Increase in bike thefts found in University jurisdiction over last four years

Reports of bike thefts around campus have increased over the last four years. In 2011, 60 bikes were stolen within University police jurisdiction. In 2010, there were 55 cases of bike thefts.

University Police Captain Skip Frost said three to four arrests have been made in connection with some of the bike thefts reported this semester.

“We know this has been going on,” he said. “It’s a crime of opportunity.”

Logan Wan, treasurer of Illini Cycling and sophomore in Engineering, said the registered student organization races against other universities across the country and organizes group rides around Champaign-Urbana.

He said the lack of bicycle safety is a problem, especially for incoming freshmen.

Wan said University students can store their bicycles in their dorms or apartments rather than risking theft by locking it outside. Also, buying a good lock is key to turning away bike thieves because they look for the easiest bike locks to cut, he added.

Wan said that students should not just lock the wheels of their bikes, since some bikes have quick-release wheels that loosen and pop out of the bike frame. Therefore, bike thieves can pop the wheel out of place and still steal most parts of the bicycle, he said.

Nicholas Henning, senior in Engineering, said he had his bicycle stolen on Monday around 10:45 p.m. outside of Newmark Civil Engineering Laboratory, 205 N. Matthews Avenue. He said he had locked his bike to a tree using a combination lock. Henning added that he thinks the suspect must have simply clipped the lock to get to the bike.

“Make sure to always lock your bike,” Henning said. “That’s all you can do.”

Henning said he is now forced to walk everywhere on campus, which results in more time spent getting to a certain destination.

Wan said U-locks are a specific type of lock that is not easy to cut or saw through because it locks the frame of the bike.

“It’s much more secure,” Wan said. “It’s not as easy to break into your bike.”

He said the students on Illini Cycling are aware of bicycle safety procedures, such as purchasing a good lock or storing a bicycle in a proper location, but he worries about the lack of awareness of the general student population.

He added that University students should lock their bicycles to bike racks, which are in well-lit and well-traveled areas, instead of attaching a bicycle to metal fences.

“Most of the bike racks are in pretty public areas,” Frost said. “Where you park your bike makes a difference.”

Brandon Bowersox, chair of the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission, said students should remember to always lock the entirety of their bikes to prevent parts of it from being stolen and to remove lights or speedometers.

“We go through waves of thefts and vandalism to bikes around the campus area,” he said.

Bowersox said he has heard about an increase in bike thefts this fall and it presents an issue to the bicycle community.

Following these precautionary tips “will protect people from being the victim of the crime,” Bowersox said.

On a city-wide level, he said they are installing better bike parking along with new bike racks at the K-12 schools and are attempting to install bike lockers that will hold the bicycles inside closed containers.

He added that contacting police will allow a bike theft incident to be filed in a police report to chart out patterns of these incidences and for the benefit of students’ insurances.

Frost said he also urges the campus community to call the police if they witness any suspicious behavior.