Number of bike thefts increases as semester starts


A student bicycle is parked on Atwater Avenue on Sunday afternoon.  Noelle Snider Buy Photos

Allee Moore weaved a chain lock through the tire and chain of her bike on Aug. 20. She left it in a bike rack 100 yards from her apartment door and went inside. 

At 10 a.m. the next morning, Moore, an IU alumna and intern for Cru at IU, woke up and walked by the rack while heading for a morning run. The bike was gone. 

“I was so sad,” she said. “Being stolen from is a really vulnerable feeling because someone just took something that is yours.” 

Moore said she received the bike, a steel-gray Nishiki Adult Anasazi Hybrid bike with a magenta streak, a month before as a birthday present. She said she had only ridden it twice. 

IU police received 29 reports of bike thefts in the first three weeks of the semester. Most of the thefts occurred at homes, residence halls and apartments like Moore’s.

In response, Tracy James, communications manager for IU Public Safety and Institutional Assurance, wrote a SafeIU blog post to make students more aware of crime news. 

“Bike thefts are a constant problem on college campuses, so that’s another thing students should be aware of,” she said. 

Adam Rodkey, manager of Bikesmiths Bicycle Shop in Bloomington, said parents of IU students often ask whether there are many bike thefts at IU. The answer used to be “no,” but that has changed. 

“Now when they ask, we tell them, ‘Yeah, it is a problem now, and it’s good to be aware of it,'” he said. 

Moore's old bike cost a bit more than $400. Now, she has a $300 light silver Diamondback Clarity. 

When she went to Dick’s Sporting Goods to buy her new bike, Moore met two other people who also had their bikes stolen. When she talks about her stolen bike, she said people tell her about the times they or someone they knew had their own bikes stolen.

“It’s definitely an imminent threat in Bloomington,” she said. 

After her bike was stolen, Moore told her apartment complex’s offices. They didn’t have cameras and couldn’t do anything, she said. 

She said she also filed a police report online and said no one got back to her. 

She even combed through Craigslist to see if anyone was trying to sell her bike. She found nothing. 

If someone steals a bike, James said it’s still important to tell police. 

“The sooner the police are aware of the theft, the greater the chances of recovering the bike,” she said. 

Rodkey said people should also report bike thefts to local bike shops because people don’t usually have faith in the police for small crimes like bike thefts. 

As a result, Rodkey keeps a clipboard with stolen bike descriptions and contact information in case anyone tries to sell a stolen bike to Bikesmiths. 

“We’re not the police or vigilantes, but we do what we can,” he said. 

But they still only find, confiscate and return one or two stolen bikes each year. 

James said students should register their bikes with the University and record the model and serial number of the bike so officers and bike shop owners can identify them. 

She also recommends locking bikes in well-lit areas, using a case-hardened U-lock rather than a chain lock and saving receipts to prove ownership. 

Rodkey said he encourages bringing bikes inside for the night and avoiding areas with more crime. 

“When you’re in some areas downtown, you’ve got to roll the dice and hope it’ll be there when you get back,” he said. 

Rodkey said good locks in Bloomington range from $40 to $60 – a cost that he said is well worth the price. 

He also said there are Facebook groups, including Bloomington Bike Swap and B-Town Year-Round Bicycle Commuters, where people can post descriptions of stolen bikes.

“It’s great to have a crap-load of people out there looking out for you,” he said. 

Even an old Bikesmiths employee found his stolen bright green bike through one of these groups. Rodkey said bikes with distinct features, such as a bright green color, can be easier to identify after a theft. 

“Even something stupid like a unicorn sticker on the back can make a difference,” he said. 

Moore said her new bike has a U-lock. She also keeps the bike inside at night and recorded its serial number. 

But Rodkey said there’s only so much someone can do. 

“If someone has a pair of these, they will probably get it," he said, pulling a pair of bolt cutters off the floor. "Not to sound Doomsday, but you can’t really stop that from happening.” 

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