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Bicycle thefts surge, prompt DPS safety measures

U. community encouraged to use U-locks, register bicycles with DPS in effort to deter thefts

Bicycle thefts on campus have spiked in the past two months. The Department of Public Safety reports that 38 bicycles have been stolen this year alone compared to 25 in all of 2015 and 31 in 2014, said Deputy Chief of Police Paul Shanley.

Twenty-five of these thefts occurred after Sept. 9, worrying both DPS and members of the Brown biking community, he said. DPS has recently made one arrest for an attempted theft, but officers “feel that it’s more than one group responsible for these thefts,” Shanley said.

Stories like that of Karla Monge ’20 are becoming more common on campus. Monge reported leaving her bicycle “right in front of my dorm locked on the bike rack with a cable lock,” she said. Later, when she came back for her bike, she saw that both the bike and the lock were missing.

Monge is not deterred from bringing her new bicycle to campus. “I’m going to keep riding my bike and leaving it everywhere, but now I have a better lock,” she said.

Though bicycles have gone missing from all over campus, the most common location for them to disappear is the Main Green, followed by the parking lots near Pembroke, Shanley said. Typically, owners find their bikes missing between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m., he added.

Thin cable locks and poorly secured locks make some bicycles easier targets than others. “Most of the bikes that were stolen were locked incorrectly or locked with really thin cable locks that could be cut with handheld bolt-cutters,” said Harry August ’19. August is a mechanic at Bikes@Brown, a student group that rents out and repairs bikes on campus, as well as a sustainable transportation intern at the University’s Office of Energy and Environment.

“I do not worry about bike theft,” August said. “A good U-lock costs between $20 and $70, and if you have a decent U-lock through the frame of your bicycle, it will be very difficult to steal.”

DPS has initiated a joint effort with members of the Brown biking community to reduce the likelihood of theft on campus. Several students met with officers and a detective to determine the best ways to prevent bike theft. DPS has increased patrols of bike racks, prioritized educating bikers about securing their bicycles properly and encouraged students to register their bicycles with DPS, Shanley said. The department is in the process of buying U-locks to be distributed among students in the future, he added.


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