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Wednesday, 7 November, 2001, 13:17 GMT
Motorbike thefts outstrip sales
Japanese bike
Thieves are targeting Japanese bikes
A new police report warns that organised criminal gangs are stealing 3m worth of motorbikes in the UK every month.

In the first report of its kind, the National Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS) identifies London, West Yorkshire and the West Midlands as the three worst hotspots.

The figures show that more high performance bikes are stolen each month than are bought new and that only 16% of them are ever recovered.

Evidence suggests thieves operate in teams, using small lengths of scaffolding pole through the wheels of a bike to lift it into the back of a stolen transit van.

Bike theft facts
20 bikes stolen each day
Hondas, Yamahas, Kawasakis and Suzukis most popular
80% of bikes stolen from owner's home
A dozen gangs are behind most thefts
They often target sporting events but also drive around the streets looking for high-performance bikes before following the rider home and later breaking into their garage.

Steve Powell of the NCIS Organised Vehicle Crime Section, said: "It is an important statistic that more motorcycles are stolen in the UK than were bought new.

"These guys have been operating up and down the country for some considerable time, they have got the resources to disperse them, they have their networks and there is a ready market."

Foreign markets

A total of 600 bikes go missing each month, some of them worth more than 10,000.

Many of the bikes are stripped down for spare parts and sold by corrupt dealers or shipped abroad with foreign number plates.

Figures released from July to October 2001 also reveal thieves stole more Japanese manufactured bikes than any others.

More motorcycles are stolen in the UK than were bought new

Steve Powell, NCIS
The most popular bike for the thieves is the Honda CBR 600, which retails at 6,500, with 350 of them stolen between July and September this year.

Detectives believe about a dozen gangs are operating in the UK.

London was the worst affected area for motorcycle theft, with more than 25% of the total.

Local authorities across the country have been urged to provide more secure parking and motorcycle pressure groups are calling for tougher penalties to deter thieves.

The BBC's Stephen Cape
"This is a very serious problem"
See also:

16 Oct 01 | England
Rural workers loaned mopeds
14 Oct 01 | England
Car thefts soar
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