Thieves hit the gas as motorcycle thefts accelerate across NYC

by Melissa Klein from

The city may have been on lockdown, but motorcycle thefts revved up in New York City.

The number of motorcycles and mopeds stolen this year hit 1,348 through Sept. 20, up from 916 in the same period in 2019, according to statistics from the NYPD.

The 47% surge is part of an overall increase in vehicle thefts in 2020. A total of 6,107 cars, motorcycles and mopeds were swiped citywide through Sept. 20, up a stunning 63% from the same period last year, NYPD data shows.

The NYPD has blamed the increase on the state’s bail reform laws which prohibit pretrial detention for many alleged crimes.

The East New York and Cypress Hills neighborhoods in Brooklyn are the city’s grand theft auto hot spots followed by Queens Village, Cambria Heights, Laurelton, Rosedale and Springfield Gardens.

Motorcycle thefts had previously been on the decline in the Big Apple, dropping 9% from 2018 to 2019, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

Gavriel Cohen, 27, a bartender who started an Instagram page to help motorcycle owners track down their stolen rides after his own bike was taken in 2018, called the thefts “rampant.”

“It’s all bundled up with the lack of law and order going on in the city right now,” Cohen said.

So far, the Instagram page led to one motorcycle being reunited with its owner.

In June, cops nabbed an ex-con for allegedly taking a stolen Suzuki motorcycle on a 1 train on the Upper West Side. When he was caught on June 16, it was the sixth arrest for Frank Pagan that month alone.

Ramiro Vigil, 34, a biomedical engineer from Park Slope, said thieves swiped his 2019 BMW bike in early August near his home. He said video footage showed three or four men lifting it into a van and taking off. Two friends also had their rides taken around the same time.

Vigil, a native of Mexico who has lived in China, Brazil and Europe, said he did not experience this type of crime in other countries.

“I think it could be related to the COVID and people probably looking for easy money,” he said. “But it’s really sad.”

Jessica Brown, 38, who purchased her $6,000 customized Honda bike just three months ago, had it disappear on Sept. 18 while parked in front of her Richmond Hill home.

Security footage showed two men walking the bike off the street at 1 a.m., Brown said.

Brown immediately put the word out in the motorcycle community, where she is known as Jes Blaze.

“You can’t depend on the cops, unfortunately. They take a report and then they go on with their merry way,” she said. “I’m basically relying on the streets right now.”

Brown said the distinctive bike, which is covered in a red camouflage pattern, has been seen on Long Island, in Ridgewood and on the Bruckner Expressway. But she doesn’t have high hopes of getting it back.

“The chances of a motorcycle being found or returned is literally like finding a needle in the haystack,” she said.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau said its statistics showed that just 255 motorcycles, mopeds, scooters or motorbikes have been recovered in New York City this year out of 1,389 it has recorded stolen.

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