Bike theft on the rise

Students reported 37 bike thefts in September, DPS records show

Bike thieves stole more than one bike per day on average in September, according to 37 reports made in new Department of Public Safety records, highlighting the threat to student property on campus and surrounding areas.

September was not particularly unusual. DPS Officer Waylon Thomas told Annenberg Media that on average “close to between 20-30 bicycles are stolen per month” on campus.

Thomas said there is no real method to determine the amount of bikes on campus, but was concerned about the amount of thefts that occur on a monthly basis.

CSC Security staff member Andre Brox, who described himself as a middleman between students and DPS, said that students report bicycle thefts to him on a daily basis -- most recently as this morning.

“It’s a daily thing, on campus and off campus,” he said. “People leave their bike unattended, and sometimes they come around and cut the lock of their bike.”

One of those people was Bridgette Simpkins, a junior studying Communications at Annenberg. Someone stole her bike from her home on Greek Row earlier this summer.

“They left my lock there, and it was just sawed in half,” she said.

Now, Simpkins has a new bike and a better lock. She emphasized: “No more U-lock.”

Even though Simpkins’ bike was registered with DPS, she decided not to file a report of the theft. “It was stolen from the Row, so I knew that it was not being found,” she said.

Although Simpkins is under no obligation to file a report, she had every right to. DPS patrols a large surface area around campus -- including Greek Row.

Bike riders like Simpkins may not be able to completely avoid theft on campus, but they can take steps to protect themselves in case it does happen.

Thomas said bicycle registration is one of the most important things riders can do. “It helps us identify who the bicycle belongs to,” Thomas said. Although bike registration “doesn’t prevent bicycles from being stolen,” it is the only way that DPS can return stolen property to its rightful owner if recovered, Thomas said.

DPS can open an investigation into a stolen bike regardless of its registration status within their system, but Thomas stressed that having a record of registration is key.

Thomas said students should also lock their bikes to something -- such as a bike rack or structure. He said bikes that are not locked to a rack or structure are “like a cookie jar” to people looking to steal bikes.

It may also be beneficial to add some unique markings to your bike -- like stickers, unusual colors, or writing.

“That’s what our guys out in the field will be looking for,” Thomas said. “If we see a bicycle with a green bicycle and a pink basket, you know, how many pink baskets do you see? That gives us probable cause to interview the person,” he said.

David Hernandez, a graduate student at the School of Dentistry, rides to campus regularly but has never had his bike stolen.

“I have two types of locks,” he said. “I always try to lock it in the frame, so even if they do try to steal it, the most they can get is probably the tires or something.”

Hernandez said he bought an average looking bike in order to avoid attracting the attention of thieves.

“I purposely got a bike that’s not too high end,” he said. “Not crappy either, but at least enough that it’ll get me to where I need to go.”

For USC student bike riders, the best option to protect against theft is to register your bike with DPS, and invest in a good lock.