Avoiding bike loss

October 19, 2006

Use U-shaped locks to avoid theft

About three bikes are reported stolen on the Georgetown campus per month.

According to Investigator Donna Shephard of the Department of Public Safety, bikes are stolen from all parts of campus at all times of day.

In contrast, Gary O’Neill, Campus Investigator at the Catholic University of America, said that CUA, in the Brookland neighborhood in Northeast, has not suffered any bike thefts this year.

Kirby Jarrell (COL ‘09) was a victim of bike theft this past summer. While living at home in Bethesda, she commuted to her job on campus by bicycle, usually leaving her bike on K Street under the Whitehurst Freeway, an area she described as “sketchy.”

“Every time I left the bike there, I thought, today this bike is going to get stolen,” she said, and her prediction came true. She was using a chain lock coated with plastic, which according to Shephard are notoriously weak. Rather than breaking the code, thieves can simply cut through the chain.

Shephard recommends using U-shaped locks, such as Kryptonite brand. Though cyclists using these locks do report bike thefts, it is usually the result of a failure to properly secure the lock, she said.

Once a bike is stolen, recovery is infrequent, Shephard said.

The majority of stolen bikes are unregistered, according to DPS Associate Director Doris Bey.

This makes recovery significantly more difficult, but even registered bikes are often difficult to find.

When a bike is registered with DPS, a serial number is put on the frame and then sent to the Metropolitan Police to be kept in their records. If the bike is stolen, the complainant submits a report to DPS.

An investigator then gets in touch with the victim for a description of the stolen bike, which is reported to officers who keep their eyes open for models matching the description.

Occasionally the stolen bike is returned to campus, which significantly increases recovery rates, said Shephard.

If the bike leaves campus, however, it is generally very hard to trace. Similar models blend in, and if they are unregistered, it may not be possible to prove ownership.

But DPS officers try not to let a would-be bike theft get that far.

“Usually what happens is we’re able to see someone acting suspicious or we get a call reporting someone acting suspicious around a bike rack, and we try to get to them before they take a bike,” said Bey. “We try to be proactive in that regard.”

Read More

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments