University police bait bike thieves

In Campus News, News
Photo by David Muñoz/Daily Titan Staff Photographer
College students across the nation continue to be targeted for bike thefts, and those in Orange County are no exception. 

In August, five people were charged for allegedly stealing bicycles from students at the UC Irvine.

Cal State Fullerton has had its share of thefts and in some cases, the University Police have been able to catch the culprits in action.

In addition to the officers patrolling on bicycle, the University Police have used bait bikes in the past to help catch thieves, said Lt. John Brockie of University Police. He said the department will continue to use this tactic in the future.

Currently, the department is waiting to receive a new bait bike that will use a GPS system to track the suspects’ movements.

The use of GPS systems is a growing trend among university police departments.

Students that live on campus can also benefit from a pilot program designed to help them register their bicycles with the University Police. In order to register their bicycles, students are required to give the University Police their bicycle serial number and take a picture with their bike in order to link their identity with their property. The program is a collaborative effort between the University Police and housing, Brockie said.

For now, the program only serves students living on campus, but the University Police hopes to expand it throughout the campus in the future.

“Funding is tight,” Brockie said, adding that housing helped them fund the pilot project.

The University Police also monitors bike lockers and other critical areas in housing to help prevent bike theft.

A good chunk of the responsibility falls on the owner, Brockie said. Owners ultimately have the responsibility of securing their bicycles.

Avid cyclists have had their share of experiences and have adapted their security methods to ensure their bike’s safety.

“Never use a coil, use a U-lock,” said Zack H. Dihn, who helps organize a bicycle gathering known as Critical Mass in Fullerton.

Brian Feinzimer, vice president of the CSUF Cycling Club, agrees and uses a similar method, locking his rear tire with the U-lock and securing his front tire with a security cable.

Knowing how and where to lock a bicycle is essential in securing one’s investment, Dihn said.

“It’s important to lock your bike in an area with a lot of foot traffic,” Dihn said.

He added that higher populated areas are likely to discourage thieves.

The National Bike Registry’s website states that bicycles that are locked near a large group of bikes are less likely to be stolen, especially when there are less secure bikes available.

NBR, which has been working with law enforcement agencies since 1984, is a paid service that helps identify found or stolen bicycles.

The best thing students can do is to walk into the station to report their stolen bike, Brockie said. However, if a student finds his or her cut chains and locks still at the scene, it is better to remain in place without touching the cable and call the station.

“We’ll come out to you,” he said.

While the majority of the thefts that occur on campus involve the entire bike, there are instances in which only selected parts are stolen, Brockie said.

Bicycle seats and tires are just two of the items that can be stolen to be sold in pieces, Dihn said.

The growing trend in cycling and popular bicycle styles has added to the amount of thefts.

“Fixed gear bicycles are in demand,” said Nicole Yoshimoto, 19, trip leader for CSUF Cycling.

Most of the targeted bicycles appear to be “fixies,” according to Yoshimoto.

Dihn said fixed gear bikes are primary targets because they are popular, available and can be sold back relatively quickly.

Dihn, an avid rider, recalled an incident in which he did not bother to lock his bicycle, looked back and was able to catch a man running away with his bike.

“He just dropped it and kept running,” he said.
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Feinzimer had a similar experience, but was not as lucky.

He had rebuilt his father’s bicycle and it was stolen while he was working in Los Angeles.

“They can have sentimental value,” said Feinzimer, who added that the CSUF Cycling Club plans to include the topic of securing a bicycle and a short demo on how to lock it down during its next meeting.

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  • Zack Dinh

    Great article. Fyi, the chain and padlock show in the picture is an incorrect method to locking a bicycle. Chains from hardware stores are not hardened to the same standards as ones designed specifically for locking bikes. They are surprisingly easy to break.

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