Bicycle theft at ASU has decreased this year by 26.7 percent because of “bike roundups,” according to Arizona State University’s Police Department records.
The data obtained from ASU Police Department’s 2014 to May 2017 crime records show a major decrease in bicycle theft. The department reported a total of 437 bicycles stolen in 2014, 405 in 2015 and 333 in 2016, indicating a 7.3 percent decrease from 2014 to 2015 and a 17.8 percent from 2015 to 2016. This year’s records report 110 bicycles stolen from January to May compared to 150 from the same time frame in 2016, continuing the decreasing trend.
ASU Police Officer Lloyd Tuilefano said ASU Police and the university have been working hard to decrease the number of bicycle thefts by doing “bike roundups” during winter and summer breaks.
According to ASU’s Business and Finance website, a bike round up consists of attaching tags and stickers to unattended bicycles on the Monday after graduation week of each semester. Those that are not retrieved before the following Friday are then taken by the university to their ASU Surplus Property.
Surplus Property Accounting Specialist, Robert Cochran, said the owner has 90 days to retrieve his or her bicycle by calling or emailing their office. The owner must provide a detailed description of the bike and, if possible, a picture, he noted. Cochran added that after 90 days, all unclaimed bicycles are sold in their retail store at a fair market value.
Charles Eberspacher, an ASU Crime Prevention Coordinator, said the Police Department has been effectively addressing the issue by enforcing Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) around campus. He said CPTED methods include adding more lighting to the areas, surveillance cameras, different types of locking mechanisms and building fences.
Eberspacher said the department redesigns bicycle racks and storages depending on the number of incidents that have been reported from that area. If the numbers are alarming, then the department will choose to incorporate the best CPTED method possible, he added.
“[The Crime Prevention Department] will look into what kind of equipment can be used to mitigate the chances of theft,” Eberspacher said.
Eberspacher and Tuilefano both said their departments reach out to students to teach them about bicycle safety measures.
Eberspacher said that during freshman orientation, he demonstrates how easy it is to break bicycle locks. He said that he advises students to buy expensive locks, like U-locks, since those are harder to break. Eberspacher added that he tells students not to bring expensive bicycles to school because those will be the thieves’ first targets.
“[Students] are better off with cheap bikes, because the thieves are going to know that it is an expensive bike,” Eberspacher said.
Tuilefano said that his department teaches students living in university residency halls how to properly lock their bicycles. He said that many students do not lock their bicycles to anything. It is not enough to lock the frame of the bicycle, but the wheels needed to be properly locked to a rack, he added.
“The more locks that you have on a bike, the better.” Tuilefano said. “[Bicycle theft] is an on-going issue. The only thing we can do is limit it.”
Tuilefano said bicycle theft is more common around residential areas. He said bicycle thieves will steal more bicycles right before summer and winter break. These are non-university students that steal to repair and sell, collect and sell by parts or exchange for hard drugs such as heroin and crystal meth, he added.
Tuilefano said it was important for students to register their bicycles with ASU because it gives them a few perks. He said that if a registered bicycle has been reported stolen and is later retrieved, the owner will be contacted by the Police Department directly. When it comes to bicycle roundups, students that registered their bicycles will get an email from Surplus Property indicating that their bicycle has been taken to their storage, he added.
ASU police can be contacted by any member of the community and asked to hold an informational session on any safety topic, including bicycle theft, Tuilefano said.