Semester sees 50 percent spike in campus bike theft

| Contributing Reporter

The Washington University Police Department recorded an almost 50 percent increase in campus bike thefts during the months of September and October.

Although the 2016 calendar year has so far seen a 46.60 percent total decrease in bike thefts since 2015, WUPD has reported that theft numbers nearly doubled in these last two months. November’s crime statistics had not yet been released as of press time.

Chief of Police Mark Glenn notes that WUPD believes multiple thefts have been linked to a single individual.

“We have identified a subject of interest that we’ve located through our [Closed Circuit Television] system for several of these thefts,” Glenn said. “And while we can’t attribute all these thefts we’ve had to him, he has shown up with several of these thefts.”

Glenn added that even though the locations of the thefts have been inconsistent, a unifying factor between the incidents, many of which have occurred in the afternoon or early evening, has been the use of a bike cable lock.

“Really, the main contributing factor that we’ve seen with a lot of these thefts is that the bikes are unlocked or with cable locks, and he’s defeating the cable locks,” Glenn said. “We don’t exactly know how yet because he’s taking the locks with him.”

Sophomore Manya Segireddy recently had her bike stolen from the racks outside of Bear’s Den.

“I locked [my bike]—it’s wasn’t a [U-Bolt lock], but it was a lock. It was a cable lock, and you would definitely have to try for a couple minutes to cut it. But I locked it, and I went inside for like 15 minutes,” Segireddy said. “I came outside and it was gone, and the lock was gone, too.”

Glenn’s advice to students looking to keep bikes secure is to purchase a Kryptonite U-Bolt lock, which is made of hardened steel. This lock can be purchased from the WUPD office at a discounted rate of $25. Glenn also recommends registering the bike through WUPD’s bike registry system, which is free to do.

“When you purchase a lock we get the serial number, the make, model, and then we give you a registration sticker for your bike. That’s really helped in past thefts. When people see that number and sticker, they call us, and we’ve recovered a lot of bikes that way,” Glenn said.

Senior Jesse Bogdan emphasized the importance of using a bike lock in the first place, after having his unlocked bike stolen from his off-campus apartment on Forsyth Boulevard in September.

“I moved off campus this year—I moved to Forsyth [Boulevard]—and one day, I kept [my bike] outside behind my garage, not visible from the street at all. I left it out there at 3 p.m., and by the time I came out at 7 p.m., it was totally gone,” Bogdan said. “It wasn’t locked, but you’d never see it unless you walked behind my apartment. The lesson is to never leave your bike unlocked, especially outside of campus.”

Glenn reiterated the dangers of leaving bikes unlocked when unattended and reminded students that leaving bikes unlocked impacts the safety of the entire Washington University community.

“This really comes down to protecting our whole community,” he said. “If someone comes and steals your bike, they realize that there are other bikes to be stolen and they tend to come back. That’s what we’ve seen typically, and not just us, but around schools and colleges in our area and nationwide. It isn’t just protecting your property, but it’s protecting the property of everybody in our community.”