Bike theft: It happens to the best of us, and brings with it the crushing realization that the thief is somewhere in Davis enjoying your bike while you are stuck walking all the way to class.
Statistically, bike theft on campus is on the rise. As of Sept. 29, the UC Davis Police Department received 38 bike theft reports in two weeks, more than the total reported thefts in the month of August.
Out of the 59 bike thefts in September, 54 of those thefts were reported online, according to the UC Davis Police Department (UCDPD).
The increase in the theft rate can likely be attributed to the online bike theft reporting system created by the UCDPD, said UCDPD Lieutenant Matt Carmichael.
“It can be hard for students to come down [to the station] to make a report. Sometimes the only time students have to report it is late at night,” Carmichael said. “More times than not, students go online.”
For victims of bike theft or those looking for a fixer-upper, bikes will be sold at the bike auction this Saturday. Through the abandoned bike program, TAPS removes nearly 1,000 neglected bikes from campus each year, and sells them “as is” at its bi-annual bike auctions.
“We look for bikes that have the appearance of not having moved in a long time – it usually comes down to months,” said David Takemoto-Weerts, Bicycle Program Coordinator at TAPS. “The ones that we are picking up: the tires have gone flat, there is rust, and they start to lose parts somehow,” Takemoto-Weerts said.
While reporting bike theft is far more convenient than it used to be, bike recovery rates are minimal. According to Carmichael, the best students can hope for is that their bikes can be recovered by identifying the bike by its registration stickers.
In an effort to recover stolen bikes, the UC Davis Police Department is in what Carmichael calls “a warning phase.” During the regular 100 to 150 bike offenses that occur each day, officers check for suspicious activity, such as obvious removal of registration stickers from bikes or matching license numbers to the bike rider’s identification.
Between July 2008 and June 2009, TAPS sold 4,247 licenses and renewals to the staff and students of UC Davis. Though ignored by many students, bike registration is mandatory for all bikes that cross the UC Davis campus and is nearly the only way a bike can be recovered if it is stolen.
Bike theft is a familiar reality for Ph.D. student and three-time theft victim Shafi Bashar.
“I did not report bike theft in any of the three cases because none of the bikes were registered to TAPS and I didn’t think I could get the bikes back by reporting, and I feel that the registration fee is too high,” Bashar said.
Takemoto-Weerts stressed that even if a stolen bike is unregistered, it should be reported to give the police department more data about where and when bikes are stolen.
“My guess is that probably for every 500 bikes that are reported stolen on campus, there are another 500 that go unreported,” Takemoto-Weerts said.
The bike auction will be this Saturday at the West Entry Parking Structure near the intramural fields and Transportation and Parking Services office. Viewing will take place at 8 a.m., and the bidding starts at 9 a.m. For more information please visit taps.ucdavis.edu/bicycle/auctions/.
Numbers of bike thefts per month in 2009
(Courtesy of Lieutenant Matt Carmichael)
GABRIELLE GROW can be reached at email@example.com.