The Claremont Colleges witnessed the theft of 30 bicycles last month—the most bikes stolen in any month in the past four years. Campus Safety received at least seven more reports of stolen bikes in the first week of November.
According to Campus Safety records, the rate of reported bike theft has generally increased in recent years, despite a small dip in 2011. The number of bikes reported stolen was 93 in 2009, 115 in 2010 and 110 in 2011. The total so far for 2012, with more than a month and a half to go, is 114.
Three flyers depicting suspects of the bike thefts, two of whom were caught near bike racks and one of whom was caught in possession of a stolen bike, were posted around the 5Cs and included in e-mails that administrators of Pomona College’s Office of Campus Life sent to Pomona students.
“Most of the bike-theft suspects apprehended have been found to be in possession of wire/cable cutters or other tools that are capable of defeating a cable lock,” wrote Director of Campus Security Shahram Ariane in an e-mail to TSL. “It is for this reason that we urge all students to use U-Locks to properly secure their bikes.”
David Sharfi PO ’16 had locked his bike with a cable lock in front of the Mudd-Blaisdell residence hall, but a thief was able to cut the lock and steal the bike. When Sharfi contacted Campus Safety in an attempt to recover his bike, he found that there was no way to determine who had taken it.
“I filed a report and Campus Safety told me that there was no surveillance in that area,” Sharfi said.
“I was a little bit disappointed that, for all the school’s resources, there’s not a security camera by the front door of the dorm by the bike racks,” he added. “It’s a very small area with a high concentration of valuable objects. I was pretty surprised that there were no cameras anywhere.”
Elise Young SC ’15, a bike technician for Scripps College’s Green Bike Program, also had her bike stolen. She said that students must lock their bikes with U-locks and learn to use these locks correctly.
“There should be more attention to taking precautions,” Young said. “All of these bike thefts have been happening really late at night, so it’s not like we are going to catch them. We should be better about just taking care of our bikes.”
Young had locked only the front wheel of her bike to the rack, making it easy for the thief to take the rest of the bike.
“I usually really pay attention to locking my bike well, but that time was just a simple mistake,” she said. “One of the few times I did it, it was stolen, just like that.”
Ariane also wrote that students need to know the proper method of using the U-Lock.
“When using a U-Lock, always secure your bike’s frame–not the tire–to the bike rack structure,” he wrote. “This is especially true with the bikes that have a built-in quick axle release feature. This feature is well-known and very helpful to the bike thieves, as they commonly steal the bike by quickly detaching the tire from the rest of the frame.”
Students who witness any suspicious activities can report them to Campus Safety’s 24-hour Dispatch Center at (909) 607-2000.