Reported on-campus bicycle thefts increase

There have been more instances of reported bicycle theft so far this year, compared to total thefts in previous years.

According to statistics provided by Tufts University Police Department (TUPD), there have have been 23 reported bicycle thefts since January, an increase from the 20 reported thefts in 2014 and the 21 reported thefts in 2013.

Reported bike thefts are also higher during the fall months, with 10 bicycles reportedly stolen on campus between Aug. 1 and Oct. 15, as opposed to  the five bikes that were stolen within the same time period in both 2013 and 2014, according to TUPD’s data.

“This year we’re averaging a few more than we have the last couple of years,” Mark Keith, deputy chief of TUPD, said. “But generally speaking, once we hit November it kind of drops down.”

Keith said he was not sure why there have been more bike thefts this year.

Claire Stone, president of Tufts Bikes, said that during the fall, people use their bicycles more, and thefts can occur when students are more absent-minded about locking up their bicycles.

“I think sometimes people are also a bit more comfortable when the weather’s nicer, especially if they’re biking to a lot of places,” Stone, a junior, said. “The probability that you’ll decide to leave your bike for five minutes while you run to get something is a bit higher if you’re using your bike a lot.”

Tufts Bikes, a student-run club that rents out 30 bicycles at a time across campus, sees its bikes checked out approximately 3,000 times annually, with a large percentage of rentals occurring in the fall, according to Stone.

“Any time the weather’s nice, we definitely get an upswing in rentals,” she said. “I think mostly the traffic that we get…in the fall [is] because people have places that they want to go and [because] they have a lot of time. In the spring, it’s getting toward the end of the semester, and work is getting more serious. But [in the fall] people are kind of ready to explore.”

Keith suggested that students use the U-Locks to lock up their bicycles and to only use cable ones in addition to the more secure U-Locks. According to Stone, U-locks are harder for thieves to break than cable locks.

According to Stone, many students, however, refrain from using U-Locks, preferring the lighter, more portable cable locks. While the cable locks do provide some level of security, they are much simpler to break and can easily be dismantled with regular tools, she said.

“Theft [mostly comes from] either people not locking up bikes or using less intense locks,” Stone said. “The way to go is really to use a U-Lock, which is the really heavy duty one that you would have to saw through to get off without a key.”

Keith agreed, noting that sometimes cable locks alone are not enough to prevent a bike from being stolen.

“If someone has an expensive bike with a cable lock, it’s an easy target,” Keith said. “I also encourage people that no matter how long or short they are going to leave their bike unattended, make sure it’s locked.”

According to TUPD data, five bicycles that had only used cable locks were stolen this year, and no thefts were reported for bikes with U-Locks. Last year, there were two thefts of bicycles that had used cable locks and one theft of a bike with a U-Lock.

In addition to using proper security, Keith said students should also register their bikes with the school.

“Over the last few years, we’ve recovered a few bikes by making sure they’re registered and finding their owner,” he said.

According to the TUPD website, students can register their bicycles by filling out a “Bicycle Registration Form” and handing it in at TUPD headquarters.

“[Students] will be issued a tamper resistant, numbered Tufts University Police registration sticker to be affixed to [their bicycles],” according to the website.

Keith said that individuals can help prevent bike thefts by contacting TUPD.

“One of the things we really depend upon for investigation is the community,” Keith said. “People shouldn’t feel that they are bothering us. If anybody sees somebody acting in a suspicious behavior or checking out a bike rack, they shouldn’t hesitate to give us a call.”