Bike thefts on the rise

Jul 152008
Authors: Shari Blackman

The bike racks by Morgan Library display some unusual signs of summer at CSU: a lone bicycle wheel rim attached by a twisted cable lock; a stripped bike frame, still steadfastly anchored by its U-lock; a cleanly snipped cable, coiled snake-like on the ground near a vacant rack slot.

Some people say it’s just more visible in summer with so few bike commuters on campus. But affected students and staff say bike theft at CSU is more of a threat than ever.

“I haven’t noticed bikes being stolen as much in the past,” said Aaron Benally, coordinator of the Women and Minorities in Engineering Program.

He left his cruiser overnight locked with a thick cable to the racks outside the Engineering Building.

“Just one night was all it took,” said Benally, who returned the next day to find nothing but a cut cable where his bike had been.

Police statistics support Benally’s theory that bike theft is on the rise.

According to the CSU Police Department, 171 bikes were stolen in 2007, 20 more than in 2006.

This may be due to an increase in bikes on campus, said Jackie Swaro, the administrative assistant to Chief Dexter Yarbrough, in an e-mail message to the Collegian. The number of bikes registered with campus police was up 15 percent in 2007, she said.

“Registering a bicycle may help recover it if it has been stolen,” Swaro said, and requires that all faculty, staff, and students “who will regularly ride bikes to and on campus” register them with CSUPD. Registration costs $5 and is good for the length of time the bike is owned.

“Although CSUPD does not have compiled statistics on the number of registered bicycles recovered, we estimate that approximately 20 percent are recovered,” Swaro said.

In addition to registration, the department recommends “using a good cable lock in conjunction with a U-shaped lock.”

Stephanie Strickland, a senior English education major, learned the hard way about the importance of locking her bike.

While visiting a friend, she left her bike unlocked outside of the Cambridge Apartments on Plum Street. Somebody rode off with it, Strickland said.

Strickland now has cruiser, which she locks with “a big heavy lock.”

“I lock both wheels and the frame,” Strickland said. “If I’m going to be somewhere overnight, I take it in.”

Strickland was working at the Academic Village in June when someone inside the building witnessed three men “going to town with bolt cutters,” she said.

The unidentified witness called campus police, who arrived within 30 minutes and apprehended two of the three would-be bike thieves.

Campus police say the most secure way to lock a bike is to “use a U-shaped lock to secure the frame to the bicycle rack. Then use the cable lock by running it through the back tire, around the frame and securing either end to the U-shaped lock. Always lock the bicycle to a bicycle rack. Do not lock bicycles to trees, signs, fences, railings or other moveable objects.”

Benally has yet to replace his stolen cruiser.

He now rides an old, cheaper bike to campus. But Strickland got a much nicer bike after the theft of her old one.

“Walking home wasn’t fun,” Strickland said, “but losing that bike wasn’t too bad.”

Staff writer Shari Blackman can be reached at

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