Friday, October 12, 2012

Bike thefts shift into high gear

By Kelsey Mejlaender, Copy Editor

Bicyclists beware.

Within the first five weeks of the semester, five bikes and one rear wheel have been reported stolen.  Bike thefts are already approaching the number of bike thefts for all of last year: six.
Stolen bikes are found occasionally, Jeff Wilgus, assistant director of Campus Safety and information said, but “without recorded serial numbers or other similar markings, it’s tough to prove that a bike is stolen.”

A cut cable lock lies at the base of a bike rack outside of the Mortvedt Library – evidence that a theft has taken place on the PLU campus, an event that has repeated four or more times this year. Photo by Ben Quinn.
Students can register their bike by serial number on PLU’s website or in person at the Campus Safety office for free. Every registered bike receives a tamper-proof decal so that if a bike is stolen the police can identify it with greater ease.

The types of bikes taken varied, mainly “mountain bikes or crossovers, one cruiser and one BMX,” were reported stolen Wilgus said. None were registered with Pacific Lutheran University.

All of the bikes were reported stolen from different locations on campus and each of the five bikes had been secured with a cable lock.

“The cable locks had been cut and as far as we can tell, each [theft] occurred during daylight hours,” Wilgus said.

Students should “avoid cable locks,” Wilgus said. Wilgus recommends students use case hardened steel or U locks, as they “are harder to get through.” Anyone can purchase U locks at a variety of businesses from sports stores to Walmart. Prices increase with the quality of the lock, but typically range from $20 to $40.
Junior Matthew Hust started biking to campus this year, but is not concerned about the thefts and uses a cable lock.

“My bike is kind of tacky and it’s not expensive,” Hust said. “The idea of it getting stolen never popped into my mind.” Hust said he leaves his helmet on his bike but does take off the attachable safety lights he uses for nights, “because they’re a lot more expensive and valuable than my bike helmet.”

Wilgus said students should also remove anything valuable or easy to remove from their bikes, such as odometers, upgraded bike seats or packs.

“Be vigilant and report any suspicious activity, even if it doesn’t appear to affect you,” Wilgus said.

Guest writer Jesse Major contributed to this article.