Aggie Blue Bikes sees recent spike in university bicycle thefts
Published: Thursday, February 28, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 28, 2013 14:02
Aggie Blue Bikes is taking measures to prevent bicycle theft on campus.
“In the past three to four months we’ve had more bikes stolen than the entire time this program has been in existence since 2005,” said Stephanie Tomlin, program coordinator for Aggie Blue Bikes.
Aggie Blue Bikes is a service at USU allowing students to borrow refurbished bicycles free of charge for three months at a time.
In response to the increase in thefts, Tomlin said Aggie Blue Bikes added policies in January to ensure bicycle safety isn’t being neglected. Aggie Blue Bikes now highly recommends borrowers use a U-lock and requires any traditional chain lock used be at least 10 millimeters thick. Aggie Blue Bikes has also increased the replacement cost for lost or stolen bicycles from $150 to $250.
“One of the biggest issues is that people don’t know how to properly lock their bike,” Tomlin said. “You need to go through your frame, your wheel and then the bike rack. It’s really easy to pick a chain lock or cut them with something as simple as basic cable cutters.”
Tomlin said many thieves target bicycles left unlocked or unattended for weeks or months at a time.
According to the USU Police Department, there were 63 incidences of bicycle theft in 2011 compared to 29 in 2010. Data from 2012 was not immediately available.
USU police officer Sutton Hanzalik said bicycle theft has increased partially because it has become easier for thieves to sell them online.
“It’s becoming harder for pawn shops to want to buy bicycles because of our ability to track serial numbers and models through computer systems, but a thief can easily go on Craigslist or ksl.com and sell a bike to someone,” Hanzalik said. “People online often just see a cheap bike as a good deal and won’t question it or report it to police.”
Hanzalik said campus police does training each semester during student orientation to help students avoid theft and burglary. The department allows students to register their bicycles for easier retrieval in the event they are lost or stolen.
“Because crime rates in Logan are so low, people often take predators for granted,” Hanzalik said. “We as a police force can’t be everywhere, so we heavily rely on citizens to report a lot of crimes. If they see something that just doesn’t look right, we need them to call us.”
Hanzalik said about 40 to 50 percent of bicycles students report as stolen end up being found on campus.
“Someone is lazy and they see a bike without a lock so they ride it to class and drop it off at another bike rack,” Hanzalik said. “This is filed as wrongful appropriation.”
Tomlin said a worry-free attitude toward locking bicycles is creating a negative trend.
“The attitude here seems to be, ‘Oh, it’s Logan, my bike’s safe,’” Tomlin said. “Unfortunately, I think some people in Logan and Utah State in particular are realizing that there are a lot of bikes and people aren’t really locking them up, which makes them really easy to steal.”
Tomlin hopes to secure grants in the future that will allow Aggie Blue Bikes to purchase U-locks for students and sponsor courses on bicycle theft prevention.
“I just present it to people as, ‘How much is your bike worth to you?’” Tomlin said. “I know we’re college students and it can be hard to pay $30 for a lock, but if it saves you money down the road, it’s worth that initial investment.”