N.H. motorcycle thefts, already low, fell sharply in 2016

  • Bikes line Weirs Beach Boulevard at Laconia Bike Week. Monitor file

Monitor staff
Saturday, May 20, 2017

New Hampshire motorcycle fans are either really honest or really protective of their bikes, judging from national data.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau says New Hampshire motorcycle thefts fell by one-third in 2016, giving it the fourth-lowest number of such thefts of any state – even though it has the second-highest rate of motorcycle ownership.

In 2016, NICB said, 68 motorcycles were reported stolen in the state, fewer than in any state except South Dakota, Wyoming, Maine and Vermont.

This may not seem too surprising, since these are all states with small populations, but New Hampshire stands out because it really likes its motorcycles. In 2011, the most recent year for which numbers have been crunched, the state had one motorcycle registered for every 17 residents – the second-highest such rate in the country.

As of May 1, there were 71,571 motorcycles registered in New Hampshire. That means about one-tenth of one percent of all of the state’s motorcycles get stolen each year.

By contrast, the theft rate in Massachusetts was six-tenths of one percent – or six times N.H.’s rate.

Even better, the number of motorcycle thefts in New Hampshire fell 36 percent in 2016, the second-best decline in the country. (Vermont’s thefts fell 41 percent.) Nationally, the number of thefts increased slightly, by about 2 percent.

It’s not clear why the state does so well in the theft category. Perhaps it’s the choice of bikes: Hondas were by far the motorcycle brand most frequently stolen nationwide in 2016 – taken almost twice as often as Harleys – but they aren’t particularly linked to the Granite State.

Then there’s the Laconia Bike Week effect.

New Hampshire motorcycle registration data is known to be boosted by the popularity of this annual event, which draws casual bike fans who don’t actually ride very often, which means their motorcycles are less likely to be stolen.

Consider the similarity with South Dakota, the only state with a higher per-capita level of bike registration than New Hampshire. It also has a small population, hosts a nationally known motorcycle event, the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, and had a very low level of bike thefts in 2016.

The full NICB report can be downloaded from nicb.org/newsroom/news-releases/motorcycle-thefts-post-increase-in-2016.

(David Brooks can be reached at 369-3313 or dbrooks@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @GraniteGeek.)