The battle to stem the theft of motorcycles and scooters looks to have achieved a tangible improvement over the past 12 months.
The news comes against a backdrop of wildly accelerating automotive crime over the past few years, which was headlined by a huge jump in the number of stolen vehicles reported from 2017’s total of 86,000 to over 112,000 in 2018 - a nearly 50% rise.
Latest figures reveal that reported bike thefts totalled 27,000 for 2018, bringing the number of machines stolen broadly back in line with the figure for 2016, but encouragingly well below 2017’s frightening spike of 34,000 reported thefts; proof, perhaps, that the police’s recent increased freedom to pursue and forcibly stop moped or scooter-enabled criminals is having an effect.
Even more encouragingly, early figures suggest that this downward trend appears to be continuing into 2019, too. But according to latest figures what doesn't appear to be improving dramatically is the recovery of stolen bikes.
Over the last five years a total of 79,228 bikes, with a total value in excess of £54.5 million pounds, were reported to have disappeared and were never seen again.
That means that, over the same period, 59% of all stolen bikes are either sold on with cloned identities, broken for parts that inevitably find their way back on to legitimate bikes, or leave the country to be sold abroad.
A change in priority
And of those that were recovered, a further 10,400 machines were either damaged, found in a disassembled state, and/or were written off by their insurers as a result.
A decade or so ago, vehicle crime was deemed to be a low police priority in the face of more serious offences. But following the headline-grabbing actions of the criminal scooter gangs that are responsible for the rising tide of violent crimes being carried out in broad daylight on the streets of London and other big UK cities, not to mention the linked, huge increase in motorcycle theft that goes with it, the priority has clearly changed.
We are starting to see the results of that. The fact that these gangs are, almost without fail, linked to knives, drugs and violent crime means the Government can now ill afford to consider vehicle crime an isolated irrelevance. The resultant dual effect of tackling those gangs in terms of moped-enabled street crime and bike theft itself is clear to see.
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