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Jacksonville sees spike in motorcycle thefts

Police say motorcycle theft numbers are up from last year

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office announced Thursday that it is seeing an increase in motorcycle thefts.

So far this year, there have been 31 sport bikes stolen, as opposed to 23 for all of 2015. For all styles of motorcycles, the number of thefts is already at 51, matching the total for all of 2015.

As an owner of several motorcycles, Brian Wilson said he knows how easy it is for one of the bikes to get taken.

"Anybody can walk up, flip the ignition on," Wilson said. "And just ride away."

Wilson said he has access to storage for his motorcycles, but not everyone has the same luxury.

"Best way is to keep them covered and protected. But they have what they call fork locks, disc locks, which you can put in your brake disc, which allows it to not be able to be rolled away and rolled off," Wilson said.

The majority of thefts are occurring at apartment complexes throughout Jacksonville, according to the Sheriff's Office.

"People do this in apartment complexes because they are sort of transient and someone with a truck can just come along and take it. And it may not be noticed by neighbors," said Gil Smith, News4Jax crime and safety analyst.

Smith said people who live in neighborhoods are less likely to be targeted.

Nationally, motorcycle thefts increase during the summer months and peak in August, which reflects a weather-influenced pattern that is consistent with previous years. Florida was ranked No. 2 for motorcycle thefts in 2015.

"Each year, more people receive a motorcycle license, so you have more motorcycles out there, more people learning to ride. So that's going to increase because you have more cyclists out there," Smith said. 

Experienced thieves can steal a motorcycle in a matter of seconds. In order to make a bike less appealing to thieves, the Sheriff’s Office recommends the following anti-theft measures:

  • Park in a well-lit area and/or near security cameras.
  • Lock the ignition and steering (forks).
  • Take the keys with you. Do not store the keys nearby.
  • Disable the motorcycle when parked, especially at night, by installing a kill switch or spring-loaded switch, which must be pressed along with the start button, in a hidden location, and/or remove the main fuse.
  • Park your motorcycle indoors (garage, shed, patio or inside the residence (if feasible).
  • Use a disc lock -- a device mounted onto a brake disc, with a pin going through either a cutaway space inside the disc or one of the small holes on the disc itself. The lock needs to be thick enough so it hits the fork tube or swing arm to prevent the motorcycle from being rolled away. A disc lock with an alarm that is activated when it senses movement is recommended.
  • Cover the motorcycle with a basic, non-named cover to conceal the model from “drive-by hunters” looking to steal a specific model.
  • Block the motorcycle in with cars.
  • Use a high quality lock with a cable or chain strung through the wheels or frame and secure to a fixed object that is difficult to defeat (light post) or other motorcycle(s).  A chain with a sleeve that protects against scratches and is designed to make it difficult to cut through a link is recommended.
  • Lock multiple motorcycles together.
  • Install an alarm that triggers when motion is sensed. An alarm with a drain sensor, which monitors the electrical system to detect when someone is trying to hotwire the motorcycle, is recommended.
  • Install a GPS or other tracking device so that the police can quickly track stolen motorcycles and recover them still intact.
  • Do not store the title in the motorcycle's storage compartment, tank bag, or saddle bag. Leave it at home in a secure location.
  • Carry the motorcycle’s registration and insurance ID card on you.
  • Take pictures of the motorcycle, especially of anything unique, and have it readily available to give to law enforcement for broadcast.

Anyone with any information on motorcycle thefts is asked to contact the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office at 904-630-0500 or email JSOCrimeTips@jaxsheriff.org. To remain anonymous and receive a possible reward up to $3,000, contact Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS.