The most risky places to lock your bike on campus

Screenshot of the Emerald’s heat map.

If you leave your bike on campus, you’re going to want to lock it up. In the last five years, there have been 694 cases of bike theft reported to the University of Oregon Police Department. Stolen bikes are difficult to recover; UOPD closed 95 percent of bike theft cases from 2013-2017 without ever identifying a suspect, let alone returning a bike.

Sgt. Jared Davis, who has worked with the university since 2010, said that bike theft is a blanket problem across campus; however, some areas, such as around large buildings, are particularly vulnerable to bike theft.According to the five years of UOPD crime data, Knight Library and the Student Rec Center both had 31 reported cases of bike theft and Lawrence and McKenzie halls had 24 and 18 cases, respectively.

However, bikes are most frequently stolen at the residence halls. Hamilton had the most reported incidents with 53, followed by Bean with 37 and Carson with 34. Here is the breakdown by each dorm:

DormNumber of reported cases
Hamilton Complex53
Bean Complex37
Carson34
Global Scholars Hall31
Walton Complex30
Barnhart18
LLC14
Earl Hall11
Riley Hall2

Nicholas Abusaid, a freshman living in Hamilton this year, said he left his bike by the Rec Center for three days only to find that someone tried to steal its parts.

“I thought I lost my bike last week,” he said. “I found it and it looks like someone tried to remove the brakes. I’m actually on my way to get it fixed.”

The Emerald created a heat map of where bikes are frequently stolen on campus.

But on-campus housing isn’t the only target — Spencer View Apartments, located near Amazon Park, saw 34 reported incidents of bike theft.

UOPD spokesman Kelly McIver says that because Spencer View Apartments houses families, children’s bicycles are frequently left outside, which make them vulnerable to theft.

Davis says it’s important to be aware of one’s surroundings when locking up a bike.

“Be mindful with where you park your bike,” he said. “If your bike is located near a security camera we have more of a chance of identifying a suspect.”

According to the Eugene Police Department, 790 bicycles were stolen last year alone in the city of Eugene; 754 were stolen in 2016 and 1,048 in 2015.

Jeff Blondé, a program manager with EPD’s Crime Prevention Unit, says that bike theft is largely a crime of opportunity.

“If the opportunity presents itself, bicycle thieves are going to steal,” he said. “Bicycles are portable, easy to transport and not that difficult for thieves to sell.”

Blondé also said that a majority of bike theft happens in heavily populated areas, such as downtown.

“It’s a place that’s full of bikes and busy, distracted people and it’s easy for thieves to use the cover of that to steal bikes”

While Blondé says bike theft is a crime that is difficult to prevent, both he and Davis recommend that cyclists secure their bicycles properly with a U-lock, as bolt cutters can easily cut cable locks.

Blondé also recommends that students register a bicycle with UO Parking and Transportation through the department’s Project 529 program. He also encourages students to provide the most up-to-date contact information so the department can contact them quickly if their bike is recovered.

However, Blondé said that recovery of registered, stolen bicycles averages around 10 to 15 percent, and he encourages students to take the preventive measure of securing their bicycles properly.

Correction: This article was updated to clarify Blondé’s comments on students registering their bicycles.


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