorcycles and 12th for collisions, according to a national insurance company.
The Progressive Group of Insurance Companies, the nation's largest motorcycle insurer, said, "Honolulu riders are most likely to have their bikes stolen, even though it's the 53rd-largest metropolitan area."
A Honolulu rider, said its report released yesterday, is four times more likely to lose his bike than a motorcyclist in Chicago or Detroit, which are the third- and seventh-largest metro areas in the country.
Progressive motorcycle product manager Rick Stern said his company based its findings on information gathered from the more than 2 million riders it has covered in the last three years.
Company officials would not release all of their findings because they do not want their competitors to know their market share, but Stern said, "Frankly, we weren't surprised about the thefts. ... That's always been an issue there," he said, referring to Honolulu's numbers.
Honolulu also ranked 12th out of 89 metropolitan areas with populations of more than 500,000 for motorcycle collisions. After Honolulu, other high-frequency theft cities include Miami, San Diego, Las Vegas and New York.
"Riders can't assume that just because they may live in a smaller metropolitan area they have less risk of accident or theft; the data make that very clear," Stern said in a news release.
Honolulu police officials said they could not confirm how many motorcycles are stolen a year because they lump all stolen vehicles -- cars, trucks, vans and motorcycles -- into the auto theft offense category.
HPD was able to provide a breakdown for stolen motorcycles for the first two months of this year, saying 28 of 840 auto thefts involved motorcycles.
Local insurance investigators said while they could not confirm Progressive's numbers, they know that motorcycle thefts are a problem in general, especially since they are easier to steal.
"Motorcycles don't have alarms, they're just usually chained up to something," said Jon Dela Vega, a retired HPD detective and field agent for the National Insurance Crime Bureau. "You cut the chain, and two or three guys with a pickup truck ... can throw the motorcycle in the back and you're off and running."
Former HPD auto theft detective Leroy Fujishige said it is easier to get rid of motorcycles as well.
"They're smaller than cars, easy to hide," said Fujishige, who is also with the National Insurance Crime Bureau. "Once you dismantle the parts, they're not traceable, usually, and it's easy to ship out of state.
"Most motorcycles are not recovered. ... If you have a Harley-Davidson stolen, you're not getting it back," he said.
Fujishige noted that unlike other stolen vehicles such as cars and vans, motorcycles are usually stolen for parts and not used for joy riding or in the commission of other crimes.