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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

UA sees increase in bike theft since 2011

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Kedi Xia/ Arizona Daily Wildcat

The number of stolen bikes on campus has increased by 47 percent, according to UAPD records.

There were 331 bikes reported stolen to the University of Arizona Police Department in 2012, compared to 225 in 2011.

The increase in numbers could be related to two factors, according to Joe Bermudez, a UAPD crime prevention officer. As the student population increases, so do opportunities for bike thefts.

However, the increase could also just be that more students are reporting the crimes than before, as not all victims report their stolen property, he added.

“We do see a good number of it [bike theft] because property crimes are our highest crimes on campus,” Bermudez said.

Meagan Snyder, a communications sophomore, was one of the many victims of bicycle theft in the last year. After leaving her bicycle on campus for approximately one week, she returned to find both her bicycle and U-lock missing.

“I was kind of shocked,” Snyder said.

Snyder did not report the theft.

As a result of the incident, Snyder said she had to walk to her classes until she could purchase a new bike. She now takes more precautions when leaving her bike on campus.

“I just never leave it anywhere overnight and I’m a lot more careful,” Snyder said.

Gary Bruening, a biomedical engineering sophomore, said he also had his bike stolen last year. After locking his bicycle in a dorm courtyard, he returned a few days later to find it had disappeared. Although he called UAPD and reported the incident, he never saw his bike again.

“It was really annoying … It was in the dorm courtyard, you know, on campus with two locks,” Bruening said. “That was my only mode of transportation off-campus, so I didn’t have that anymore.”

He went without a bicycle for approximately nine months, unable to ride to the store or to his physical therapy appointments. Bruening said he now uses two locks and has his bike registered with Parking and Transportation Services.

Having registered the bike can be extremely beneficial to a victim of bike theft, according to Bermudez. This provides PTS with a serial number for the bike so that UAPD can properly identify it if it is ever recovered. Bikes can be registered for free at the Campus Bicycle Station on the UA Mall. It’s also valuable for bicyclists to know how to lock and secure their bike properly.

“Always protect your tires … people put their lock on the tire and they [criminals] steal the whole bike, or they put it on the bike and they steal the tire,” said Jorge Garza, a bike ambassador for the Pima County Bicycle and Pedestrian Program at the Campus Bicycle Station.

Garza suggested using a U-lock instead of a cable lock, as cable locks can be cut easily.

“Always lock the bikes in well-lit, well-traveled areas where there is the chance for a lot of foot traffic,” Bermudez said. “If someone does see someone trying to tamper with it, hopefully they’ll notice that and call it in.”

Over the five-year period from 2006 to 2010, the number of stolen bikes decreased by 25 percent, according to the 2012 UA Area Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan. During this time, 3,424 bikes were reported stolen.

In 2009 and 2010, the location with the highest number of stolen bikes reported was the Student Recreation Center, followed by the UA Main Library and McClelland Hall.

In 2011, the library and Manzanita-Mohave Residence Hall had the highest numbers.

Yet bike theft is a problem across the entire campus. Taking the proper precautions when locking a bike is the best defense against theft.

“Criminals, they watch, they study people, they look at … things that are happening around them so that they don’t get caught,” Bermudez said. “They’ll look at areas and see, ‘Okay, when’s the best time to do this?’”

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