Bike Theft Epidemic

By: Jake Sabitt

bikesWhile it may not seem as serious of a problem as other types of crime like shoplifting, bike theft is one of the few crimes in the country that is currently on the rise. According to the National Bike Registry, more than 1.5 million bikes are stolen each year, and only 2.8 percent of them are recovered. The National Bike Registry also states that thefts generally tend to occur the most in bike-friendly towns and on colleges campuses. On top of that, Portland is also one of the top ten worst cities for bike thefts in the nation, according to Kryptonite Locks. Thus, it should come as no surprise that Eugene has a serious bike theft problem. A KEZI statistic released in 2015 revealed that the frequency of the crime has increased by 40 percent in the past year. South Eugene High School also has the distinction of being a particularly common spot for bike theft, which puts a large portion of South students who bike to school in danger of having a valuable piece of their property stolen.

“The bike theft problem has had its ups and downs over my time here at South, but over the past few years it has steadily gotten worse, with last year being particularly bad,” South’s Student Supervision Assistant Adrian Swartz, said. “As a very conservative estimate, we had 20 bikes reported stolen last year, but that number is likely quite a bit higher since many students don’t report their bikes are stolen.”

Swartz is one of the primary members of South’s staff that handles bike theft, as a large portion of his job involves patrolling the South campus. As a result, he has witnessed quite a few cases in which thieves took extraordinary measures to steal a bike.

“People have gone to some pretty extreme lengths to get into the bike cage outside the gym,” Swartz said. “The bars to the cage have been cut and then bent open twice over the last year, and just last week we had the U-Lock used to lock the cage cut twice in two days. We have even caught people in the act of stealing a bike in the middle of the day.”

In addition, there are also numerous horror stories of thieves leaving the frame of the bike but absconding with both tires, and an unfortunate South student is left to either carry his or her bike all the way home or ask for a ride.

There is hope, however, for students who wish to continue riding their bikes, as Schwartz was able to provide some valuable tips for students to keep their bike safe.

“A U-style lock is heavily recommend, as they are much harder to cut than other types of locks,” Swartz said. “The area by the gym is by far the worst area to park your bike because it has easy access to the bike path, and it’s pretty easy to hide what you’re doing. The science courtyard is the safest place to leave your bike because it is pretty enclosed and protected,” he added. “You should also avoid leaving your bike here after dark because that is when they are the most vulnerable because south’s campus is completely open at night.”

Some students, however, find South’s bike facilities a little lacking.

“The bad parts about biking for me are that my bike gets wet all the time and there is not enough space so people smash bikes into full racks, damaging bikes or accidentally locking bikes together,” South senior Lizka Vaintrob said.  “I’ve had chain problems because of the smashing thing, and I missed a UO class once because someone locked my bike to theirs.”

In addition to Adrian’s advice, it is heavily recommended that South students register their bikes either with the local police department or on the National Bike Registry website. It’s also advised that bike owners make their bike look distinct because this will both deter potential thieves and make it easier to recover in the case that it is stolen.

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