Vehicular theft decreases as bike theft increases

Kaley Andrews, Staff Writer

Thefts on college campuses are nothing new, from backpacks to cars, but there is a growing target for thieves on the various campuses: bicycles.

According to crime statistics gathered by the Los Rios District Police Department, motor vehicle theft is among the top-reported crimes across three-of-the-four main campuses, with eight on-campus motor vehicle thefts occurring at Cosumnes River College in 2012.

While this is an increase from the five reported thefts in 2011 and smaller than the reported 10 in 2010, Sgt. Brian Washington of the LRPD said bike thefts in particular are a prevailing issue across Los Rios campuses.

“From what we’ve seen, they just ride off,” Washington said.

Successful bike thieves rarely bother to load bikes into cars or trucks and often carry tools to cut through cables, Washington said.

However, he said there are ways to deter thieves, including leashing the seat to the frame and locking the rear tire to both frame and rack, as rear tires are worth more than front tires and are more expensive to replace.

U-locks are among the best options for bikes, Washington said, though their versatility is somewhat limited because of their shape. They are stronger than cables and u-locks, with non-circular keys, can’t be picked by conventional means.

Other deterrents include locking bikes close to buildings in well-traveled areas and near building entrances, Washington said. High-traffic areas tend to cut down on theft, as it is typically noticeable if someone is attempting to steal a bicycle.

Justine Olinda, 19, a nursing major, said she has never witnessed any crimes or had anything stolen from her. However, she said that some students are cautious about leaving bikes locked on campus.

“There was this guy I met yesterday who was concerned about his bike and had me watch it for him,” Olinda said. “I don’t think he would have asked if it wasn’t an issue.”

Campus police tend to be very proactive, Washington said. So far this year, in fact, there have been very few notable incidents.

“I would feel safe leaving a bike on campus, considering how small the campus is,” said Rohit Kumar, 21, an anthropology major. “Considering that there are usually campus police around, I wouldn’t be too worried about it.”

However, not all deterrents will guarantee complete safety.

Washington said that retrieving stolen bicycles is quite difficult because of the nature of the crime itself, and the obstacles involved in determining ownership, but bicycle owners can improve their chances of recovering stolen bikes if they follow a couple of guidelines.

Perhaps most importantly, bike owners should know their serial numbers, which are invaluable in determining ownership. These numbers should be included when students make reports to campus police, Washington said.

According to the LRPD website, CRC police also offer a free registration program for students, and engrave license or ID numbers on valuable property, including laptops.

In general, it is best to take all necessary precautions to protect one’s bicycle. Theft may not be completely stamped out, but deterrents can discourage theft.

Have you ever had a bicycle or anything else stolen while on campus? Do you feel that your belongings are safe? Share your stories or thoughts at