Following decoy tracking bikes, campus experiences rise in bike reports


Elisabeth Neely

The bike racks between the English Building and Lincoln Hall are some of the largest on campus which makes them susceptible to bike thefts.

By Eric Rzeszutko, Staff Writer

The University of Illinois Police Department took efforts toward catching bike thieves on campus earlier this semester through the use of decoy tracking bikes and is noting an increase in crimes.

Patrick Wade, UIPD spokesman, said bike reports have increased significantly this school year.

“We received 48 reports of stolen bicycles during the period of September 2017 (when we started using the decoy bikes) through December 2017. Compare that to 18 reports during the very same time period in 2016,” Wade said in an email.

Wade added that the decoys may not be directly catching thieves, but they are bringing more awareness to the issue and making people realize they should report crimes.

While Wade said there’s no single culprit for stolen bikes, he emphasized that it is up to students and all campus bike riders to ensure they are doing all they can to prevent their bikes from being stolen.

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Mattis Steeves, weekend manager at Neutral Cycle Champaign, recommends a bike lock to all users.

“We have not heard about many whole bike set thefts, maybe one or two whole sets in the past two weeks or month. It’s mostly wheel sets,” said Steeves.

Steeves explained most people have problems with thieves taking wheel sets over the entire bike itself. He said this can be prevented through the use of high-quality, durable bike locks.

“The two types of locks we carry are Steel U locks or more flexible chain locks with half-inch links that have a protective nylon over them. The reason being that both are very hard to cut through and most likely will not be cut easily. We don’t carry braided steel because of the very reason that regular bull cutters can get through these lock types,” said Steeves.

Karthik Achar, junior in electrical engineering, had his front tire stolen due to less secure bike locking.

“I usually lock it every time unless I’m able to see it. I use a regular U lock. Usually, I just set it on the main frame but recently, I actually got the front wheel of the bike stolen, so depending on where I am, I now lock the bike on the front tire and main frame,” Achar said. 

Achar said he feels safe with his bike being locked up on campus, especially when it is in a very populated area. Near campus buildings and on busy streets like Green, thefts are deterred from frequent activity. Places like apartments on quieter streets are where thieves are more likely to go undetected.

Wade agreed and said a quality U-lock, wired through the wheel and body of the bike, is the best theft prevention method. He also advocates for bike registration for all students on campus using bikes. This way, if a bike report is filed and a bike is recovered, its owner can easily be found.

“Thieves target bicycles that are not properly locked. More often than not, if a thief sees your bicycle locked up well, they will walk right past it and look for an easier target,” Wade said.

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