Bike theft sees increasing trend

When Alex Ding was a freshman, he left his bike lock unscrambled while he was in a hurry to get to class. Once he got out of class, the junior in Engineering realized his bike had been stolen. It was never recovered.

Bike theft has been an increasing problem on campus in recent years. In 2010, a total of 320 bikes were reported stolen to the University of Illinois Police Department, the Champaign Police Department and the Urbana Police Department. In 2011, the number of stolen bikes rose to 340. Last year, it increased to 459.

So far in 2013, Urbana and University police have reported 192 bikes have been stolen. The Champaign police has not yet compiled the number of reported bike thefts in 2013.

“There’s really no pattern that we’ve found year by year, but when the weather is nice, it’s warm outside, there are going to be more bike thefts,” University Police Deputy Chief Skip Frost said.

Ding said he believes bike theft is only a big problem when students forget to lock up their bikes, as he did. But Jennifer Li, sophomore in Business, said even when students do remember to lock their bikes, she has noticed that they can still be stolen.

“I think that people cutting locks and stealing bikes is a huge problem on campus,” Li said. “Many students cannot afford a new bike, and I feel that too often I hear of another bike getting stolen.”

Frost said he believes that with simple preventative measures, students can sharply decrease the chance that their bike is stolen.

“Instead of a cable lock, which are quite easy to cut, invest in a quality Kryptonite U-lock,” Frost said. “Make sure you park your bike in a well-lit and traveled area. Utilize the bike racks because they are designed to keep your bikes safe.”

Barry Isralewitz, a co-founder and volunteer at The Bike Project of Urbana-Champaign, said students too often forget to lock up seats and remove accessories from their bikes, and that makes it more prone to theft.

“Buy a bike seat lock; they’re inexpensive and loop easily through the seat,” Isralewitz said. “If you have a flashing light, a basket or any type of accessory that will make your bike stand out, remove it when locking your bike up.”

Additionally, Frost said students should report any suspicious behavior.

“If you see someone looking suspicious, eyeing bike racks or yielding a lock cutter, call 911 right away,” he said.

Amirah can be reached at [email protected]