What Happens to Stolen Motorcycles?

When a motorcycle is stolen, what happens, especially when the police are yet to find it? This article reveals what happens to stolen motorcycles and the fate of thieves if they get caught in specific regions.

Yes, it is easy to steal motorcycles, contributing to the surge in motorcycles stolen throughout cities and outskirts.

Everyone, including cops, are curious about where stolen motorcycles end up, and many persons wonder what thieves do with stolen motorcycles.

Meanwhile, there is always the tendency that the motorcycle you buy from a private seller or out of state was stolen. So, make sure to know the things to check for to avoid purchasing a stolen motorcycle.

What Happens to Stolen Motorcycles?

A lot happens to stolen motorcycles. Typically, when a motorcycle is stolen, the police update the database to report it as stolen, and it would have ended up at the chop shop where it is parted and shipped out of the country. Stolen motorcycles are stored in garages and never taken out unless the thief wants a joyride. Professional thieves rip the VIN plates on every motorcycle part, part it out, and make the stolen motorbike legal.

Below are what happens to stolen motorcycles:

  1. Removing the Number Plates

If a thief steals a motorcycle for joyriding, they put a fake license plate on it to keep it from being identified. You can’t get a plate for a stolen motorcycle, although the database is yet to be updated to show the motorcycle as stolen.

  1. Changing VIN

When a motorcycle is stolen, a pro thief changes the VIN. On one occasion, the Suzuki factory motocross team’s motorcycle was robbed by two thieves. The thieves went to a dealership asking how to change the VIN on the engine and frame. Unknowingly to the thieves, the dealer knew the motorcycles were stolen and contacted the motocross team immediately, and the bike was retrieved.

  1. VIN Switching

Thieves can switch the VIN of a stolen motorcycle with an existing VIN of a similar motorcycle. It is easy to get a VIN; thieves search for similar bikes, copy out the VIN and use it on the stolen bike. When a VIN check is done, the stolen motorcycle appears authentic.

For cruisers and street bikes, thieves go to a junkyard, search for a wrecked motorcycle of a similar model and buy it. They switch the VIN, and the stolen motorcycle is marked as a salvage restore. After inspection, the motorcycle is insured and sold legally.

For motocross and race bikes, people hardly look at the VIN, except a dealership for service.

  1. Shipping Out of Country

A stolen motorcycle can be shipped out of the country. Typically, crooks disassemble it and ship it as parts to avoid getting caught.

A stolen motorcycle can also be disguised with the VIN from a different motorbike and shipped out of the country.

  1. Parting the Bike

At the chop shop, stolen motorcycles are typically dismantled and sold as parts. First, they chop out the engine, followed by other parts with VIN plates. Next, they put up the stolen parts for sale on eBay, Craigslist, etc. Some criminals prefer to flip the dismantled parts at disreputable mechanic shops.

  1. Robbery

When my scooter was stolen, the thieves used it for robbery a few months later. If I did not report the stolen scooter to the police, I would be the number one suspect since the bike would have been traced to me.

Thieves have nothing to lose, after all, when they use a stolen motorcycle for robbery. Most of the time, stolen bikes are sold to kingpins for theft at a bargain.

Of course, no sane robber uses a personal motor vehicle during a robbery to avoid being traced. The number plate is also taken off or replaced with a replica number plate.

  1. Stunting

Several insane rider groups steal motorbikes for stunting. When the motorcycle crashes, they lose nothing, except publishing the stunt videos on YouTube and various platforms for likes and followers. Some wild riders engage the police on a hot pursuit while recording it for social media.

  1. Frame Switching

When a motorcycle is stolen, a criminal can switch the frame with a titled frame. If the new frame is not already titled, the thief can’t title it because the motor vehicle department typically requests the title certificate title.

The victim here is an unsuspecting buyer that purchases the bike with a switched frame without knowing it was switched. Such motorcycles are sold with no title on CL, eBay, Kijiji, Facebook Marketplace, etc.

  1. Selling the Stolen Motorcycle

Craigslist, eBay, motorcycle trade groups, etc., can be havens for stolen motorcycles and unscrupulous sellers and buyers. When an unsuspecting person purchases the stolen motorcycle, they get pulled over, and the owner or insurance company recovers it. The rider gets to answer questions too.

When you come across bike postings labeled “barn finds” with no title and key, it could be a stolen motorbike. Nonetheless, typical vintage barn find motorcycles have no title initially. The reason is that titles were not issued at the time, and they can still be registered legally.

Also, stolen motorcycles can be posted as a great stunt or track bikes. For example, “2012 GSXR Track Bike for Sale, No Title, No Key, Low Mileage.”

  1. Joyride

A motorcycle can be stolen for a joyride. Typically, when a joyrider is caught with a stolen motorcycle, the penalty is lenient. But if the thief attempts to register the stolen motorcycle, they are converting stolen property, and the penalty is more significant.

Where do stolen motorcycles end up?

Stolen motorcycles end up with “new illegal owners” and sometimes as parts at the bike market. Typically, amateur thieves sell the bike for a few bucks to finance their next meal or buy something valuable for themselves.

What are the chances of recovering a stolen motorcycle?

Concerning the chances of recovering a stolen motorcycle, the recovery rate is not high compared to vehicles. Motorcycles get shredded easily and can be sold almost immediately without their forms of identity, which are the VIN and number plate.

What Happens When a Motorcycle Thief is Caught?

The legal system is different across various countries and continents. Typically, when a motorcycle thief is caught, they are treated following the legal system of the jurisdiction.

In the UK and Europe, a motorcycle thief is charged with grand theft or felony.

Meanwhile, in some third-world countries, when a motorcycle thief is caught, they are beaten mercilessly as punishment. In Iran, for instance, a motorcycle thief’s finger may be amputated.

In Africa, including countries such as Nigeria, and Togo, suspected motorcycle thieves suffer jungle justice or are handed over to the police, depending on the region of the country.

Final Thoughts

Most of the time, stolen motorcycles are sole to buyers that know they were stolen. They buy them because they are cheaper and then legalize them out of state or country.

Like unscrupulous buyers, scrupulous people purchase stolen bikes ignorantly without checking the VIN, knowing why it has no title and why there are no registration plates.

Leave a Reply