By Julia Vergara | Staff Writer
20 out of 29 total thefts in October were bike thefts, according to the Baylor University Police Department’s (BUPD) uniform crime reporting statistics.
“This is one of these situations where it is a community-police department collaborative effort to reduce crime,” said Baylor Police Chief Brad Wigtil.
Wigtil said the community can reduce the opportunity for bike thefts that occur by locking their bikes with the right equipment and registering their bikes with the Baylor Department of Public Safety.
Crime Prevention Officer Scott Curry said he has seen a bunch of bikes just laying up against a bike rack across campus –– completely unsecured. Other bikes on campus are not secured properly with the right equipment.
Curry said one bike he came across in the past was worth up to $400 to $500 and was only secured with a leather belt.
“Definitely lock your bike, but there are certain devices that are easily, easily defeated,” Wigtil said.
Even an average bike cable can be easily cut through using a regular utility tool that’s small enough for a thief to carry in their pocket, Curry said. Instead, BUPD recommends that students use U-Locks –– which requires a hydroelectric grinding tool to cut through –– to properly secure their bikes.
A big issue in dealing with bike theft is the lack of bike registration. Out of around 800 bikes on campus, only about 20 percent are registered, Wigtil said.
According to Wigtil, early in the morning of Oct. 27, BUPD noticed a man leaving campus riding a bike and towing another. The man was a much older individual and did not fit a Baylor student profile, so they stopped him.
While BUPD was able to arrest the man on certain charges, they could not file bike theft charges against him because they were not registered as Baylor students’ bikes.
“I am almost certain they belong to our Baylor students and I can’t determine who the owners are so I can’t file bike theft charges on this individual until I get the owners,” Wigtil said.
Bike registration is also important in finding a student’s bike after it has been stolen. If the bike is registered, BUPD will have the serial number on record, Wigtil said. That way, they can use a computer system to alert them if the bike has been taken to a pawn shop.
Using the bike’s serial number, BUPD is also able to put it into the Texas Crime Information Center and National Crime Information Center’s computer system so that if a police officer in another city or state gets ahold of the bike, they can run the serial number and it will tell them that BUPD has reported it as stolen.
Out of the 20 bike thefts in October, only five were recovered by BUPD.
“If you’ve got a bike on campus, please check and if it’s missing go to the police department because right now we’ve got five bikes that were stolen in October that were recovered and we don’t have the owners,” Wigtil said.
According to Wigtil, it is not likely that a bike will be recovered after it has been stolen, but without the registration information, it is impossible.
In order to encourage students to register their bikes, Wigtil said BUPD will give a free U-Lock to any student that registers their bike at the BUPD station. Students are also able to register their bikes online.
In order to further reduce bike thefts, Wigtil said that BUPD is in the process of bringing “bait bikes” to campus. This technology would alarm dispatch if somebody takes one of them, allowing them to see where it is moving so that they can catch the thief.
“We need the community’s help,” Wigtil said. “We’re going to do our part. We need the community to help do their part and together we can address this issue and I think we’ll see some great results.”