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Keeping bike thieves at bay: Protecting yourself from bike theft

By on January 22, 2013
bike theft, Andrew Nathan
bike theft, Andrew Nathan

As many students opt out of driving to campus and are biking instead, many more bike thefts are happening around UofL. A few easy things such as purchasing a U-lock, recording your bike’s serial number, installing a GPS in your bike and securing the front wheel can help prevent bike theft.

By Aaron Williams–

The University of Louisville is doing its part to encourage green, sustainable transportation to and about campus. With the implementation of the new bicycle voucher program and the construction of new bicycle stations, U of L is hoping to promote a healthier, eco-friendly alternative to driving to campus where parking space is already a problem. However, these new bikes are quite valuable and new students to U of L’s campus may be unaware that the chances that their bike will be stolen are relatively high unless the necessary precautions are taken.

The National Bike Registry states that thousands of bicycles are stolen in the United States daily. Marcus Fiu, a former U of L student and employee of the Bike Couriers Bike Shop located inside Cardinal Towne, believes bicycle theft is a serious concern for U of L students.

“I’ve never had a bike stolen personally, but I’ve known a lot of people who have had their bicycle stolen,” said Fiu. “A lot of them live on campus and have to park their bike outside their dorms every night. Bike theft is more common around campus just because of the prevalence of bikes and the regularity that they are parked at the various bicycle stations around campus.”

In order to prevent your bike from adding to these statistics, follow a few simple guidelines.
First, all bikes should be secured with a U-lock. While chains can be cut or clipped, a U-lock is much more difficult to cut through and can be locked with a key. Lieutenant David James of the University of Louisville Department of Public Safety states that they have never responded to an incident of bike theft in which the bike had been secured with a U-lock.

“Make sure you lock your bike,” said James, “Many bikes are stolen because people never bother to put a lock on them.” Lieutenant James recommended that if you are going to purchase a five or six hundred dollar bicycle to go ahead and spend the extra $10 to secure it with a U-lock in order to protect your investment.  As a rule, two locks are always better than one. A chain or cable can supplement a U-lock.  Marcus Fiu is quick to point out that a U-lock isn’t necessarily foolproof and must be used correctly in order to be effective.“Make sure you’re locking your bike up correctly. I’ve seen a lot of people lock up using their front wheel or their back wheel and they’ll have their bike stolen. Get the lock to go through your frame. If the lock goes through the triangular shape of the frame, you are more or less safe,” said Fiu.

Secondly, record your bicycle’s serial number. All bicycles have a serial number that can be used when filing a police report in the unfortunate event that your bike does get stolen. The number will go into a database system that will identify the bike if it is brought to a pawnshop to be sold.

Third, you may wish to also invest in a GPS tracker for your bike such as the SpyBike Covert Bicycle GPS tracker sold by Integrated Trackers. Activate the SpyBike device using the accompanying electronic key ring before you leave your bike to go to class or when you lock up to head to the dorm for the night. If your bicycle is taken before the device is deactivated, the SpyBike’s vibration sensor initiates a tracking system that will send a text to your phone and upload your bike’s coordinates to the cloud every 20 seconds until the vibration stops. Using the information posted about your bike’s whereabouts on the Integrated Trackers website, you can then go to the police with an approximate location of your bike and they can track it down.

You may also wish to hide your bike’s true value by intentionally defacing it as a proactive measure against theft. To do this, remove any flashy stickers and brand name labels from the bike’s frame. Repaint the bicycle with a generous amount of cheap spray paint. Purchase fake rust spray from a hardware store and apply it to your bike or add some well-placed duct tape to the body. Doing so may make your bike look less flashy or trendy, but it could also keep you from being out $500 and a quick way around campus.  

features@louisvillecardinal.com
Photo: Andrew Nathan/The Louisville Cardinal

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