Bike thefts down, police say
Published: Monday, October 31, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, November 1, 2011 04:11
University police officials reported that bicycle thefts on campus have decreased 39 percent since last year, and they believe the downward trend will continue through the year.
University police Chief Patrick Ogden said 24 bicycles were reported stolen on campus last year between Aug. 28 and Oct. 25.
However, during the same time frame this year, only 13 bicycles have been stolen. Last year, there were 90 total bicycle thefts on campus, and police recovered 19 of those vehicles.
Ogden attributes the reduction to students being better informed about bicycle theft prevention techniques, such as securing their bicycle to racks with U-locks and in view of security cameras. He also said many stolen bicycles are not registered with the Office of Public Safety, which makes them more difficult to identify.
"If a bicycle is not registered with us, we recover the bicycle and we can't return it to the owner because we don't know who the owner is," Ogden said.
He said police bicycle theft statistics show there is no specific trend as to when or where bicycles are stolen from campus.
However, bicycles on racks, those secured with cable locks and mountain bicycles are the most susceptible to theft.
Students can also prevent a theft from occurring by securing their bicycle to a rack with a U-lock that is in a high traffic area and within range of a security camera.
Brian Bourdon, a mechanic at Bicycle Line on Main Street, said the most reliable way to secure a bicycle is to the use a U-lock in combination with a cable lock. The U-lock protects the frame of the bicycle, while the cable lock intertwines through the wheels.
However, he said just using a U-lock is often sufficient because bicycle wheels are not commonly stolen on campus.
Bourdon recommends students keep their bicycles inside their residences at night to protect them.
"There is a less chance that the bicycle will get stolen at night," Bourdon said. "Also, there's a lesser chance of drunken people kicking your wheels in, which seems to be a current theme, which bends the wheels."
He said bicycle lock sales at his store have increased by 13 percent compared to last year's sales.
"This year we have sold a lot more bike locks than in years past," Bourdon said. "I think it has a lot to do with the housing authorities, like [resident assistants], telling the students to come get good bike locks."
Senior Frank Lao's bicycle was stolen from a rack outside of his Dickinson dorm during his freshman year. He contacted campus police two days after seeing his bicycle outside of the Trabant University Center with a new lock.
Police were able to retrieve the bicycle and prove it was Lao's because he had previously registered the bicycle with university police.
Lao, who currently owns a more expensive bicycle since the incident, said he is hesitant about leaving it unattended.
"I keep my bicycle locked up in my room only because if someone doesn't belong in the dorms and is intentionally going to steal something I don't want it to be my bicycle," Lao said. "My bicycle is more expensive than my computer."
In July, university police arrested a serial bicycle thief using cameras around campus to identify the suspected thief. Police were able to catch the man due to an accurate physical description, and his pattern of travel.
Sophomore Gabrielle Perrotti said she does not worry about her bike when she secures it on campus property.
"I feel safer that bicycle theft is down," Perrotti said. "Sometimes I lock it under the Smith building against the railing over night and I've never had a problem with it."
Ogden said if students follow basic bicycle theft prevention methods, they will deter most thieves from stealing them.
"These people that are doing this are looking for the easy target," Ogden said. "So the harder you make it, the less likely it is that you're going to be a victim of a bicycle theft."