Written by Olivia McLean
Of the many different modes of transportation, bicycles are quite common on the VSU campus, with that, so are bicycle thefts.
The trend of bike thefts might not take many people by surprise. According to VSUPD investigator Sgt. Matt Maestas, less than 70 bicycle thefts were reported in 2012.
“[Bike theft] does occur out here, but it’s really not large numbers,” Maestas said. “I think anytime one of them gets stolen, it’s an issue, so whenever it occurs, it’s not something we want.”
With bike racks placed all around campus, it is hard to decide which one is the safest to leave a bike tied up to overnight.
“They all get looked at by whoever is taking them,” VSUPD investigator Lt. Cindy Cobb said.
When it comes to combatting the problem, VSUPD is very active.
“We have a BAT (Bicycle Anti-Theft) program,” Maestas said. “It doesn’t prevent your bicycle from being stolen, but what it does is it logs the owner’s information. If it’s ever recovered, then we automatically get a hit as to who has it, where it’s at, and then they’ll make preparations to get it back to us.”
All of the owner’s personal information as well as the bike’s information, such as its serial number and value, are stored in the Georgia Crime Information Center database.
This database allows all law enforcement agencies to register and find stolen property.
“I don’t think bike theft is as big an issue as it was before,” said Ayanna Whittle, a junior psychology major, who had her bike stolen on campus in 2011. “From what I know, most people whose bikes are stolen don’t get them returned.”
Maestas said, “Most of the time [victims] just don’t lock [bicycles]. Or, you know, when you leave a bicycle stationary and locked up for eight months at a time—that’s another issue.”
Lt. Cobb also adds that students who use rope-like locks to secure their bikes are at risk.
“It looks like it would deter, but they come along with a chain cutter and they just cut it, so really what they need is the U-bolt,” Lt. Cobb said.
U-bolt locks have been the most efficient at protecting bikes from thieves because they cannot be cut with a regular pair of bolt cutters.
Bike thefts are committed by both students and local residents of Valdosta, but most of it is done by off-campus traffic.
“Maybe a solution would be to put the bike racks in more visible spots because they’re kind of off to the side,” Whittle said.
“If the opportunity is there, it really doesn’t matter which [brand] it is,” Maestas said. “We’ve seen some $1,500-plus bicycles stolen and we’ve seen some that I wouldn’t have taken five bucks for.”