Auto Insurance

The 10 Worst States for Motorcycle Theft

The 10 Worst States for Motorcycle Theft

In 2017 there were over 44,000 motorcycle thefts in the U.S. However, some parts of the country have significantly higher rates of theft than others, with the top state having a theft rate more than 27 times greater than the state with the lowest rate of theft. In fact, six of the top 10 states for motorcycle theft were located in the South, with South Carolina topping out the list as the state with the highest motorcycle theft rate in the country.
Rear Wheel of a Motorcycle
Rear Wheel of a Motorcycle Source: Getty Images

States with the highest motorcycle theft rates

1. South Carolina

14.7 thefts per 1,000 registered motorcycles

With winding country roads and average temperatures in the mid-50s throughout winter, South Carolina is generally a great place for motorcycle riders. However, the Palmetto State also has the highest motorcycle theft rate in the country, at nearly three times the national average of 5.1 thefts per 1,000 registered motorcycles.

2. Nevada

11.3 thefts per 1,000 registered motorcycles

Nevada's famously warm weather and fantastic riding destinations — such as Red Rock Canyon State Park — make it one of the best states in the country for motorcycle owners. However, Nevada riders should make sure they lock up their bikes. In 2017, there were more motorcycles stolen in Nevada than there were in Oregon and Idaho combined.

3. Texas

9.4 thefts per 1,000 registered motorcycles

With sunny skies and wide-open roads, the state of Texas is ideal for year-round motorcycle riders. However, Texas motorcycle riders should be aware that motorcycles in Texas are stolen at nearly twice the rate of the national average. This high rate of theft is part of the reason Texas has the second-highest average cost of motorcycle insurance in the country.

4. Missouri

9.2 thefts per 1,000 registered motorcycles

Though Missouri has strict laws for motorcycle riders — it is one of 19 states that require all riders to wear a helmet — it also has one of the highest rates of motorcycle theft in the country. In 2017, about 250% more motorcycle thefts occurred in Missouri than in Illinois, despite having less than half as many registered motorcycles.

5. California

9.1 thefts per 1,000 registered motorcycles

California is the home to some of the most famous roads in the country for riders, such as the beautiful Pacific Coast Highway. There are more registered motorcycles in California than in any other state. However, it also had the most thefts of any state, accounting for 17% of all motorcycle thefts in the U.S.

6. New Mexico

9.0 thefts per 1,000 registered motorcycles

New Mexico is one of the top destinations in the country for motorcycle riders, with many believing the High Road from Santa Fe to Taos to be a rite of passage for bikers in the U.S. But it's not all good in the Land of Enchantment for motorcycle riders. The motorcycle theft rate in New Mexico is 77% higher than the national average and 82% greater than in neighboring Utah.

7. Mississippi

9.0 thefts per 1,000 registered motorcycles

Though it has the lowest rate of motorcycle ownership in the country — with approximately nine registered bikes per 1,000 residents — more bikes were stolen in Mississippi than in 15 other states. Because of this, Mississippi riders should take care to always properly secure their motorcycles and make sure they have a full-coverage motorcycle insurance policy, which protects against theft.

8. North Carolina

8.4 thefts per 1,000 registered motorcycles

In 2017, there were more than 1,600 motorcycle thefts in the state of North Carolina. While this is among the highest in the nation, the Tar Heel State does have something it can brag about. Its motorcycle theft rate is 46% lower than in neighboring South Carolina.

9. Arkansas

7.7 thefts per 1,000 registered motorcycles

Arkansas is a great place for both motorcycle owners looking for winding roads through scenic countrysides and dual-sport riders looking to ride off-road. Though, at the same time, motorcycles in Arkansas are stolen at a rate that is 51% higher than the nationwide average.

10. Florida

7.5 thefts per 1,000 registered motorcycles

Florida's warm winters make it the ideal state for motorcycle owners who want to ride year-round. As a result, the Sunshine State has more than 580,000 registered motorcycles. Florida also does not require motorcyclists to have liability insurance. But because of its high theft rate, it would be wise for motorcycle owners to purchase comprehensive coverage.

How to prevent your motorcycle from being stolen

Having your motorcycle stolen is not only frustrating; it can also be extremely costly without the right motorcycle insurance. Below, we've included a breakdown of some of the best ways to prevent motorcycle thieves from riding off with your bike.

Disabling devices: Installing a disabling device — or kill switch — can keep potential thieves from starting or getting too far with your bike. These devices prevent your bike from running or starting under certain conditions. For example, if a thief hot-wires your bike, a disabling device can remotely shut off your bike's engine, preventing the thief from getting away with your ride.

Motorcycle tracking systems: Tracking systems use GPS or radio signals to help law enforcement officials locate your stolen bike. Some systems will even automatically notify you via your phone if someone rides off with your bike. These systems are the most commonly recognized anti-theft devices by insurers that may offer you a discount on your insurance premiums.

Disc locks, U-locks and chains: Making sure your motorcycle is secure and difficult to move is one of the simplest things you can do to make sure it isn't stolen. A bevy of products can be used for this, but be sure to pick a quality item. Cheap locks and chains can be easily cut or broken.

How comprehensive coverage can protect you from motorcycle theft

Having a motorcycle insurance policy that includes comprehensive coverage can go a long way in terms of getting you back on the road after your bike is stolen. This coverage will pay out toward a new motorcycle if yours is stolen and also covers repairs if your bike is vandalized or damaged by a fire or storm.

Comprehensive coverage can pay to repair or replace your motorcycle up to its market value minus your deductible — which is the amount you have to pay for a covered claim before your insurance kicks in. Just note that custom parts or features that add value to your bike often aren't reflected in your insurer's valuation of your bike. To make sure you are fully covered if you have a customized bike, you should purchase a custom motorcycle insurance policy, which operates on an agreed value.

If you are a seasonal rider and your bike is in storage for several months of the year, it is still very important to maintain comprehensive coverage. This will protect you if your bike is damaged while stored or if it is stolen from your garage or storage unit.

And if your motorcycle has a lot of accessories — such as a fairing, saddlebag or luggage rack — you may have to purchase accessory coverage in addition to comprehensive coverage. Some insurers may automatically include a certain amount of accessory coverage, while others offer it as an optional add-on.

Complete list of states and their motorcycle theft rates

Heat Map of States With the Highest Rate of Motorcycle Theft


Registered motorcycles per 1,000 residents
Thefts per 1,000 registered motorcycles
1South Carolina23.414.7
6New Mexico29.69.0
8North Carolina19.08.4
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We compiled motorcycle theft data from the National Insurance Crime Bureau and compared it to the number of registered motorcycles in a given state, as reported by the U.S. Department of Transportation.