MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Captain David Knipes, with the Myrtle Beach Police, says areas where there are a lot of tourists are the worst for auto thefts, and the people most vulnerable are those who park motorcycles.
It doesn't matter if motorcyclists lock their bikes, criminals will lift motorcycles and carry them away. Knipes says thieves will even put them on scooters and wheel them away.
There were 425 auto thefts in 2013. More than half of those were stolen mopeds. In the month of May alone, there have been a total of 39 thefts. Twenty-one of those were stolen mopeds, 10 were stolen motorcycles, and eight were stolen 4-wheel vehicles.
Hotel parking lots see the most thefts, according to Knipes. He says there are organized groups of criminals who lurk at night waiting to steal motorcycles. The groups travel to Myrtle Beach to make a living doing it, and right now, they're after motorcycles.
"Sometimes they steal vehicles here to transport the stolen motorcycles back," Knipes says. "Whether it be a van, we've had instances where people steal a minivan, take the back cargo seats out and store motorcycles there - two or three, as many as they can fit in there. And transport them back to wherever they're from - where they will chop them up or sell them, or whatever they can do with them," he adds.
Captain Knipes says thieves want to get in and out without anyone noticing. The more difficult drivers can make it to steal a vehicle, the more likely they are not to mess with it. For motorcycles, a good practice is to chain the bike to something stationary or chain it to other bikes.
Harley Week is winding down and Bike Fest kicks off Memorial Day weekend. There are going to be a lot of motorcycles in town, and police say there will be an increase in thefts.
Although, don't rule out a break-in. Captain Knipes says one of the biggest risks people can take is leaving valuables in your car, in plain view.
"Well, Mr. Criminal knows where that purse is going to be at," Knipes continues. "And he can see a strap. He looks under there, under the seat, and he sees it, and he's going to break your window to get in. It's our recommendation, obviously, that you do not leave any valuables inside your vehicle where they can be seen. Put it in your trunk, lock something in your console. Don't bring as much as you normally do," he advises.