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Bike thefts on campus 'widespread and random'

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English senior Joanna Keyl was shocked when she came home in July to find that her bike, along with her roommate's, had been stolen from the front porch of her home.


""They were pretty run of the mill, crappy bikes so we didn't really think people would be all that keen to steal them,"" said Keyl, who lives near Speedway Boulevard and Campbell Avenue. ""I guess we were wrong.""

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Keyl is not alone. According to University of Arizona Police Department Officer Andrew Valenzuela, bicycle thefts are the number one reported property crime on campus.


UAPD records indicate that 286 bicycle thefts have been reported on campus from January of this year through Aug. 31, already nearing the 2008 total of 332.


""There's a high volume of bicycles on campus Monday through Friday,"" Valenzuela said. ""Anywhere from 10,000 to 11,000 (bicycles) are on campus throughout the week.""


Bike thefts on campus are ""widespread and random"" he said. ""There isn't any one true area that is prone to bicycle theft more than others.""        


Keyl stepped out to get coffee around 10 p.m. and when she returned home, the bikes were gone.


""I wasn't gone for more than half an hour,"" she said.


Keyl said the bikes weren't locked at the time they were stolen, but she usually locks hers with a U-lock, as recommended by UAPD.


""I was pretty angry,"" she said. ""But I also know I was in a large way responsible because I didn't lock it up.""


She said she didn't report the bikes stolen because she didn't think they would ever be recovered.


While there is no way to guarantee a bike won't be stolen, there are ways to reduce the chances, such as proper use of an efficient lock, Valenzuela said.


""(A major problem) is improper use of security devices such as a U-lock, a chain link or cable lock, which are the three most common ways to lock a bike on campus,"" he said. ""The last two are easily defeated. You can cut a chain link or cut a cable but it's very hard, without proper equipment, to cut through a very sturdy u-bolt lock.""


Valenzuela said even a proper lock wouldn't protect your bike unless it's used correctly. He said he sees many bikes around campus secured by only one wheel, which leaves the rest of the bike exposed to theft.


Leaving a bike unattended overnight or for long periods of time will also make it more prone to theft, he said.


Although it might not guarantee the recovery of a bike, Valenzuela recommends students register all bikes with UA Parking and Transportation.


""It creates a record of ownership,"" he said. ""The serial number is recorded in the event it's stolen. A number of students throughout the years have been able to recover bikes (because) they took the time to register the bicycle and prove it was theirs.""


Brad Knox, inventory manager at Arizona Cyclist, 5350 E. Broadway Blvd., said there's no way to guarantee a bike is safe.


""I've heard of people taking the whole bike rack a person has locked their bike to,"" he said. ""If someone wants your bike that bad, they're going to get it no matter what.""


Keyl recently purchased a new bike, and this time she registered it.


She said while her old bike wasn't worth a lot of money, it had sentimental value because she bought it when she was 12 years old.


""I paid for it with my own babysitting money,"" she said. ""I was pretty sad to see it go. I hope that whoever took it really, really needed the money or the bike itself.""


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Includes tests since August 2, 2021
Data from https://covid19.arizona.edu/updates
Updated November 24, 2021