A spree of bike thefts on campus has prompted some action by UMBC police, but garnered little attention from both commuters and residents alike
A rash of bicycle thefts around campus in the past month has spurred UMBC police into action but has little effect on students. A campus crime alert was dispatched by the Residential Life Office intended to inform students of the trend. The dispatch stated that five bikes have been stolen in the past month from student housing across campus. Students are urged to register their bikes with UMBC police as well as review the tips for safely locking their property.
Police were present at the Residential Life Apartment Community Center every day last week from 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. to facilitate bike registration. The registration program is free of charge and available to all UMBC students. Those who missed the events at the community center can call UMBC police or go to the station on campus to register their bikes.
According to the crime alert, none of the stolen bikes were registered with UMBC police, and the police did not receive any serial numbers.
Michael Cate, a freshman undeclared major, is a campus resident but did not bring his bike with him to college. When asked if he was worried about the thefts, Cate said “It depends where I am, but I’m not too worried. The only times I take extra precautions are when I’m at The RAC or the basketball court, because I’ve seen people take stuff.”
“I’m surprised by the bikes thefts,” said Cate, “UMBC isn’t really known for that kind of thing, but I guess there will always be those kinds of people around. As for the police, I believe they’re helping, but their presence on campus can be a little much.”
Contained within the campus-wide crime alert were some tips for theft prevention. Among those included was always locking up the bike, even when at home. It went on to advise always locking the bike to a solid object, like a railing or a bolted bike rack.
The alert also instructed student on the proper way to lock a bike. Firstly, always immobilize any quick-release parts, such as the front wheel or the saddle. Additionally, the lock should be put through the frame of the bike and through both wheels. To be extra safe, it is advisable to take the detachable parts of the bike — such as its front wheel — when locking it up.
According the Baltimore Police Department, bikes thefts have averaged 400 thefts per year since 2005. Those numbers, however, are climbing. This escalation is being attributed to the increasing number of people in both the city and the county who are choosing to commute to work by bike.
Andrew Pikounis, a freshman Biology major, is a commuter student but is unconcerned with the thefts. “I mean if anybody is being stolen from of course that means you need to be careful,” he said, “but I don’t leave my stuff out anyway, and if my bike did get stolen it wouldn’t be the end of the world.”
The UMBC Police Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.