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Bike thieves roll less on campus as cyclists lock up

Valerie Osier, Staff Writer

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Bicycle thieves may be finding it harder to spot “easy pickings” at bicycle racks on campus as University Police are taking extra measures to educate students.

Sgt. Keith Caires of the University Police noticed a spike in bike thefts when he began working at CSULB in 2013 and began making efforts with his team to combat it. The measures included increasing foot patrols, educating students on locking up their bikes and applying for a grant to help students and faculty offset the cost of buying a U-Lock.

“[Community service officers] go on foot patrols and look for at-risk bikes, like bikes with cable locks the size of my mouse cord,” Caires said. “They’ll put a pamphlet on the bike and circle the U-Lock.”

Caires worked the Sustainable Transportation Program and the Cycling Club to obtain a grant of $1,500 to offset the cost of 100 U-Locks for students or faculty who registered their bikes in the month of August. The lock costs $5 at the bookstore for the first 100 buyers. The Abus U-Lock usually retails for about $35 according to Caires.

In fall 2013, 41 people reported their bikes stolen from around the CSULB campus. The subsequent fall, campus police had 22 people report a bike theft, a decrease of 47 percent.

The property loss in fall 2013 was $20,819 but only $6,960 in fall 2014, a 66 percent decrease.

The efforts that led to this decrease focused on educating cyclists about securely storing their bicycles and encouraging them to register their bicycles with the police.


 

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Registering a bicycle on campus is free of charge and ensures that the police have its serial number. If it’s stolen and recovered, they can return the bike to the rightful owner and the police can charge the suspect with possession of stolen property.

“Just having it on your bike can be a deterrent for a thief,” Caires said. “They might think, ‘I don’t want to try to sell that bike, the police have its serial number.’”

At this year’s campus housing move-in, University Police brought their mobile command unit and issued 94 licenses that day, Caires said.

University Police and bike enthusiasts alike suggest a U-Lock as the best option for securing bicycles.

“Buy a quality lock, not a skinny cable lock, because those ones can get cut really easily,” said PJ Alvarez, bike mechanic at Out-Spoke-n bike shop. “Especially at Cal State, a U-Lock is best.”

As a sponsor of the CSULB Cycling Club, Out-Spoke-n helped choose, order and deliver the locks for the program.

“We did this last year too, just getting more locks into people’s hands I’m sure has slowed down bike theft,” Alvarez said.

Catherine Bustamante, senior public relations major, hasn’t yet registered her bike, but does use a U-Lock.

“Honestly, what makes me feel safe is the lock because I know that people do steal bikes,” Bustamante said. “So for me, what makes me secure is the lock, because I know that it’s a good lock. I wouldn’t use just the extension with a padlock because I know those get cut all the time.”

Caires added that the “hotspots” for bike theft seem to be at the library, Liberal Arts 1 building bike racks and near the tennis courts.

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