Learn how to lock it up everytime

    On a spread-out campus like UCSD, bikes are priceless objects. But, despite investment in bike locks, bike theft is a major problem on college campuses, making bicycle ownership frustrating. In the University of California system, more than half of property crimes involve bicycle theft. Research suggests that student cyclists have a 17 percent chance of losing their bicycles, but taking into account unreported thefts they face a 53 percent chance of losing their bike. Although police recover almost half of all stolen bikes, they are only able to return about 3 percent because they cannot match the bike to the owner.

    Jessica Horton/Guardian
    Lock it up: Prevent bike theft by properly locking your bike to a stationary bike rack or object that can¹t be easily removed. Be sure it is done every time!

    To avoid becoming another statistic, there are several simple steps you can take. First, buy a high-quality lock. A cheap lock will only waste your money and give you a false sense of security because they can easily be picked. The design of the lock should provide functional security. Solid steel is strongest, making it hard to cut, but the best types maintain flexibility. Itís important to check out the lockís performance record, warranty and lifetime key registration and prompt key replacement services. Donít buy a lock that is larger than it needs to be, because thieves can take advantage of the extra space between your lock and your bike.

    Once you buy it, be sure to use your lock. In high bike theft areas, you may even consider having two locks. Combine a cable and a U-lock, or two U-locks. If it takes more time and trouble to unlock your bike, your bike is less likely to become a target for thieves.

    Lock your bike to a fixed, immovable object. Campus police recommend using only the official bike racks provided since it is prohibited to lock bikes to objects such as parking meters and handrails. Donít lock your bike to an item that can easily be cut, broken or removed. Position the bike frame and wheels so you can fill up or take up as much of the open space within the U-portion of the lock as possible, making it more difficult for a thief to insert a pry bar to pry open your lock. Also, donít rest your lock against the ground, where a thief can easily smash it.

    Most importantly, lock your bike up every time. Unlocked bikes can be stolen from anywhere, including garages, dorm rooms, porches and yards. The one time you don’t lock it, it may be stolen.

    Lock your bike in a visible, well-lit area, where most thieves wonít want to be seen. In addition, whether you live at the dorms or in an apartment off campus, your bike should not be left in the same spot for long periods of time or it could become an easy target.

    “”Sometimes students will leave their bikes in a fixed position without moving it for weeks,”” said campus Police Officer Garrett Williams. “”If someone is casing the area, he’ll have had time to study the lock and knows it will be there at 4am when no one’s around. I would suggest not leaving it in one location for any long period of time.””

    Even if your bike is stolen, with the proper precautions thereís still a chance you can get it back. Registering your bike is a crucial step in having your bike returned to you, since it allows police to match your serial number to your bike. Not only is it safe, it is also a state law and campus policy. Campus police provide bicycle registration for six dollars in UC 504, located next to the campus police station. It is open Monday through Friday between 11am and 1pm. Bicycle licenses and renewal stickers must be displayed below the bicycle seat on the bicycle frame facing forward.

    “”If the bike is stolen and we recover it without a serial number, we have no way to prove that it was your bike,”” Williams said. “”Registration helps us to find the people who stole the bikes and prosecute them and to return bikes to their rightful owner.””

    In addition to campus registration, there are national registration systems that can identify your serial number wherever your bicycle is recovered. The National Bike Registry is the countryís leading Internet-based bicycle registration system.

    “”Along with a helmet and a good bike lock, NBR registration is one of the most important accessories you can buy,”” NBR President Eddie Orton said.

    NBR, based in San Leandro, Calif., is dedicated to assisting law enforcement agencies in returning lost and stolen bicycles and scooters to their owners. Using the latest technology and a comprehensive, national database, NBR provides this service to customers through its Web site, toll-free number, retailers, manufacturers and over 16,000 law enforcement agencies.

    In cooperation with the National Crime Prevention Council, NBR has introduced a retail pack to fight bicycle theft. With the NBR Bike Registration Pack, cyclists get a 10-year registration with NBR, a tamper-resistant, serialized security label, and a bonus key tag giving users BoomerangIt Lost & Found Service for their keys for 10 years. The pack sells for $10 at participating bike shops and online at http://www.nationalbikeregistry.com.

    Once you have purchased your lock and registered your bike, write down your key numbers and lock combination and keep it in a convenient place with your bike registration information, purchase receipts and other important documents. Itís good to be prepared if your bike is stolen. If not, finding it can become a nightmare.

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