MAG brands motorcycle theft data accuracy as questionable.

Motorcycle theft data accuracy is questionable, according to MAG.  The Motorcycle Action Group has pointed to serious concerns with the accuracy and consistency of motorcycle theft data.  The data was received via Freedom of Information applications to the UK’s 45 territorial police forces. 

Motorcycle Theft Data

The annual report looks at motorcycle theft for the year 2019.  MAG compiled responses to Freedom of Information requests from all but six UK police forces.  The report ranks the theft issue in terms of thefts per thousand registered motorcycles in each area. MAG uses FOI data combined with the published numbers of registered motorcycles in each force area.

The results

London ranks last.  The Metropolitan and City of London forces are further behind solving the bike theft issue than any other police force.  Not only that, but the gap is getting bigger.   The theft rate for London is almost twice that for the next worst police force area.

In contrast, the most improved force areas include Cleveland, Nottinghamshire, West Midlands, Merseyside and West Yorkshire.  All these forces were ranked in the bottom seven for 2018.  The Metropolitan and City of London Police combined performance moved in the opposite direction.  Figures for Greater Manchester – the last of the bottom seven ranked forces in 2018 – were not available.

MAG’s Director of Campaigns & Political Engagement, Colin Brown, said:

“The fact that Greater Manchester figures are missing is extremely frustrating. But, the fact that the MET is now even more isolated than before in its dubious position is a more pressing concern.  We hope that the MET will redouble its efforts to deal with its uniquely bad motorcycle theft problem.  But I do not say that this is solely down to the MET to solve.  With the current transport restart emergency measures depriving riders of secure motorcycle parking facilities, I fear a renewed motorcycle crime epidemic.  We can implore owners to lock their bikes, but without the secure parking facilities, owners will face far greater issues with securing their motorcycles than before.”

Reporting inaccuracies

Additionally, the report raises concerns that the theft problem could be worse than is being reported.  MAG analysed all recorded motor vehicle theft reports in 2018 from the Metropolitan Police.  MAG’s count for motorcycle theft was more than 15% higher than had been returned in the FOI response.  Colin Brown explained:

“It seems that the accuracy of entries for make and model is poor.  Just one example was a Yamaha YS125 being recorded with Ford as the manufacturer.  Obviously Ford don’t make motorcycles.  Interrogating the theft entries for motorcycle thefts, all Fords would be filtered out from a search.  Errors like this thus lead to an under-reporting of motorcycle thefts.  A simple solution would be for each theft recorded to include the vehicle class.  Even if the person recording the theft cannot tell the difference between a Yamaha and a Ford, they should be able to count the number of wheels.”

The Motorcycle Action Group has campaigned on the issue of motorcycle theft and secure parking provision for many years.  MAG is a member of the Motorcycle Crime Reduction Group and engages directly with many police forces and Police & Crime Commissioners.  Local MAG activists – lobbying councils and private parking operators to provide secure parking rails and ground anchors – have achieved many local successes over the years. 

MAG offers a reward scheme for information leading to the conviction of motorcycle thieves who steal members’ bikes and, in addition, runs an ongoing “Lock It or Lose It” campaign that aims to advise riders on security issues.  The MAG Foundation runs a “Lock to Lock” campaign promoting a ‘daisy chain’ practice for motorcycle chains where no ground anchors are provided and has also financially supported a number of stolen motorcycle recovery groups.