Leeds motorbike thefts not a 'victimless crime' say campaigners calling for action
Motorcycle thefts are too often viewed as a “victimless crime” by police but this fails to recognise the impact on both individual victims and communities.
That’s the view of Leeds and Bradford Motorcycle Action Group, which wants to see more done to tackle this form of criminality.
MAG branch rep Richard Manton said he has attended many meetings over the years with crime prevention officers, councillors and others.
While understanding the need for police to prioritise different crime types, he said remarks made by one official had left him particularly frustrated.
“One thing they said that really got my back up, is police see motorcycle theft as a victimless crime because you’re insured and you can claim back,” he said.
“As well as having your property stolen, you’ve got loaded insurance premiums for four or five years. It’s a big financial burden.
“We see it as a massive issue not just for the motorcyclists but for the anti-social issue.”
Police figures show there were 2,272 reports of anti-social motorcycle riding in Leeds in the 12 months to May 31, 2019. This figure rose to 2,817 in the following year.
Mr Manton said the motorcycles involved in these offences are more often than not stolen.
“As a legal motorcyclist - as I am and all my members are - you are traceable,” he said. “You’ll get the note through the letterbox, you’ll get your bike impounded.
“These criminals that go out and steal bikes are not trained, they’re not insured, they’ve not passed their test. The police seem to do nothing about it.”
He said such activities left legitimate motorcyclists feeling angry, adding: “All bikers then get tarred with the same brush and it’s wrong; absolutely wrong.
“The vast majority of us are upstanding, working citizens who pay our taxes and enjoy riding their bikes.”
Responding to the concerns raised, a police spokesperson said: “West Yorkshire Police understands the very personal impact that the theft of a vehicle can have and has met with motorcycle groups about the issue to ensure we take a victim-orientated approach to this type of crime.
“We have also been working closely with partners, including ParkMark and the Motorcycle Action Group, to address the issue of secure motorbike parking in West Yorkshire and are planning further meetings now restrictions are being eased.
“Where stolen bikes end up being used in crime and anti-social behaviour, we work with our local teams and partners to gather intelligence and seize these bikes wherever possible.”
Meanwhile, Leeds City Council is looking into the possibility of using legislation to impose Public Space Protection Orders in areas such as Halton Moor, Temple Newsam, Killingbeck and Seacroft where there have been particular issues.
It would mean using motorbikes in an anti-social way was prohibited and any breach of the order could lead to a fine.
The authority said last month that it is also looking at a city-wide strategy to be drawn up for dealing with nuisance and illegal off-road biking.
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