BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Bikes in Bloomington are disappearing left and right in a recent string of thefts.
More than 40 bicycles have been stolen across the city just since the beginning of August. Local bicycle shops say thefts are pretty common, especially this time of year as students return to campus.
But Indiana University students are not the only ones falling victim to bicycle thieves. Bloomington Police Department reports show more than 30 bicycles have gone missing from apartments, homes and parking garages all across the city since Aug. 1. Those owners have been anywhere from 18 years old to 65 years and older.
Indiana University Police report an additional 11 bikes were stolen on campus between the start of August and Sept. 19.
“I think it’s really unfortunate that somebody is taking bikes,” said Matthew Thomas, whose bike was stolen in early September. “I know it’s a big way for a lot of people to get around.”
Thomas said he would always lock his bicycle up on a rack right outside the door of his apartment.
“I’ve lived here for over a year now and it’s pretty much always been fine,” Thomas said.
He said he never really thought anything of it, but one morning his bike was gone when he came home during a break from work.
“Between when I left for work and went on that break, so like a two-hour or three-hour timeframe, it was gone,” Thomas described. “I was flabbergasted because it happened in the middle of the day when there was people around.”
Thomas said police have not been able to find his bike so far, so he bought a new one. He has since found a safe place to store it indoors.
If you take a drive through any Bloomington neighborhoods, you will likely find bikes all around. Many are locked up, some have multiple locks and others have no locks at all, leaving them extremely vulnerable to thieves.
“If it’s at all possible to bring it in, it’s generally a good idea to,” said Revolution Bike and Bean mechanic Adrian Hansen. “At least locking it up on the stairwell just so it’s not out on the streets if you can’t bring it into your apartment building at all.”
Hansen said storing a bike indoors is always the safest option. Some riders might not always be able to do so though, Hansen said.
“Cable locks are definitely more susceptible to cable cutters or wire cutters,” he said. “Ideally you have something steel holding your frame onto whatever the object that you’re locking it to.”
Hansen said he recommends U-locks. While no lock is perfect, he suggests riders always use as many locks as possible if they need to store it outdoors.
“The correct technique is definitely making sure you get the frame,” he described. “And ideally getting at least one of the wheels. Ideally both.”
Hansen said if you just lock a tire to a rack, you could likely just find a wheel and no bike next time around. He recommends using a cable lock and a hardened metal U-lock.
IUPD also suggests recording the make, model and serial number of your bike. They also say is important to hold onto all receipts as well in case it gets stolen.
IUPD acknowledged bicycle thefts are a constant problem on many college campuses, but said there are many steps that can be taken to try and reduce the risk. The department recommends the following preventive measures:
- Record the make, model, and serial number of your bicycle and store it in a safe place.
- Save all receipts involving the purchase of your bicycle and equipment.
- Your campus may require bicycle registration, which may include a fee. Please check with the IU Police Department on your campus. Unregistered vehicles (including bicycles) are subject to ticketing and impoundment by parking enforcement offices.
- Always lock your bicycle. An unlocked bicycle is a much easier target than one that is properly secured.
- Lock your bicycle using a cable and lock as well as a case-hardened U-lock.
- Lock your bicycle in a well-lit area on a bicycle rack.
- Never leave your bicycle totally unlocked, even for a minute.
- Report suspicious individuals hanging around bicycle racks by notifying the IU Police Department on your campus.