Motorbike thefts up 64pc on last year's tally

PUBLISHED : Monday, 13 September, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 13 September, 2004, 12:00am

Some owners are concerned police are not doing enough to tackle the problem

The number of motorcycle thefts has shot up more than 60 per cent this year, leading to fears among the city's riders that a highly organised racket is targeting powerful and expensive models.

According to police figures, 229 motorcycles have been reported missing in the first seven months of the year - an increase of 64 per cent compared with the same period last year.

'Police are closely monitoring the situation,' a spokesman for the force said. Officers said they had met representatives of the biking community to discuss the issue.

Some bike owners accused the police of not doing enough to tackle the problem.

'I won't say they are treating bike thefts as one of their top priorities,' the chairman of the Motorbike Cruisers Club, Lam Wah, said, 'because in Hong Kong, bike thefts only make up a small percentage of the overall crime figure. Also, from the police's perspective, the effect [of bike thefts] has little impact on the general lives of the public.'

Many owners believed the increasing number of thefts - with top-of-the-range models especially vulnerable - was the result of demand from neighbouring regions, such as Taiwan and the mainland.

'At the moment, it is difficult to get such top bikes on the mainland. The only way they could get them is through Hong Kong,' said Mr Lam.

Demand for powerful bikes increased in Taiwan after the island dropped its ban on the private registration of bikes with engines larger than 150cc after its accession to the World Trade Organisation in 2002.

The police said information about the models and price range involved in the Hong Kong motorbike thefts was not available.

Motorcycles were being stolen from public parking bays and inside car parks, said Mr Lam.

He believed the thefts were conducted by professionals with an eye to exporting the bikes.

'They are probably organised as they are not stealing bikes that they randomly see in the street,' he said.

He believed the thieves carried out careful monitoring of targeted bikes before striking.

A victim of the spate of thefts is bike collector Ian Foster, who is chairman of the Classic Bike Club of Hong Kong.

'I had one stolen in June, a big BMW worth about $140,000,' he said. 'Now the only motorcycle that I'll take on the road is my old 1990 Honda.

'It's very old, scratched, battered and rusty looking, so nobody is going to steal it.'

Mr Lam said: 'There is little that people can do apart from installing a few more locks on their bikes.'

He also recommended parking motorcycles at car parks with frequent patrols and good lighting.

Police said they had met members of the Hong Kong Parking Association to encourage the provision of more secure spaces for motorcycles in private car parks.