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Saturday, August 8, 2020

Bike theft on campus inspires precautions

Bikes locked on campus outside the Communication Facility on Tuesday, Oct. 8. // Photo by Zack Jimenez

By Wilson Turk

According to the crime report from the University Police, in the first two weeks of classes four bikes from Nash Hall have already been reported stolen to University Police. While bike theft is all too common, there are ways to prevent it and to recover bikes that are stolen.

Having a bike stolen can be devastating, especially for someone who uses a bike as a primary method of transportation. Craig Downing, a bike commuter,, said getting his bike stolen felt “like someone had stolen my legs. I felt completely incomplete.”

Andrew Francis, owner and head bike mechanic at Café Velo, said the best way to prevent the theft of a bike is to use a U-lock to lock the frame and rear wheel to a permanent structure, with a cable lock securing the front wheel. 

Francis also recommended people use theft-proof bolts for the seat post to ensure that someone cannot steal the seat.

“The brands Kryptonite and Abus are both good. The most expensive one is the safest,” Francis said.

According to Kryptonite, locks can be registered and, if broken, sent back to Kryptonite.The company will pay the base cost of the stolen bicycle up to a certain amount determined by which lock was being used.

“We have seen evidence of bike theft on our bike parking area overnight when pieces get left behind,” said Darcy Allen, student manager at the Viking Union information desk.

According to Allen, bike lockers are available for rent on the south side of Carver, and the university bookstore sells U-locks.

Bikes should be registered with either Project 529 or Bike Index, both of which are used by the Bellingham Police Department to contact the owner of a recovered bicycle  and alert the community to keep a lookout for a stolen bike. These sites are free and use the serial number of the bike, found on the bottom of the bike frame, to identify and return the bike to its rightful owner.

If a bike is stolen, the first step is filing an official report with the local police. The next step is to report it stolen where the bike is registered online. Allen said people can also post in Facebook groups dedicated to locating stolen bikes where community members actively help keep an eye out for missing bikes. Allen said she was able to help a resident find a missing bike after it had been posted in the Bellingham Stolen Bikes Facebook group. 

Many stolen bicycles appear on online selling sites such as Craigslist and OfferUp. If you see a stolen bike online or in the hands of someone else on the street, the best thing you can do is immediately contact the police to report it. 

While Bellingham does seem to have frequent bike thefts, Francis said they often occur under similar circumstances.

“It’s when the bike is left outside or in plain sight for an extended period of time,” Francis said. “The safest place for the bike to be is inside of an apartment or a house where it can’t be seen from the street.”


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