Police: Bike theft continues to grow

    Campus bike theft has climbed steadily, with the number of bicycles stolen in 2004 expected to match or exceed last year’s losses despite safety measures taken by students, according to campus police.

    Bike theft on campus has increased five-fold since 2002 and more than seven-fold since 2000, according to recent statistics compiled by the UCSD Police Department. In 2003 alone, the department received reports of more than 100 stolen bikes, a total loss valued in excess of $30,000.

    Thieves took more than 23 bicycles in September, compared to eight during the same month last year.

    Bike theft is nothing new and continues to be a problem despite students’ preventative measures, Bicycle Enforcement Officer Ian Happle said, with 95 percent of stolen bikes on campus having been originally protected with cable locks.

    “All cable locks, no matter what size, are braided,” Happle said. “[The tools] are so strong that they will cut through any thickness.”

    Despite reports of thieves using the backs of Bic ball-point pens to open lock-maker Kryptonite’s tubular cylinder locks, this has not been a problem on campus, according to Happle. Breaking into a Kryptonite lock with a pen is much more cumbersome and time-consuming than simply cutting a cable lock, he said.

    The main problem with bike theft, according to Happle, is that most students lock their bikes improperly.

    “A lot of it is not having the knowledge of locking it up,” Happle said.

    Bicyclists should lock the bike’s frame, rather than the wheel or the handlebars, to the bike rack, he said.

    He also advised students to register their bikes.

    “It is a California law to have your bike registered,” Happle said. “If anything, [registering] shows ownership.”

    The chance of recovery increases significantly if a person registers a bike, he said. Authorities cannot always press charges against a thief with an unregistered bike because there is no concrete proof of original ownership.

    One of the reasons bike theft keeps rising is the growing campus student population, Crime Prevention Officer Kristeen McCollough said.

    Bike thieves are able to steal bikes in the middle of the day because students are not paying much attention to suspicious activity, and most thieves are able to blend into the campus community, making catching them much more difficult, she said.

    “Just the fact that someone is looking at you, makes the [thief] feel uncomfortable,” McCollough said. “If the community paid more attention we might be able to make them move somewhere else.”

    Students should remain vigilant, keep an eye on their belongings on a day-to-day basis and report suspicious activity immediately to the campus police department. Students should also report any theft within 48 hours to improve the chances of catching the suspect, McCollough said.

    Some of the more popular locations for bicycle theft include Price Center, Geisel Library and Library Walk. Most thefts in these areas occur between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Fridays, Tuesdays and Sundays, according to recent statistics.

    Eleanor Roosevelt College sophomore Roland Chang said his bike was stolen the day after he moved in. Chang said he is still angry because the bike had sentimental value for him, and he now uses two locks to secure his new one.

    John Muir College freshman Charles Yi, whose bike went missing in early October, said the experience was a very frustrating one.

    “The recent rise of bike theft is ridiculous,” Yi said. “I think the thieves should find a new profession.”

    More to Discover
    Donate to The UCSD Guardian
    $200
    $500
    Contributed
    Our Goal

    Your donation will support the student journalists at University of California, San Diego. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment, keep printing our papers, and cover our annual website hosting costs.

    Donate to The UCSD Guardian
    $200
    $500
    Contributed
    Our Goal