After record bike thefts in 2014, this year’s bike thefts are increasing at an alarming rate

Melissa Burrowes, Staff Writer

A string of bicycle thefts during the first week of SUNY Buffalo State’s fall semester has sparked a campaign to educate students about how to best protect their bicycles from being targeted.

The thefts are among a recent on-campus crime wave that has seen an attempted sexual assault, a stabbing and, most recently, a robbery.

“Right at the beginning of the semester we were getting one, like, almost every day for a little bit, and now it seems to have stopped for the moment, but that’s not the time for people to forget about the safety and security issue either,” University Police Lt. Richard Myers said about the bicycle thefts.

“We had set up some stings last year, we arrested some people and they seemed to have dropped off for a while, and now since our students have come back for the fall semester we’ve seen a little bit of an increase, so we’re trying to take some steps to take care of that,” Myers said. “We haven’t gone so far as to have a sting operation this year, but we’ve taken the approach of educating our students.”

Myers said that last year, three people had been arrested for stealing bicycles, and that recently, one of them was caught stealing another bicycle at Daemen College.

“It could be that one or more of those people are back in the area,” Myers said. “We do have their pictures, so we’re going to circulate those, and we’ll be on the lookout for those people, specifically, but it could be other people as well. The best thing we can do is just educate the students and the faculty and the staff, anybody that rides a bicycle on the campus, to better secure their property.”

UPD has been placing hangers on bicycles across campus, marking whether they are properly or improperly locked, but until recently, these did not indicate what type of lock should be used. The newest version of the UPD hangers will display a picture of a U-lock at the bottom.

“The U-locks are a more durable lock and we’ve never, of all those ones that we’ve had stolen in the last two years, of all those bicycles, we’ve never had one taken that had that type of a lock on it,” Myers said.

The Barnes and Noble bookstore in the Campbell Student Union is selling U-locks. Besides getting one, Meyers added that bicyclists should note the make, model and serial number of their bicycles.

“If their bicycle does get stolen, the only way we can recover it and return it back to them is if they have that information,” he said. “If they report that information to us, we put that in as part of the report and then if us or Buffalo police, or any other agency comes across that bike, if they run the serial number, they’re going to track that back to the college and then we can track that and turn back to the owner of the bicycle and we can hopefully get their property back to them.”

Myers advises students to be vigilant about anyone who looks suspicious around the bike racks.

“I would say if we can get help from the public here on this, you know, if they see something unusual, to let us know as soon as possible,” he said.

Buffalo State will hold a bicycle safety workshop at Campbell Student Union Assembly Hall 1, Sept. 29 from noon to 1:30 p.m. and Sept. 30 from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Among the topics to be discussed at the workshop are proper locking techniques and accessories for bicycles, with a joint presentation by UPD and the organization GoBike Buffalo on bicycle safety.

Noah Ugale, a sophomore photography major, had his bicycle stolen a month and a half ago from his friend’s porch. He said he never recovered the bicycle.

“They cut my lock and I went without a bike for like a month, but now, after that, I decided to get a U-lock so I encourage people to have U-locks,” Ugale said.

MacKintosh Barker, a senior journalism major who bikes on campus, agreed.

“I’ll probably end up bringing my U-lock to campus and, maybe I guess, just be more vigilant and kind of put your bike in a high-visibility area which is, you know, unfortunate because you shouldn’t have to worry about your bike being stolen on campus,” Barker said.

Tanya Percy, a past anthropology major and Buffalo State alumni, also rides her bicycle on campus.

“I think that there’s a very particular time of year that people come out and they try to, like, take your parts and stuff,” Percy, who graduated in Spring 2014 and previously lived on campus, said.

“I don’t live here anymore, but I still get the email updates, and it seems like especially this time of year, there’s always a lot more, well, to me it seems like, there’s more violence and stuff on campus. New crop of kids coming on in,” she added.

Percy said that a lot of bicycle equipment “is detachable, so whatever you can take off bring in with you” to keep it from being stolen.

Diamond S., a sophomore music major, said she has a bicycle at home.

“If somebody took it, I would be mad because you’re not supposed to steal other people’s things,” she said. “It’s just not right to do. You treat people how you want to be treated.”

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