Multiple insurance companies report that more than 46,000 motorcycles are stolen in the United States annually.
Additionally, not all stolen motorcycles are reported to the authorities, meaning more than 46k missing bikes are out there.
If you discovered that your motorcycle got stolen, you’ve come to the right place. This article lists the first things you should do after a motorcycle theft has taken place.
Table of Contents
1. Assess the Scene of the Theft
In some cases, thieves get started by neighbors or a cop rolling past, and they ditch the bike around the corner from where they took it.
A friend of mine once reported his Kawasaki Vulcan stolen only to find that it had been crashed and thrown in the drainage ditch of his apartment complex.
And while this doesn’t make this situation any less infuriating, in some cases, pranksters and drunk frat kids simply moved or hid the motorcycle for a laugh.
Finally, both the police detectives and insurance agents will ask you some detailed questions in the subsequent steps. Surveying the area will prepare you to answer all their questions.
2. Gather Evidence
Talk to your neighbors, check security cameras, pull up insurance records, vehicle registration and titles, license plate numbers, and dealership paperwork. Go through your phone to look for any recent photos of your motorcycle before you move on to filing reports.
I had a bike stolen from Target once. The police weren’t interested in coming to the scene to take statements from employees until I told them I’d had the security on duty pull the parking lot camera footage.
The unfortunate truth is that police are more responsive when you offer them leads from the start.
3. Call the Police and File a Stolen Vehicle Report
Regardless of whether your bike was stolen from your home, workplace, or a business parking lot, you’ll need to report your stolen motorcycle to your local law enforcement department as soon as you’ve surveyed the crime scene and gathered what evidence you can for your report.
The police typically ask for your motorcycle license plate, the make and year model of your bike, your VIN, registration and insurance info, where the motorcycle was stolen from, and what time you think it happened.
Some motorcycles equip GPS systems with tracking; so, we suggest you let the police know if your motorcycle has a satellite navigation system in your report.
As we mentioned in the previous section, the more witness, testimonies, and security camera footage you can alert them of, the more likely they are to pursue your case in force.
Even if you feel like the police in your city aren’t exceptionally devoted to recovering stolen motorcycles, filing a police report is a necessary step. Consider the following reasons:
- Filing a police report enters your motorcycle into the national stolen vehicles database. It flags the local police and state troopers in any area where your plates or VIN are run.
- Enlisting your motorcycle in the stolen vehicle database also allows it to be tracked by Automatic plate Recognition Cameras or ANPRs.
- If your motorcycle had satellite navigation and tracking capabilities, the police have the technology to find its location by satellite.
- Sometimes, motorcycle thieves hit one area hard before moving on to another. So, reporting your motorcycle stolen connects it to any similar crimes detectives are already investigating.
- If you find your motorcycle on the street, at a used bike dealership, or being sold online, having a police report filed beforehand makes your case easier.
- When you report your stolen motorcycle to your insurance company, your insurance agent will ask for a police report number or a copy of the report; many insurance companies won’t file a claim for a stolen vehicle unless there’s been a police report filed first.
Statistically, most recovered stolen motorcycles are reported the day they were stolen, and they were found within the first few days. That is to say that the more eyes searching the streets for your bike, the better.
Furthermore, more than a few precincts out there have a time limit on how long after the theft you can report a stolen vehicle.
While this varies from state to state, some states only provide a ten-day window for reporting your motorcycle as stolen to the police, limiting your options with your insurance report.
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4. Report Your Motorcycle as Stolen to Your Insurance Company
You should call your insurance company and report your motorcycle as stolen the same day you discovered it’s stolen. You can do this immediately after you’ve filled the police report.
Most insurance companies have a statute of limitation regarding how soon after an incident they’re willing to file a claim. If you wait too long after the bike is stolen to report it to insurance, they might be unable to help.
Furthermore, your insurance company will likely ask you for a copy of the police report or, at the very least, the official report number, name, and badge number of the officer who filed it for their case file.
The details in the police report are often used to determine if the incident is covered in your policy, so keep that in mind while filing the police report.
Garnering a copy of the police report and considering the evidence is standard practice during most insurance investigations of theft. This is to ensure the bike was actually stolen and not just totaled or hidden somewhere.
If your insurance policy covers motorcycle theft or stolen property, how much is covered changes from the policy to the approach as well.
Assuming you have full coverage or comprehensive motorcycle insurance and haven’t violated any of your policy stipulations, they may give you the total market value for your motorcycle’s make and year model.
- If you have GAP insurance, the insurance company may pay your whole loan off rather than just the used market value. GAP insurance covers the indifference between how much the bike is worth and what you still owe your lender.
Your motorcycle insurance holder will also ask for any vehicle documentation you have available – title, registration, and recent photos of the bike.
In addition, you may get asked many of the same questions the police asked you in the previous step. Be patient and tell the facts of what happened, sharing all the evidence you put in the police report and any additional evidence that’s surfaced since.
5. Spread the Word on Social Media
Most platforms have a myriad of “stolen motorcycle” pages specific to local areas. Please post pictures of your motorcycle and encourage your social media acquaintances to share it until it goes viral in your area.
I know two riders in Austin, Texas, who were able to recover their stolen bikes thanks to social media awareness. Someone got to recognize the stolen bike on the street with the help of the post they saw. After alerting the police, the bike was returned to its owner.
Follow the tips below to spread the word about your stolen motorcycle on social media:
- Start by sharing the bike on the stolen motorcycle pages, but don’t stop there.
- Try sharing it through local dealerships, mechanic shops, and riding groups pages.
- Biker-friendly restaurants, bars, gift shops, and frequent destination businesses will often share posts about used bikes stolen from within the community.
- Finally, share your post with any local junkyards to prevent someone from scraping your bike for parts.
In addition to the recent pictures, share any custom details or unique accessories that set your bike apart from others of the same year model. Even if it’s as simple as an aftermarket seat, raised handlebars, or all-terrain tire upgrades, every detail helps.
6. Keep Searching the Streets and Used Motorcycle Dealerships
Frequent the junkyards and used bike dealerships in your area to see if anyone’s attempted to sell your motorcycle there. Make sure to provide them pictures and the info of the officer you filed the police report with.
If the dealership already paid the thief for your bike, don’t let that stop you from alerting the authorities – the dealership likely has the seller’s information. If fortunate, the authorities can help recover their losses as part of the criminal case.
Circle around your neighborhood to look for signs of your motorcycle, keeping up with the neighbors and eyewitnesses to find out if they’ve seen any suspects since the incident.
If you find your motorcycle, whether out in public or someone’s driveway, alert the police and wait for their assistance to avoid any legal repercussions or dangerous situations.
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7. Search Used Bike Postings
Check online used motorcycle listings on Craig’s List, cycle trader, and any local bike trader platforms in your area to see if someone’s posted it for sale there.
Remember that the thief may have repainted the motorcycle; check the odometer mileage and look for any unique attributes to see if anything matches.
Some of the most popular platforms for used motorcycle listings are:
- Cycle trader
- Facebook Marketplace
- Regional platforms, like KSL, Southeasttexas.com, etc.
Also, check the listings for parts traders and custom bike builder communities to see if anyone is selling multiple parts from your year model motorcycle. Some thieves chop the stolen bike into pieces and sell them individually to avoid getting caught.
If you see a parts vendor selling an unusual amount of parts from your motorcycle model, contact them and see if you can get the VIN of the bike they’re selling the parts of. You can simply say that you want to make sure the pieces fit on your bike.
You can also meet up in person (with a friend) and examine the parts to see if they came off your stolen motorcycle.
Mind you, if you suspect someone on the internet is selling your stolen motorcycle or parts of it, we suggest you contact the police rather than confronting them yourself.
8. Employ Preventative Maintenance
Whether you recover your stolen motorcycle or not, use the insurance payout to purchase a replacement. Otherwise, you will have to spend out of pocket for a new bike.
We suggest turning this unfortunate situation into wisdom and employing some preventative maintenance.
First, make sure your motorcycle policy covers vehicle theft.
While you’re at it, add uninsured motorist coverage as well to protect your bike against hit and runs. Bikes sometimes get knocked around and dragged around the corner by a truck and are reported stolen, only for the owner to find out that it was a hit and run and therefore not covered by theft insurance.
You can also equip your bike with an alarm system to detour criminals or buy a motorcycle that comes stock with one.
Security and lock manufacturers have anti-theft products that lock motorcycle wheels, forks, and handlebars into place to prevent them from moving until the lock is removed.
Regardless of your route, the best offense against motorcycle theft is a good defense.